I’m not a photographer, I don’t take pictures, and I very rarely pose for them but as the family historian I have a ton of old family photos that I scanned into the computer in the hopes of being able to attach them into my genealogy program.
Digitizing the old family photos is also the best way to preserve them, and make them viewable to more people. But it gets out of control rather quickly.
How best to identify who is in the picture, where it was taken, when it was taken? How to make sure that information stays with the picture no matter where it goes? Metatags to the rescue. Metatags are basically data about the data. And they are stored in the tiff or jpg file, not as a separate list. In the world of digital photography there are two (now three I guess) flavors of tags.
EXIF: these are mostly fixed data fields that your digital camera creates, things like camera model and f-stop and stuff like that. I’m not a photographer, so I don’t care about these fields at all
IPTC: these are the fields that can be filled in by the user, press agencies use them to fill in things like caption and description and photographer and copyright. These are the fields I use on scanned photos to identify and preserve all the bits of data I want to preserve
XMP: you just knew that Adobe would get into the act, right? They’re determined to do with photos what they did with documents (PDF) and create the de facto standard. XMP is a blend of EXIF and IPTC, and is the way Photoshop stores metatags. But it’s not far enough along in the process for me to be comfortable with it, so I just use IPTC.
OK, so now I know I want to use IPTC info, now what?
There are tons of photo management programs out there, after more research and “trying out” than I care to think of, I decided on Photools IMatch for my cataloging system. It can be ridiculously complicated, but it’s flexible enough that it allows me to do what I want to do. And that changes regularly.
So I’ve got hundreds of photos on my home computer, identified using IPTC fields, and IMatch is my interface for finding what I want to find, updating what I want to update, and creating galleries to eventually put on the web for everyone to see.