Metadata is your friend

If you want to find your photos and videos quickly, you first need to get organized. And what’s the key to organizing all of those photos and videos? Metadata!

Metadata is simply data about data and makes your files searchable. No more sifting through nested folders and hard drives when you’re in a hurry to find the right photos for a project. With the right metadata, you can find your images in a flash.

Embedding metadata in a photo is a bit like turning over a snapshot to write a description on the back of the picture. The information travels with the photo, where ever it goes. Yes, it takes an extra step to view the metadata on a digital file, in the same way that you have to turn over a photo to read what’s recorded on the reverse

Your digital camera will embed information (EXIF device data) in each photo it takes. This information identifies what camera created the file, the exposure information, the date the photo was taken and more and is not normally editable. Word of advice - make sure your camera clock is correct when you take the photo.

The Description area plus the authors and copyright are editable. These are known as the IPTC Data which is a genealogist's friend when it comes to adding information about the people, places, and events shown in an image.

For the who’s who in the photo use tags/keywords – this will make it easy to quickly find all the photos of a specific person in the future.

To record the stories behind the photos (why a photo was captured in the first place, etc) use the comments/captions area. This is how your grandchildren will learn about you and your legacy. And just like your grandmother’s script, the metadata you add today will bring your family history to life for future generations.

When organizing large image collections it's usually most efficient to add tags/keywords, and captions/comments to the metadata using batch-editing functions in a photo management program such Adobe Lightroom or Xnview. If you’re working with a limited number of photos, however, it’s a quick and easy task to add metadata to a few images with the Properties or Information.

• To view or edit Metadata on a Mac, select an image and open the Information window with Get Info option (Command-I).
• To view or edit Metadata on a PC, right-click on the image and select Properties then go to the Details tab.

Before embarking on a large project adding metadata to images, test a few files and open in your browser to confirm that the metadata has transferred and can be viewed without special software.

If you need to know more or want a on-on-one lesson on Metadata talk to Snapshot's Certified Photo Organiser – Jill Boswell. More details about how Jill can help here.

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