Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday's Tip: Photo Captions with Context

Identifying the people (and their relationship) in old family photos is a must. But often that's not enough to convey the what, when, where, and why of the photo. That's why it's important to include some context when captioning photos, with future generations in mind. I often write a page of explanation to file with the photo, and when digitizing, I add info right on the image.

For example: When I captioned the photos from my parents' wedding, I included not only their names, but the hotel/city, date, and a description of what was happening in the photo. (In my printed version, I explained more about their ages, occupations, my mother's gold lame dress, and everything else I know about the wedding.)

In this photo, Mom and Dad were reading congratulatory telegrams they received during their wedding luncheon. Telegrams? Yup, I labeled the activity, because with ever-changing technology, younger relatives don't ordinarily encounter telegrams in daily life. How could they know what's happening in this photo? So I added that context.

Now future generations will have an idea of what a telegram looks like, and the light bulb will go on (an LED light bulb these days).


  1. How do I add a caption to a photograph?

  2. Dorothy, I used the now-obsolete program Picasa to add text to digital images. Most of the programs allow you to add text on a digital image, using "add text" or some similar functions. I just choose a color that is visible against the photo. Be sure to save the image with AND without text, so you don't wind up with text on your only digital image of a precious family photo. Good luck! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. great idea. It makes the photo more valuable genealogically.

  4. No more unknown photos for the generations that follow you Marian! Oh how I wish someone before me had done that with many of the photos that I have. Most of the few that I have are totally unmarked and of people, I don't know and haven't been able to identify. I need to spend some time doing this on my more current photos though.

    That picture of your parents is a treasure.

  5. Yes, great photo and a great idea. I've done a bit of this to identify people in group photos but never thought to add additional info.