Quickly find your best (or worst) photos

Our family takes a lot of digital photos and videos.

I imagine that someday my 2 children (Serena and Lucy) will want to see what sorts of things they did as they grew up, so my wife and I—and even the kids—snap shots of all the fun things we do as a family. 

Sounds great, right? Well, it is, but the hard part comes when you want to  find, print, or create a scrapbook from some of those photos.   So to deal with that challenge I’ve put together my own system, which also works for my kids and wife—and you. And I’m confident that 20 years from now, people will still be able to quickly find their favorite photos and videos.

Here’s what we do:

We have a bunch of different cameras, and at any point in time there are photos on some cameras that have not been taken off.  I’ll get the camera, plug it into the computer, sit with whoever took the photos, and we’ll quickly rate them.  Five minutes tops.  Then, to the ones we have 3-, 4, or 5-star rated, we add tags based on people, places, activities and captions for specific things we may want to find later.  Again, this takes maybe 5 minutes max. You do not need to spend a lot of time doing this.  Just nail the basics. The most important thing here is to determine what is important to you personally. For my parents, for example, they do a lot of travelling in South America, so their tags are mainly about places. For me, I focus on people, so I have lots of tags about people. You should determine what works for you and make that your structure. 


At any rate, once you have developed a system for getting the photos on your computer tagged the way you want them, then the filtering part becomes a snap with Windows Live Photo Gallery. The way I think about it is that you can use the left tabs as your first cut at your photos.

Imagine I just wanted to quickly print all 4- and 5- star photos of Lucy from 2008. Use this easy process to get that view on your photos:  (1) Select Date Taken and then 2008.  (2) Then type Lucy in the search box.  (3) Then you select 4-star and higher in the filter menu on the top, and all of the photos and videos of Lucy that are 4- and 5- star in 2008 will be in the view.  (4) Then you select Arrange by and select type.  (5) Next, right-click the background at the bottom and select Sort by -> Date Taken in the menu.  (6) Finally select Photos in the top bar, and that will select all of the 4- and 5-star photos of Lucy. 

From there you can print them.  (7) I prefer to print online, so I click Print and Order Prints. Walgreens is on my way home from work, so I click Walgreens and Order Prints. Walk through the order process and you are done!


It’s a snap 🙂


Comments (4)

  1. olafbrandt says:

    It’s too bad that the "Author" Information attribute of photos is indexed the same as other photo tags.  Since I take most of the pictures in our family searching on my name brings up all the pictures, rather than just the pictures tagged with my name.

  2. Luap777 says:

    Flexible grouping of people tags is an absolute necessity.

    Let us make "people sets". Once they are made, you pick one from a dropdown, and only those people will show in the "people tree". This would make it easy to work with large lists of people. I’m tagging a large number of photos from 1900 to present. Many of those people I don’t need in the people list other times. The people sets would just be a GUI-niceness, the information wouldn’t be embedded in the photos, just stored locally for the sake of GUI-organization. Something like this wouldn’t cause breaking changes I would think.

  3. Eric Riehl says:

    My find isn’t working at all. No matter what I type, "No items match your search." is returned. I’ve tried tags, filenames, etc, but nothing.

    Is this a problem with the install of SQL Server compact edition? I also have SQL Server 2005 Express installed on this box.

  4. Luap777 says:

    Just a few more suggestions on people tags:

    1) Allow us to right-click and add a comment to a person. We could add a little reminder about who someone was (other than just their name as the node text)…if they aren’t close to the family.

    2) Might violate simplicity =))) but it would be great to add key/value pairs of data to a person. Personally, I’d use this to add PersonID which is a guid that ties a person together with other information I already have in database/family tree. Others could use this to add simple fields about a person such as birth year, place of birth, or anything else.