All These Scanned Photos...What Now?

Posted by Troy Lippert on

E-Z Photo Scan clients are always coming up with terrific questions.

Here is one from a Kodak Picture Saver Scanner PS50 user...

"Now that I have tens of thousand of scanned photos going back to the late 1800s in some cases, I am wondering how I annotate them so future generations can know what and who they are looking at.  Any photo management software I might choose now will probably be obsolete in a few years, let alone a generation or two.  Will future image viewing programs or image formats display and keep current embedded metadata? I can't think of a good solution that is as practical as the handwritten annotations we used to do in photo albums. Do you all have any advice?"



Dear Scot,
My initial response is that you are very perceptive of how changes in technology will mean one has to think not only about 'the now', but also 'the future'.

To start to answer your questions, it would be my suggestion you consider visiting They have made a major start in pulling together a comprehensive resources guide to photo metadata. They do a great job of satisfying the needs of both beginners and experts who work with digital images by serving as a clearinghouse of information about this subject.

After investigating, you may gravitate towards the direction of preserving the information you speak about as metadata attached to the actual image with something like ExifTool. This is a platform-independent Perl library plus a command-line application for reading, writing and editing meta information in image, audio and video files. ExifTool supports many different types of metadata including EXIF, IPTC, XMP, and many others. ExifTool is also available as a stand-alone Windows executable and a Macintosh OS X package.
Another alternative would be Scott's JPEG Editor that allows you to add comments via a comment box. Other options for managing and editing metadata would be GIMP, GimpPhoto, LightRoom by Adobe, or Picasa. Each of these will allow you to edit and manage the information stored with the photo. No matter the method, you will want to be sure that whatever tool you use, that is can be accommodated within all current OS platforms.
One thing to consider is the time it will take to associate individual comments with your photos. This process of adding comments as EXIF or some other form of metadata is not for the faint of heart! It can be a rather time intensive process. Depending upon your specific goals, one thing to look into is batch/bulk metadata editors that permit you to make a single metadata edit and apply it to multiple images, assuming this type of action lends itself to your collection. There are apps like MetadataTouch, Exif Pilot, and others that can handle things in bulk.
Finally, there is the concept of tagging and foldering that allow you to place your photos into an application, or cloud storage solution. This technique basically will 'associate' your photos by event, person, year, or whatever other categorization one can think of. One note of caution...this schema is typically a component of the actual application and may not transfer with the photos if removed from the specific app. If you consider one of these, there are many to choose from. One I would definitely suggest you look into is This is the first Guaranteed Permanent Shareable Storage Service.
I hope this information has helped in some small way to assist in the next steps in the preservation process of your treasured collection.
Please let us know if you have any questions and thank you for the opportunity to be of service.
Happy Scanning!
The E-Z Photo Scan Team


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