Tuesday, September 4, 2012

21COFH - Metadata

Metadata (data about data) is important if we are digitizing our photographs, family papers, and documents. I'm learning every week about this topic. Here's the framework I'm using right now.


I'm in the process of switching over to Adobe Lightroom but right now I use Adobe Photoshop Elements. Whether it's a picture or an old family photo, and regardless of the file format (almost always either jpg or tiff), I use the following fields to add important information about the digital files I have.
  • First, I use templates to automatically fill in my name as the Author, the Copyright Notice and contact information as appropriate.
  • Second, I use the Description field in a number of ways:
    • Write a caption.
    • Reproduce what was already written on the back of a photograph.
    • Create a citation.
  •   Assigning Keywords (or tags) helps to find a photograph or group of pictures later on.
Family Papers & Documents Obtained Through Research
As documents are digitized, I add metadata as described above, paying particular attention to creating a citation.

If you are saving these types of documents as pdf files you can add the same types of metadata as well. I'm using Adobe Acrobat Pro X. I'm not sure which versions do or do not allow for this.

I also like to annote the front of the document with a citation, if it can be done in an "out of the way" place on the document.

Adobe Lightroom
I've been playing with Lightroom on and off this summer in order to learn the program and decide what the workflow should be. An advantage of this program is the ability to handle files in batches, eliminating the sometimes painful process of doing the same thing over and over with many files. Also, the ability to add keywords or tags makes it easier to locate files later.

Denise Levenick at The Family Curator has a great post today called, "Using Adobe Lightroom to Manage Genealogy Images." I hope she writes more in the near future!

© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Thanks Michelle for these great ideas. I am starting to use metadata on some of my family history documents (haven't started tagging my photographs yet) but so far have only added tags with Windows 7. I have Adobe Photoshop Elements and Picasa 3 but Denise's article has sparked my interest in Adobe Lightroom. I will have to try the trial download.

    1. Good luck with the trial Allin. Don't forget the online courses and tutorials.

  2. It's great to hear how you do this, Michelle, since I find it rather complicated and time-consuming. I'll be reading Denise's article too, and hope to hear more on the subject from both of you!

    1. It can be time consuming. I'm certain Lightroom will streamline the process significantly. After reading Denise's article, I'm going to take some of those online classes, jump in and "git 'er done".

  3. Michelle, very good advice! Realizing that future generations may not use the same software I do, I'm also going to prepare a CD of family images and an accompanying printed guide to who's who and so on, hoping family members will import to their fave photo mgmt programs and save both hard copy and digitized images.

    1. Good advice Marian. I'm a believer of keeping certain important things on paper too.

  4. Welcome to the magic of Lightroom, Michelle. I'm a real fan and hope you are enjoying this great program. I look forward to comparing notes with you.

    1. I would love to compare notes with you sometime. By then I should be more comfortable with it. I'm going slow and taking online classes per your recommendation.