Preserving and Managing Photos
How many photos do you have on your digital phone? On your computer? On the cloud? I’m guessing it’s a lot.
Many people have an alarming number of photos on their devices (one of my clients had over 200,000!), and finding the ones you need can be a daunting task.
Bite the bullet and organize your photos on your computer
In this digital age it is easy to take thousands of images a year with our phones. They become synced to our computers (e.g. via iCloud or memory sticks) and can pile up there in a plethora of places. For the most part, going through the photos one by one and filing them in folders is the only way to make sense of them. It’s good to create clearly labeled folders and sub-folders, and then organize all of your photos in a way that makes sense to you, by date, event, topic, or name. This may be a time consuming step, but it’s worth it in the long run and can even be fun. Two years ago, I spent many evenings on a big project for the wedding of my oldest daughter, Silvia. This involved looking through tons of digital pictures, and in the end I created a 45 minute slideshow with music featuring 150 photos from her birth to the wedding. While sorting and choosing the photos, my wife and I enjoyed reliving fun and memorable moments in our lives together.
While working on this project, I noticed that over the years I had made backups of pictures which created thousands of doubles. One way to free up space on your hard drive would be to eliminate these doubles. Doing this manually would be incredibly time consuming, so I used a program called “DoubleKiller Pro.” But as always, before you start, make sure you backup your computer. Then be careful to clearly define in the program what constitutes a double, which will help the program discern what files to flag. Files that have the same name? Or the same size? Or even the same date and time? Whatever choice and whichever tool you decide to use, be careful that you don’t accidentally delete photos that aren’t really part of a duplicate pair.
Your phone’s organizational capabilities
Your mobile phone has some apps and built in functionality to help you organize your photos. My iPhone offers options to view my photos by date and location. How is this possible? When you take a digital photo, it stores metadata, which is information describing each photo file. This usually includes the time the picture was taken and the location (linked to the GPS in your phone). But there is much more “tagged” in a photo file. I was really surprised when my phone offered to show my “animal” pictures. And it worked pretty well. It was fun looking at all of the photos with our blue parakeet. But it also found a photo that my youngest daughter texted to me, showing a parrot on her shoulder. The app doesn’t know the names of my daughters, but when I’m searching under “people,” it shows a face shot of each of them. Then, when I click on one of them, it displays photos in which this particular person is seen. Amazing. This information is not necessarily stored/tagged in the photo file. To recognize animals, people and objects in your photos an advanced computer vision software is in play. Photo organizers such as Adobe Lightroom and ACDSee for computers offer similar techniques. If I had had one of them on my computer last year, I would have found pictures of my daughter Silvia in no time.
Working with non-digital photos
But how can you preserve memory-rich photos from old albums and boxes? A quick way to get those pictures digitized would be to take a photo with your phone. But to get better quality, you will need a scanner. A flatbed scanner is often included in all-in-one printers. But an overhead scanner has many benefits; It allows you to scan anything that you put in front of the scanning sensor without damaging the documents by squeezing them under a lid. Scanning is a great way to integrate those old family photos and documents into your genealogy program. And, again, don’t forget to organize your scans in well-labeled files and back up them up.