I have been taking pictures for years. I got my first camera while still in grade school, a used box camera, that took large format black and white. Since that time I have taken thousands of pictures; owned more than my fair share of cameras and equipment. One of the things I have learned is as part of the yearbook staff is that we need to document our pictures. Who, what, where and when. What seems like an event you will never forget, overtime the details become less clear. I see thousands of unmarked pictures every year at antique stores and estate sales. Without names no one wants them, they no longer have meaning though they are part of history.
When we go on vacation we take lots of pictures, and now with the digital camera we take even more. There is no more limiting our vacation pictures to rolls of 12, 24 or 36. No more thinking about what film developing costs and being stingy with our memories. Today we get home and upload our hundreds of new pictures to our computers and the debate is on. Where was that? Is that the Lion’s Peak, take near Superior or Lamb’s Point by Morris, we saw both of those that day?
Almost every picture software has the ability to see properties. Properties will tell you the date and time of your picture. It is not necessary to set your camera to put that date on every picture. It is there behind the scenes, sort of like the old dates that appeared on the white when you developed your pictures. Properties also allow you to add captions and tag your pictures. Captions are notes that tell the story. Captions are more conversational. Tags are searchable notes. I tag everyone in a picture. I also tag the location (some photo programs call this a geotag-geographic tag). Tagging is great when you later want to find all the pictures of Glacier Park, you search for that tag. The same can be done for a person, pet, or any other tag you enter. My only caution is don’t over tag to the point you can’t remember. I tag all my sunsets, vistas, as scenic; not as each type of scenic. Tag the way your brain works, that is the best advice for tags.
In the days when we were stingy, this would sound like insane advice, take pictures of signs! Because you can delete pictures you don’t want and they did not cost you a red cent, you can take place reminder pictures. Those reminder pictures will make tagging your pictures so much easier. Take pictures of road signs with town names on. Take a picture of the sign when you enter a park. You don’t have to stop unload the family, it can be a blurry snapshot taken out the car window as you drive by. But when you start looking at pictures a home these signs will fill in your details so much faster, accurately and with more detail. Don’t be afraid to take a picture of your hotel sign each night. Yes the date on the properties of the picture will tell you when it was taken, but you will likely remember your vacation relative to a hotel or restaurant more easily than date. This habit is also great for those of us who keep a camera and find ourselves taking this vista or that an then not downloading our pictures right away. A week from now it is sometimes hard to remember where was I when I took that picture. When you are done tagging all your pictures you can delete all those unwanted hotel, restaurants and road signs.
Lastly print a few pictures, not on your digital printer, but sent them out to a local pharmacy or online photo printer. When they arrive remember to write on the back who, what, when and where. In this digital age we tend not to print pictures. I fear that as a result pictures of a whole generation may be lost. You don’t see folks buying up old negatives, or them surviving to make it to antique stores, museums or estate sales. Your pictures on your portable drive, or computer will not likely survive if they don’t get printed. As a person who does genealogy and family history. I can tell you everyone wants to see pictures. Don’t let your family be a generation who has no pictures who survives.