Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Get Organized :: Store Information Directly In Your Photographs

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-19393

Here is a photograph I found in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog of the Library of Congress. I'm using this photograph in a project I'm writing on Early Photographers in Washington Territory and Washington State. The photograph will be used to illustrate why our ancestors may have looked uncomfortable in those old family photographs.

I attached all the information I have regarding this photograph directly to the image. This is accomplished by using the "File information" (also called metadata) capability found in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. I stored the bibliographic entry and information about the description, keywords, sources, credits, and URLs for the photograph.

Using this function streamlines my workflow, organizes my files, and makes searches for a specific photograph easier. It works equally well for photographs archived on my computer, external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and photos taken by a digital camera.

"File info" is found under File in the photoshop main menu.

File information or metadata is information about the photograph, such as its author, resolution, color space, copyright, and keywords. All you ever wanted to know about your photos and metadata can be found in the blog post Sharpen Your Pencil, found at Family Matters.

Here is how I create a custom fill of the file information for my photographs. I am using the above photograph as my example.

Document Title: [A photographer appears to be photographing himself in a photographic studio]

This is the title of the photograph given to it by the online catalog.

Author: A.H. Wheeler

This is the photographer’s name, if known, or listed as unknown if not known.

Author Title: Photographer

This is just the designation – photographer.


Wheeler, A.H., photographer. “[A photographer appears to be photographing himself in a photographic studio]
Photograph. Berlin, Wis.: A.H. Wheeler, c1893. From Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division. http://memory.loc.gov/master/pnp/cph/3a20000/3a20000/3a20600/3a20638u.tif (accessed July 13, 2007).

This is the bibliographic entry for this photograph. I only have to write the entry once. When creating a bibliography for my project all I have to do is copy and paste the entry.

Description Writer: Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-19393

This is the credit line requested by the online catalog.

Keywords: Washington State and Territory Photographer; LOC; Photographer; Studio

These are the keywords for a search of my computer files. I listed the name of the project in which I will be using the photograph, the online catalog, and any pertinent words – here photographer and studio.

Copyright Status: Public Domain

File info allows you to list the photograph’s copyright status and the copyright notice if there is one.

Copyright Info URL:


This is where I place the permanent URL for this photograph. If for some reason I need to return to the original I only have to select Go To URL…

Now all the pertinent information concerning the photograph has been attached directly to the image.

While this may seem like a lot of work (it's mostly drag and drop or copy and paste), it becomes second nature when done everytime you create or download an image. It also saves a great deal of time by only writing a bibliographic entry once and making searches simple.

Try it! You might like it.

Tip: If you want to find the bibliographic information for this photograph in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, enter the number (LC-USZ62-19393) from the description into the search bar and select “Search in number fields.” This will take you to the database section for bibliographic information.

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Blogger Janice said...


Will you be posting the article you are writing (about old family photographs) here also? I used to think that all of my own ancestors were angry or unhappy people until I learned why they never "smiled for the birdie" hehe.


July 25, 2007 at 4:37 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


I always thought my ancestors were humorless.

Right now the research is being considered for two things. A book - I really don't know if I'm disciplined enough for that. And an article or series of articles for HistoryLink.org here in Washington.

I'm in a class this fall at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle called "Nearby History". This is where the writing is done. I have three projects I'm looking to do, having touble making up my mind.


P.S. Isn't the cow avitar something new?

July 25, 2007 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Janice said...

Nope, the cow avitar [sic] is not new. I've had it as long as I've been blogging. I suppose I could change it, but I like the visual connection to Cow Hampshire....

July 26, 2007 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


This is the first time your cow showed up, and yes I spelled it wrong. Sigh! The mind slips and falls.


July 26, 2007 at 1:29 PM  

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