Here at the museum, we often run into this problem – a photo that isn’t labeled or is mislabeled. Between all of us, and sometimes the help of members, we are able to identify people fairly easily. But there are those pictures we can’t identify – and we may never be able to.
The most important factor in labeling a picture is just putting a name down. First and last names if you know them. Any other information will be well appreciated. I determined everyone in a personal family album because I knew the original owner of the album and could therefore figure out who she meant by “Aunt and Uncle” and “Cousin.” And don’t forget to label yourself! These photos will not always be in your possession.
Try and take the time now to fill in the other “W”s: What is going on in the picture? When was it taken? Where is the place in the picture? I can assure you this information will be well appreciated in the future.
Digital photos pose a bit more of a conundrum – it’s not as easy as taking a Sharpie to the back of the picture. Thankfully, there are easy options:
1. Windows actually has a built in system for labeling your photos. Your digital camera should automatically embed the date taken into the picture but once you have uploaded your photos onto your computer you can then begin to add details. In Windows 7 it’s as easy as single-clicking on the picture – this will bring up a bar in the bottom of your window where you can then begin to add details such as “Date taken”, “Title”, “Tags”, and even “Rating”. The information you enter then becomes embedded into your picture file.
In previous versions of Windows it’s as easy as right-clicking on the picture and selecting “Properties.” In there you’ll find fields to enter in information.
2. Windows also provides Windows Media Center as a program to organize and detail your photos. There are also programs available for download on the internet. Here is a site that provides some options with a summary of each: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/imagemanagementwin/tp/thumbbrowse.htm
I am not an Apple user but I imagine there are similar options available.
Honestly, I feel a little shaky on the stability of digital photos. I’m not a doomsday type of person at all, but I wonder what would happen if all the technology we currently use just went away. If you’re as anxious as I am about this, your best option (although most time consuming) would be to have all the pictures you couldn’t bear to lose professionally printed. Then you could easily label the back of those and keep them safe.