Photo storage software

I had an unexpected day off last week (thanks to the SkyCity convention centre fire here in Auckland) and ended up at my mother’s house. She and my sister were sorting out and scanning old family photos. They also recently had a hard drive failure and are trying to manage their digital photos.

I’ve used Amazon Photos for a few years now. What I liked most about them:
– I could re-download the photos at original size
– I could upload videos or RAW files as well as photos
– price was reasonable

It automatically sorted photos by date (and I only discovered on Wednesday that I could manually edit the date for scanned photos, etc.) but you could create albums of photos as well to sort them into smaller groups. You could not search photos, you just had to scroll down to the approximate date and look for it. One other drawback was that while you could share a link to a photo in Amazon Photos, you could not embed the photo in a blog or website from there.

My sister and Mum are using Photomyne (which is another subsidiary of Amazon) to scan the old family photos, and as the family historian, I was particularly interested in knowing who was in the photos, where they were taken and when. Photomyne allows you to store all that information. But it’s not metadata – so if you download the photo from Photomyne, that information doesn’t come with the photo, it’s specific to the website. Also, the app auto-crops and straightens the original photo, even correcting colour tints, making it super quick and easy to use. And you can scan multiple photos in a single shot, and the app will separate them and save them as separate photos! It also stores the original uncropped image in the background which you can use to redo the cropping if you think the automatic cropping wasn’t done right. It looks like it’s about $16 a month which is quite pricey, but I would imagine you’d only need it short-term because eventually you’d run out of photos to scan.  It’d be an expensive way to store the photos, but seems great for scanning them.

My sister has started using Adobe Bridge to manage her digital photos. Adobe Bridge also allows you to enter all sorts of additional data such as who is in the photo, who took the photo, where it was taken, and key words. We played around with it to see how much of that information became metadata that stayed with the photo file. As it turns out, the ‘description’, the ‘creator’ or ‘author’ of the photo (this info is duplicated under those two headings) and the key words all came through with the photo file. Which is awesome. That information becomes searchable. So you can note who took the photo, you can add a description (which might include where the photo was taken, the occasion or who is in the photo, e.g. ‘Elle’s 39th birthday at her parents’ house’) and you can put key words. For me, some of nature photo key words will be the specific birds in the photo, making it easier for me to search for a photo of an eagle, for example. I also like the idea of using people’s names in the key words space, so that I can search for a person and it will bring up all the photos of that person. You can bulk-edit and rename or add details to groups of photos at a time. The renaming function is pretty cool. So you can choose a whole bunch of photos and tell Adobe Bridge to rename with ‘Date_Location_File’ and it will rename to (for example) 20192310_Auckland_001 and 20192310_Auckland_002 and so on. You can tell the program which metadata to use to create the filename. That way, the filename itself becomes useful (much more so than IMG23437!) and you’ve also got the additional metadata fields to use. Loads of ways to record helpful information about each photo.

Amazon Photos doesn’t show you that kind of metadata while in the site though, and the site doesn’t allow you to search photos. So I started thinking where I could store my photos and make use of this new metadata.

After some research, OneDrive and DropBox seem the way to go. Because your computer treats these as additional hard drives or servers, not as websites, you can easily manage the photos in OneDrive and DropBox with Adobe Bridge, and yet because they ARE websites, you can still access your photos from anywhere and they’re backed up online so hard drive failures aren’t an issue. None of the other photo storage websites seemed to have this advantage. Of course, neither OneDrive nor DropBox allow you to embed a photo from there into a blog or website (at least, not so far as I’ve discovered) but you can still share a photo or a whole folder with a link.

The OneDrive app on my phone has a ‘scanning’ mode, which will do a brilliant job of scanning a document, auto-cropping it, and saving it as a pdf. However, if I tell it that the item is a photo (and therefore to save as a jpg), it won’t auto-crop like it does with a document. So the scanning function is useful for creating pdfs of documents, but not for scanning old photos as jpgs.

Therefore, after much consideration, I have decided to use:
– Photomyne to scan my memorabilia and printed photos as jpgs
– Adobe Bridge to add metadata details
– OneDrive to store the photos

I should note, I already pay for the Adobe suite, so I get Adobe Bridge included with that at no extra cost. Also, my husband already uses OneDrive for his business, so I can create a personal OneDrive (up to 1TB) at no extra cost. Therefore, cost did not factor hugely into my considerations, but I know it will for others.

What do you use, and why?

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