Photo Management


Careful management of your photos helps preserve memories, and there are a few key things to keep in mind for the best result. The biggest point here is that ensuring dates and category tags are added to the file metadata of your photos, they will be much easier to sort and use later, and the information will be preserved.


Bare with me here, because the metadata is boring. However, it's certainly the most important part of this. When tags and date fixes are written to the metadata, the photo files can be imported into many types of photo management programs with no compatability issues. So, what is metadata? Well, you can read all day about metadata and files, but in simple terms, a file is just a glob of zeros and ones, and metadata is information inside that blob that tells you more about the file. For photos, this metadata can be time the photo was taken, the camera model & settings, gps location, and much more. An example of information not kept in the metadata would be a file creation (or modification) date, which is data outside the blob. The file creation or modification date is managed by a computer's file system, and isn't necessarily stored in the photo file itself. Dates are important to photos, and if the dates aren't saved in the file's metadata, they may change any time the file is modified, copied or moved. This becomes problematic when working with photos that have had the metadata stripped. There a number of apps that strip a photo's metadata, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. They do this for privacy reasons, so that the person recieving the photos can't divulge potentially harmful information. The issue arrises when this metadata is stripped, every time the file is updated (i.e. you add tags to the photos to make them searchable), the date gets updated to when the file was modified, which may be the only date you have for the photo. To remedy this, you need to use a program that allows you to check if the metadata exists before further altering the file. Exif data is a metadata standard that is found in most photos, and I typcially ensure the existence of a 'datetimeoriginal' field, which should be when the photo was taken. This is what I spend most of my energy verifying or correcting from potentially corrupted photos. The date being off may not seem like a big deal, but if you're displaying photos over a large period of time, they will likely be shown all out of order.

Digikam, Piwigo and photo management software

What works for me is using Digikam, a free and open source program, to sort and add tags to photos. You need to ensure digikam edits the files metadata:

This ensures that any tags, captions, or date/time fixes are written to the file, vice just being stored in the program's database. The way Digikam and a majority of photomanagment software work is by taking a collection of photos and saving the information into a database. When I say database, understand it's database that runs on locally on your computer, not hosted on some server far away. The photos can then be searched and organized by date, tags or whatever. Now, Icloud and Google Photos work in similair ways except, well your photos and the database exist on a server in a galaxy far far away... An element to managing your own photos is being able to own your files and photos and have control over how they're used.

My Process

In broad terms, these are the steps to process photos:

Thanks for reading, and I hope this was helpful. If you have questions relating to these topics or need help with specefics, I'd be more than happy to assist. My contact info is in the 'About' page.