One Way to Keep Stories and Photos Together

Photos without stories are meaningless. It’s important to record the “hows” and “whys” a photographer snapped a picture in the first place. How can we keep stories and photos together for future generations?

Label Photos

Write on the back of photos

Write the information on the back of your printed pictures. If a picture is in an album or on a scrapbook page and the print can be easily removed, write on the back of each image. That way, if the photo was ever removed from the album or scrapbook page, the information stays with the picture.

If the photos are in albums and scrapbooks and can not be easily removed, then write the information on the photo album or scrapbook page.

What to do if you have digital pictures?

Since acquiring my first digital camera, I have asked myself that very question. In actuality, it has changed over time. Part One of this series will show you what I did initially. In future posts, I will share you what I do now. You can then decide what works best for you.

1. Organize the Photos into Folders

Regardless of whether my photos are scanned images or from my digital camera, I organize them on my hard drive chronologically and then by topic (sometimes).

Here’s the quick step view:

  1. Store photos by year
  2. Store photos by month
  3. Add topic sub-folder when necessary

Pretty straight forward. I’m all about simplicity whenever possible. Let’s see a case study.

Organize Digital Photos by Folders
Organizing images in Windows Explorer

Let’s say I’m sorting photos from the year 2013. In Windows Explorer, I create a new file folder under My Photos and name it 2013.

Then I create 12 folders and name them with the twelve months of the year. I like the folders sorted according to the month order, rather than alphabetically. So the folders are named with a two digit number before the month name: 01 Jan, 02 Feb, 03 Mar, and so forth.

Organize Month into topics
Organize month folder into topics

Then I create additional folders under the appropriate month, when necessary. Some months do not have enough activities to separate the photos. However, some months, especially in December, have a lot of activities that are photo worthy.

Within 12 Dec, I could create folders like Caroling Party, Christmas day, Nativity Display, Snow, and so on. If I have only a few photos from December that don’t necessarily fit into a larger category, I leave those photos in the 12 December folder. If there are 7 or more photos for a topic, I make a subfolder simply to separate these groups away from the others.

2. Record the Story

It’s frustrating when I cannot remember everything from an event such as a church Christmas Party.

Topics with Text
Sub Folder By Topic with Text File

Imagine if the story happened ten years ago. A lot has happened in my life in ten years. Without recording the story behind the photos, and the names of people in the photos, I will have forgotten the names and events easily.

So, I would open Microsoft Notepad and write the story behind the photos. I would be sure to name the people in the photos (and mention the photo number when necessary). Then I would save the *.txt file in the correct month or month/topic subfolder.

You would find these small .txt files in 2013 – 12 Dec that tell about all the miscellaneous photos in that folder. The .txt file would be named 201312ChurchParty.txt.  In the month/topic subfolder of 2013 – 12 Dec – Office Party, you would find .txt files that were named 201312OfficeParty.txt.

With the story files saved in the folders where the images are contained, I have a place for the digitized memories to be preserved together. Whenever I wanted to use these items in a personal history project, the stories and photos are right there. If I can’t remember something while watching a slide show that draws from the photo folder, I can stop the slide show, open the folder, and review the story file.

Is this solution full proof?

No! It’s not. But it is a method to keep the photos and stories together. There are other methods, one of which can be READ HERE.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

2 thoughts on “One Way to Keep Stories and Photos Together

  1. Amanda, I'm so glad you like the idea. I'm sure there are other ways people have kept the stories together. This one worked for me for the longest time. I hope it works for you.

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