Are you one of the many people who has hundreds or even thousands of photographs, some in albums, some in boxes, and in more recent years, huge numbers of digital photographs on the computer? The thought of organising all your precious family photographs can seem quite overwhelming although when it’s done there are huge advantages that make the job very worthwhile.
How good would it be to be able to find the photos you want, when you want them, and end the seemingly endless frustrating searches that we’ve all done in the past. More importantly, when your photographs are organised, future generations will have all the benefits of your efforts. They will know who is who, dates, places and any other detail you may be able to add. Your photograph archive becomes a valuable heirloom.
It’s Easier Than You Think
At first it may seem like a task that is just too enormous to tackle. The good news is that when it’s broken down into simple steps, it’s much easier than you think, is actually great fun and is very rewarding.
- Collect together all loose photographs and albums into one place
- Sort the photographs into as near chronological order as you can. During this process put aside any duplicates, sub-standard photographs and ones that you don’t like or are irrelevant.
- Scan all the remaining photographs to your computer. Use a scan resolution of 300 – 600 dpi so that any future prints made from the scan will be good quality. If you can’t do this yourself I can do this for you.
- Create a sub-folder for each year in the My Pictures folder of your computer and put the scanned images into the appropriate year’s folder. Where the year is not known just use your best estimate. To further refine this you can add a sub-folder in each Year folder using the date and subject. For example name the final folder 2013-10-15 Family Party. By using the date format with the year first this makes sorting the folders more logical.
- Picasa is a free program by Google that makes it very easy and straightforward to keep track of all your photographs. It will automatically find all the photographs on your computer and arrange them all in chronological order keeping the names of each folder. This will include all the digital photographs you already have on your computer.
- Apart from organising your photos you can also enhance them, crop them, and add different effects, although I would suggest you leave any editing until you have the photos organised. You can download Picasa free from http://picasa.google.co.uk/
- You can also title each photograph with further information about the people, places and any other information required.
- Tagging your photographs in Picasa is also a useful way to find what you want quickly. A tag is used for a type of photograph, for example ‘Home’. How this could work is that any photograph from any year that features your home could be tagged with the word ‘Home’. Other tags might be ‘Buildings’, ‘Holidays’ or anything else you choose.
- Picasa has great search capabilities. If you type in its search field any word relating to the name of a folder, sub-folder, title or tag it will instantly display all those photographs on your screen. Picasa also has a fantastic face recognition feature which work extraordinarily well. It recognises faces even in large group photos, makes a thumbnail image of just the face. You name each different face and it finds all the photographs with that persons face, at any age, and creates a thumbnail of the face against that person’s folder (automatically created). If it doesn’t get it right (rarely) you have the option to correct it. This is a very useful feature in family history projects.
Backing up Your Photographs For Safety
So now you have all your photographs in one place, you have named folders and photographs and they are easy to find. It’s important that you back them up. This can be done simply by copying the files onto a separate USB external hard drive, CD or memory stick or better still in the cloud on line. Livedrive (see www.livedrive.com) is an easy inexpensive cloud-based backup service – a small price to pay for security of all your precious photographs and any other information you need backed up.