PhotographyTips.com - the #1 guide to better conventional and digital photography Become a Member iPhone Posing GuideGuide to Posing the Female Model BookGuide to Posing the Model CD
Search
Login

Member Login

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Flickr
Connect with us on LinkedIn

SPONSORS

Sell Photos Online

FEATURED SITES


Labeling pictures in the family album


Why not write on the print itself?


It's best to label prints as soon as you get them.
It's best to label prints as soon as you get them.

An unorthodox but very practical manner of identifying prints in a family album is to actually write information right on the front of the print. You will thank yourself whenever you or your friends or family view your albums, and will probably hear more than once, “How clever to identify your pictures like this. It is so easy to go through them. I would never have thought of writing on the picture itself.”

Here is what you will need:

(1) A Pilot Fineliner marker pen, available from most stationery suppliers in black, blue, brown, green, orange, purple and red ink. We chose this pen because it is inexpensive, writes on glossy and matte print surfaces, produces fine lines without smudging, its ink dries fairly quickly and doesn't fade over time, the point is tough and lasts, and the pen can usually be found quite easily. Black ink seems to be best.

The Pilot Fineliner is not the only pen with the right properties for writing on the surface of prints. A number of other fine tip markers for prints (and even film) are available from quality stationery outlets and some photo album manufacturers. (In fact, the manufacturer of Pilot pens recommends a xylene-free permanent marker in ultra fine point [SCUF] for writing on CDs and the fronts or backs of photos, and says it is better than a Fineliner since it uses an alcohol type ink, which is quick-drying and water resistant. The marker is available in black, blue, green and red.)

(2) Print neatly in small capital (uppercase) letters on a light area of the print.

(3) Allow a few minutes for the ink to dry before placing the print in your album.

(4) Keep the information short – first and last names, place and date should be more than enough. The picture should tell the rest of the story. Don’t just print “JOE, COTTAGE, 7/3/01” because that does not give full information. Years from now, you don’t want to look at the picture and wonder what Joe’s last name was or where the cottage was. Instead, print “JOE COLLINS, SWANTON, VT., JULY 3 01.” Keep in mind that you may know, and never forget, who someone is, but others who go through your albums (like your kids, for example) may wonder if "Joe" had a last name, so be sure to provide a surname - even for your own sisters and brothers.

(5) The key is to label your prints as soon as possible after you have them printed while the caption information is still fresh in your mind. If you leave it for a few weeks, you won’t remember who that was sitting with Aunt Martha, or what the date was.

(6) Equally important is to place the pictures in your album as soon as they are labeled to keep your albums in chronological order.

(7) It is a good idea to also label your negatives (use a black china marker to write the date and place on the negative sleeves) and to number your albums so it is easy to keep them in order.

(8) These simple steps will keep your family pictures in order and give you and your family hours of enjoyment in later years.

ALTERNATIVES TO WRITING ON YOUR PRINTS

Some photo album manufacturers make clear plastic (polypropylene) album pages that have a white writing strip on them, enabling you to write captions for your pictures on the album page instead of on the print itself. This works well until you decide to cull out repetitive photos and re-arrange the order of pictures. Then, you'll need to either erase the written descriptions (if you can), replace the pages with new ones, or leave unsightly gaps in your album where pictures have been removed.

Other album pages are designed with note-card pockets next to the picture pockets. The right-size cards on which you can write photo captions are supplied.

BUT, WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE PRINTS, IF YOUR PICTURES ARE ALL DIGITAL?

It may surprise you to find that not everyone wants to look at your pictures over your shoulder on a computer monitor, or to view just the ones you have emailed to them or that you have uploaded to be viewed on your website, blog or a third-party website that displays members' digital photos.

People like looking at prints in a family album. They can physically handle them, hold them up for discussion, show them around to others and sit back and laugh about the memories they invoke. It is easy to compare one picture with another when you have them both in your hand or laid out on the kitchen table with the family sitting around it, having a good old time with the family album. They may even ask for a copy to carry in their wallet or to frame for display in their living room.

How can you achieve this when all your pictures are digitized? Simple. Select the digital image files you'd like to have in print form, copy them to a CD or DVD and bring them into a photo lab to have them made into 4" by 6" prints, or any other size you feel is better. It can be even more convenient to zip them up and FTP or email them to a larger commercial lab that is used to supplying professional photographers with quick turn-around of high-quality prints. Your Yellow Pages can help you find such a lab.

Turning your digital pictures into prints isn't all that expensive, and can reward you with many happy moments with family and friends as you go over them and relive the memories. Just be sure to mark them with their dates and descriptive information.

Years hence you'll be happy you labeled your pictures on the front. You won't have to remove them from the album to look on the back for information, and it's easy to keep them in order.
Years hence you'll be happy you labeled your pictures on the front. You won't have to remove them from the album to look on the back for information, and it's easy to keep them in order.

The Pilot Fineliner pen performs well for writing on the surface of prints. Leave a few minutes for it to dry, however, before placing the print in your album. The ink dries fast, but is definitely not quick-dry.
The Pilot Fineliner pen performs well for writing on the surface of prints. Leave a few minutes for it to dry, however, before placing the print in your album. The ink dries fast, but is definitely not quick-dry.

Black china markers write well on slick surfaces, so they are ideal for encoding your negative storage sleeves with identifying information. They are available at most stationery shops.
Black china markers write well on slick surfaces, so they are ideal for encoding your negative storage sleeves with identifying information. They are available at most stationery shops.

These particular negatives have been clearly identified as 578B using a china marker. Yours might look different, showing for example FLA99 #1 for the first roll of your 1999 holiday in Florida.
These particular negatives have been clearly identified as 578B using a china marker. Yours might look different, showing for example FLA99 #1 for the first roll of your 1999 holiday in Florida.

A print can be labeled in all but the darkest corner, and still be legible.
A print can be labeled in all but the darkest corner, and still be legible.

 
Further information...
Displaying your pictures
Related topics...

Stamp your photographic prints