How do I tag you? Let me count the ways! There are so many ways to go about tagging your photos. The main reason to tag is so you will be able to find that special photo again. I always recommend software for organizing so you keep all your photos in one place and can do the categorizing and tagging without multiple copies of the same image clogging up your hard drive. Remember it’s easier to do the tagging when you bring the images onto your computer and into the organizing software. If you don’t have time right then, make sure that the import date is something you can sort or view by. Then you should make an appointment with yourself to come back and tag those photos!
Let’s look at what good photo organizing software should have to tag or sort by.
1: File name of the image. Your camera will give each image a name based on how the camera names and numbers. You can change this to reflect an event, place, person, or thing. You can search on this field which makes it handy. I will often name photos from the same place with the city and place or city and state. If I’m shooting flowers in my garden, I’ll name them simply Flowers, the type of flower, or the garden that I’m photographing.
2: Date the photo was taken. This is great for a chronological view as long as the date/time stamp in your camera is correct. It’s a good idea to check it before a big event. For printed photos that you scan, you should be able to change the date from the scan date to the date the photo was actually taken. Many programs let you do parts of dates like ‘Fall 1987’. Don’t spend too much time here.
3: A rating system. This lets you mark the best photos. I tend to only use this to mark photos that I want in an album or that have a story that I want to tell. I don’t give much time to this other than to star the best photos for future use.
4: Text to tell the story! This is quite variable between programs. It’s one of the reasons I like Memory Manager (affiliate link). It has 5,000 characters to tell your story with and is searchable. This is where I fill in the details of Who, What, When, Where, and How. When the picture has a story to tell, go ahead and record it here. That way the story stays with the picture until I have time to share it in some way. I can record names and places that don’t occur frequently enough in my collection of photos to warrant their own tags.
5: Facial Recognition is found in many programs now. This helps you tag the people in your photos. Facial recognition usually needs to be trained who is who, but will quickly catch on even as a person ages. Think about how you name a person. If you have several generations, you will want to have each person’s full name, not just Grandma or Aunt Sue. This will also become important as you pass this information on to future generations.
6: Finally we come to tags themselves. Tags allow you to mark an image in multiple ways without having multiple copies of that image on your computer. There are usually two levels – Categories and Tags. Think of categories as the drawers in a file cabinet and tags as the folders in the drawers. You might have categories for Activities, Church, Crafts, Family, Holidays or Pets. Each of those categories will have several tags within them. For instance Holidays might have tags for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Patriots Day. You don’t need the year since you can cross reference using the Date the photo was taken.
What tags you use has everything to do with what you take photos of! What are the themes of your photos? What are the events, people, places, things that you photograph? When do you tend to take photos – birthdays, holidays, or special occasions? What are the themes that you find in your photos? These are the categories and tags that you will want to use. You want to be able to find that photo of Johnny with Grandpa at the cottage even if you don’t remember the date. What will help you find that image ten weeks or ten years from now? Having tags for Johnny and Grandpa (remember to use the given name for each person so future generations will know who you are talking about) you can search for both tags and then refine the search with the third. When you have 40,000 images or more, finding that one photo can be like searching for a needle in a haystack if you haven’t tagged your photos. The good news is that when you take the time to do this, you will be able to locate the photo quickly and easily. Start with the photos you are taking now and work your way back in time. Won’t that be nice next time Johnny needs a photo for a school project or you have a big birthday celebration or anniversary or funeral that you need photos for!
What Categories and Tags do you use? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.