As I’m going through my photos I’m filling in missing addresses and GPS co-ordinates. I’ve worked on this before but I actually missed a few out of 12,000. Because addresses repeat across the years, as I go through my folders I have to scroll through a longer and longer unsorted list of addresses and co-ordinates to find what I need.
So I decided to put everything into a spreadsheet that’s easily sorted by column. I can’t show you everything because then I’d be giving away secret information.
I don’t have one of those gizmos that record location every 5 seconds, so these are all co-ordinates that I’ve searched for myself using Google Maps and pinpointed on rooftops and so on.
The way I see this, if your descendants don’t know where you’re talking about they might not know what you’re talking about.
Back between 1920 and 1950, there was a path that ran between my grandmother’s house and my great-grandaunt’s house from back to back. There still is except they don’t live there anymore because they’ve been dead for a long time. I’ve heard about that path all my life. My mother has a thing about it. I’ve never asked her why, (I really should) but it was back in the days when she and my Dad were courting and I suspect “things” happened along that path. Not that she’d ever admit it.
It was years before I was able to go to Google Maps and see it in aerial view. It was years before I ever saw photographs taken there. So, as you might imagine, it’s really important that I have the exact co-ordinates for both houses. Because if the co-ordinates were off by 3 houses and people in the future were looking down on the wrong path I don’t think I could stand it.
To make a list to use in conjunction with IPTC and GPS software, these are generally the columns that you’ll need.
If a school, for instance, has a street address I will put that under ‘Location’ and then I’ll put the school name under ‘Keyword’. I’m able to refer back to the spreadsheet as I work and be consistent in how I embed the information in my photos.
It’s really handy to have the co-ordinates in one place. If I’m working on Ohio photos I can sort the ‘State’ field so I’m only looking at Ohio addresses. Then my weary eyes don’t have to scan through everything else.
I also include any addresses I still have to look up co-ordinates for. This changes over time. Six months ago there was an address that showed only farmers’ fields as seen from an airplane 1,000 feet up. Last week, the same address-search showed roads.
Obviously, many of the old photographs will not have co-ordinates but even putting a city or a state in the IPTC address fields is better than nothing. Because your photos are so familiar to you, it seems everything should be obvious to others but it really isn’t.
If I’m consistent with the addresses it makes it possible to search them across thousands of photographs. Anytime I want I can go directly to ‘the path’. It just looks like two backyards run together. It really does. Grass, trees, bushes. I don’t get it.
Until I see a photo of my father holding my older sister on her Christening Day and I can pinpoint the exact spot in my grandmother’s yard on a map and then I totally get it.
If you need free IPTC/GPS software, get GeoSetter. It’s a million times better & safer for your photos than Picasa. In fact, GeoSetter can also keep a Favorites List of addresses and co-ordinates and automatically fill the fields for you, so you don’t even need a GPS spreadsheet.