I am scanning old family photos. Any suggestions/best practice for storing the information written on the back of photos?

When it's a name or location, for example, there are metadata tags, but often it is a longer note and, not infrequently, written in a foreign language. In those cases a typical metadata tag will not suffice.

For those cases, is there a way to scan an image of the back and store that image as metadata to the image from the front?

  • 1
    Closely related question (ignoring the "lossless" aspect): A file container for storing two lossless images?
    – scottbb
    Mar 24, 2021 at 20:50
  • 1
    Some cameras store depth maps and left/right views in the metadata. They can be extracted with Exiftool. However, I don't know any tool to store additional images within tags. Metadata also tends to be modified and stripped by various applications. It's probably easiest to just name files image-front.ext and image-back.ext.
    – xiota
    Mar 25, 2021 at 5:59

2 Answers 2


I think a reasonable archival practice is to digitize both sides and maintain reference data (such as file name) for the other image separately at the "object" level.

Putting the information from the back in the metadata from the front will make it harder to be aware the information exists.

An ordinary picture of the back exposes the information. The front and back as consecutive files provides very browseable access...you might not even need to do anything with involving metadata.

Tagging the images with "front" and "back" respectively, might make search and filtering easier.

  • Yes, and I've done that when scanning myself. But I'm have a large batch of photos scanned by a commercial service that doesn't scan the back. So, looking for alternatives.
    – Will M
    Mar 24, 2021 at 22:51
  • Of course, obviously, I'd still need to scan the back to store it as metadata.
    – Will M
    Mar 24, 2021 at 23:27
  • @WillM Sorry for not understanding. The question suggested you were doing the scanning yourself to me. Mar 25, 2021 at 0:41
  • No apology necessary. I did say, "I'm scanning . . ." And, I'm seeing the consensus here as, roughly, "well, maybe you can find a way to do it, but the best practice is just scan the back and use a naming convention."
    – Will M
    Apr 8, 2021 at 16:16

The EXIF 2.3 standard has a couple of tags that might be useful:

Exif.Image.ImageDescription - ASCII - A character string giving the title of the image. It may be a comment such as "1988 company picnic" or the like. Two-bytes character codes cannot be used. When a 2-bytes code is necessary, the Exif Private tag UserComment is to be used.

Exif.Photo.UserComment - A tag for Exif users to write keywords or comments on the image besides those in ImageDescription, and without the character code limitations of the ImageDescription tag. Allows 2-byte codes.

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