What makes a picture memorable to you? I agree that knowing good photography techniques help photographers make memorable pictures for others…they are simply cool pictures. However, for most of us, photos become memorable because they contain people and places we love. These memorable pictures are surrounded by things that are meaningful to us and mostly meaningless to others. Preserving the circumstances of your pictures is what I call creating a meaningful image context. Read along to understand what it is and how to create meaningful context for all your images.
What is a context for your digital photo?
The concept is very simple. When you take a particular image, the event and circumstances associated with that picture create its context. This is what makes this particular picture memorable to you. In other words, if you remove the image context (event, circumstances, people, etc), then that particular image becomes mostly meaningless…there is no rhyme or reason to it.
On the other hand, if the person looking at the picture can recreate the moment the picture was taken, by having the image context available, then the picture is definitely worth a thousand words.
It’s simple! You need a few words of context for an image to really be worth a thousand words.
If you want memorable photos, you must preserve the context surrounding your pictures
The main reason for thinking about the context of your pictures is to preserve your memories. You need to make your pictures memorable…which means…easy to remember.
This is the main reason we keep taking pictures…so we can remember moments and important events.
However, taking the picture of an important event is the first step in preserving the memory. The next steps are just as important, and they are mainly important for the future because then you will not remember most of the context of that picture you took 5 years ago.
Simply put, without investing some time in creating a context for your digital photos, you will lose important memories.
Simple steps for creating a context for your digital photos
There are three steps for creating a meaningful context to your images. First, create meaningful folder names and structures, then create meaningful image metadata and lastly create a geographical location context.
Start your image context by using meaningful folder names
You must start with a meaningful folder name for your groups of pictures. This is the first layer for your context and it is the simplest. You have to have a folder for holding your pictures, so might as well take advantage of it and create a meaningful folder name.
In addition, your picture folders must “live” within a meaningful folder structure…a structure that has meaning to YOU.
This is the first thing I teach people in my online course. And because everyone is different, the folder structure that is most efficient is different from person to person (Details about my course).
Add precision to your image context by creating meaningful image metadata.
This means adding words that will be saved within your image files. In particular you need keywords and possibly image captions or descriptions (See my tutorial about creating keywords)
Create a geo context for your images by adding geotags to your images
Here you are putting your images on a map. You are creating a geo context for your images which will preserve the location of a particular image (See my tutorial about geotags)
Remember why you are spending time to create a context for your digital photos
I need to make a very important note at this point. I find very few people who have the time and determination to create all three aspects of on image context. For most people creating meaningful folder names and structures is sufficient so you need to concentrate there first. Think of these as layers: you start with folders, if you have time you add some keywords and if you really need this you add geotags. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Creating meaningful folder names and keywords can be very tedious and discouraging for many people. This is why you have to keep the goal in mind…why do you do it? It’s not for now when your mind is fresh with the context for your pictures, but you’re doing it for the future so you can recreate the moments and feelings associated with your pictures.
You are truly making your pictures memorable.
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If you do a lot of image editing like I do, I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. But if you do image editing, Adobe Lightroom is my favorite.
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Use a reliable & affordable external hard drive for backing up everything on your computer. It is absolutely essential for keeping all your memories backed up and safe.