Permanently Attach Metadata to Family Heritage Photos

Do you ever do things with good intentions that go terribly wrong?


In December I told everyone how I was really getting into scanning all my family heritage photos but what I didn’t mention was the fact that a lot of them were in the shape of circles or ovals. Eek…



So many moons ago when I put these albums together for my parents, I made the terrible mistake of cutting a ton of my parents’ old photos into cute shapes and attaching them in cute layouts in my oh-so-cute Creative Memory albums. Yikes! And I was a CM consultant at the time as well, so I’m not sure what I was thinking when I did all that. Actually, I think that I was trying to “zoom” into the main focus of the picture and take out all the “clutter” of unwanted background but really… I should have made copies first and cut those copies into the cute shapes. I still love the look of the pages, but it has caused a nightmare as I go back and try to scan them in and make them look consistent for this kind of a massive family history project.


Of course, using Photoshop is an option, but I have been challenging myself to find ways to use my phone so that I can make the process portable. I love the idea of being able to work on this while I’m in the process of scanning the photos. The bonus is that while I’m using the app, Supermatic, to do my clean up work, I can easily add the date, names and story right on to the photo so that it sticks no matter what happens later on. And I love it!


As I mentioned above, I came across an app called Supermatic. The description for the app says, “Supermatic is the fast, smart, and creative way to design your photo memories. Combine photos, dates, journaling and design elements to tell the stories that most matter to you.” This seems very simple, but as I work with my heritage photos along with all my family research, I found myself wishing that I could pull the captions along with the photos so that I could have all the great information following along with the picture. And yes, I could do that with metadata, but again, it is out of sight, which for this visual-type-of-a-person, is frustrating. I wanted both the scrapbook and photo combined and this is why I’m loving Supermatic. I also ran into different articles that seemed to suggest that metadata, or parts of it, didn’t always stick with the photo depending on what app or program you used with it.




The icing on the cake, as far as Supermatic was concerned, was the fact that I could upload and use PNG’s. Here’s where it really got my mind working… I could make a PNG that would cover up the extra “stuff” that scanned in with the photo around all the crazy circles and ovals that I have throughout these two books. I made up about five different PNG’s inside Photoshop and saved them to my Dropbox so that I could load them into Supermatic as I needed them.



Now I have clean photos and it is feels almost zen-like to me to look at them. Oh, I know I sound ridiculous but figuring this out hasn’t been easy!


But wait, like an info-product demo, there is more! I can now click on the Frames option inside Supermatic and see my picture in different layouts. If I choose one that has extra white space, I can add a date as well as enter the names and a short background story about the photo. This means that I have my “metadata” right there on the photo in its’ own capsule.

Here are several “Before” pictures straight out of PhotoScan:





I think you can easily see my problem. All this extra clutter around the photos does not make me very happy to look at when taken one by one. Below is the view I now get when I look at my file of my family heritage photos. I think you might agree that it makes each photo almost self-contained. No more having to worry about metadata and keeping the important information with the photo because it is now a part of the photo!




So, if I want to use it in a scrapbook page later on, I have all the information that pulls right along with the photo. I don’t have to search for it. I don’t have to look back at the scrapbook album where I scanned it from. It is all self-contained right there on the photo! That’s a “Yay!” in my book. One other side benefit is that I can upload these photos to my Ancestry tree or whatever tree I decide to add it to and it will have all the information attached already. It stays with the photo (as long as the photo isn’t edited and reloaded) and that is a benefit as well because I know my information is accurate.


Once I have it all ready to go, I then save it to my camera roll and another copy to my Dropbox. Once I am in the Dropbox download screen, I can change the file name of the photo I am saving. I am going with one photo folder for all my heritage photos and one for my husband’s family. This way I can see them as a whole and satisfy my need to visually see them all together.


File organization is so very personal that I hesitate to show you mine because it might or might not work for you, but here it is just in case:


Format:  Year-Surname of family[space]First name-City[space]State


Example:  1946-Burch Audree-Salem Center IN


Now I can see all the photos in context by year and yet they are separated by surnames. I can choose to add all the major names as well since it is so very easy to do a search within Explorer. This feels like a game-changer for me and I’m not even over exaggerating that.


Another bonus is that if I would choose to use a photo and simply drag and drop it into the layout as it is. Now, I’m toying with adding different frames into my PNG folder as well as a few decorative elements. I also can add the real metadata to flow along with the photo. The one technical issue that I found with PhotoScan was that I couldn’t update the metadata on the scanned photo. It just wouldn’t let me change the information no matter how much I tried to work around it but I am very happy with this resulting outcome because now I have the best of both worlds and feel ready to get my heritage photos finally under control.


Just a side note about this whole project: There have been some unexpected side benefits that I couldn’t have predicted but should have. It has given me a calmness and sense of peace as I work with these photos. They are all the reason I am here and without them, I certainly wouldn’t be here. I’m noticing details that I never saw before. It is an exquisite feeling and I like it. Cheers to the new year — may it be an equally satisfying and peaceful time for you and your family!


*** If you are interested in Supermatic, please note that it is not a free app. I believe that it costs $2.99 and if you would like to be able to add the PNG’s, you will need to upgrade inside the app for $1.99. It is a sister product to LetterGlow which is another fantastic app for adding text and layers.


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  • Heather Dreith January 20, 2017   Reply →

    This was very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I use Dropbox and have it set up so my phone photos automatically go there as soon as I take them. If I decided to use the Supermatic app, that wouldn’t work, would it? Still, it might be worth it to work with the photos, then upload them to Dropbox on a regular, timely basis.

    • Michele Kerr July 7, 2017   Reply →

      Hello Heather! I’ve been experimenting myself with ways to make sure that I can locate photos and we just have to get creative when it comes to our new digital age of keeping our pics. I recently added an article and you can find it HERE

      It has definitely changed the way I work with my heritage photos as well as research documents! I’d love to hear what your thoughts are!

  • Denise October 10, 2017   Reply →

    To let others view the finished result, do they have to be using the app as well?

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