I sometimes shoot at public events. I will take pictures of people/groups and, if they like the photos, give them a card with my email on so they can get a copy of the photo(s) later, if they want. To keep track of who is linked to which photo I write on the card the photo IDs (displayed in the top right of my cameras screen, the ID is also used for the filenames) and tell them to give me those numbers when they email me so I can get their photos. This isn't the most streamlined process, and takes a bit of time for each person when I could be taking more photos.

What I'd really like is to have cards with numbers already on, then somehow link photos to that card so I can quickly get back all the photos I've taken of that group. My first idea was to have cards with unique QR codes on, then have an app on my phone that let me enter the photo-IDs to be linked to that card. So I just scan the QR code then enter the IDs of the photos instead of writing them on the card. Is there any preexisting system that makes this easier? I'd really like some way to just press a button on my phone/camera to mark the photo as linked to a particular card. How do other people normally deal with this?

My general shooting kit is either a Canon 5D Mk II or 7D. I have an iphone; not sure if there are any apps available to do this sort of thing. All of my photos are imported into LightRoom 4.


4 Answers 4


Super-low-tech (or very high tech but we take it for granted: Take a photo of the card either immediately after a photo sequence it relates to and/or ensure that the subject is visible in the background. It's not 'automated' but if the card fills a majority of the frame then the card images will be easy to spot and extract when all photos are viewed in thumbnail view. I make a separate 'emailme' folder per event for these and related photos.


I use versions of this with or without prepared cards.
If meeting people who I give my details to I photograph what I give them, possibly with some identifying detail such as date and time. If people give me email or other contact addresses I photograph the details as part of the picture stream, ideally with the owner in the image as well. If there are multiple people who give me details, names etc I write brief notes against each (yellow jacket, long hair, glasses, ...) and have that as part of the photographed image as well.

If people give me a printed card I photo graph it. I may then return it or not. I explain that a year from now I may or may not know where the card is but, if I can find the photos I'll also have the contact details.

If people write down contact details such as email / kype / facebook ids / phone numbers I always get them to confirm with me what is said. I usually spell out tyhe addresses and add laarge letters in my writing next to anything at all suspect. In days gone by I have had apparently crystal clear addresses turn out to be indecipherable.

For events or similar I have a standard handout slip printed in 2 x 8 = 16 to an A4 sheet which I customise with even name and a photosite URL. It also has my contact details and room for a reference number. The reference number is the 4 digit frame number from the camera of 1 photo of relevance. Where I am moving through a crowd and trying to maximise photo time I may hand out slips and advise them that they will be in time order so if they look at around eg 8:37pm they will find their photos. Time could be written instead but frame is superior. Time is quicker verbally and more memorable.

Prior to the event etc I create a boilerplate page "These are not yet the photos you are looking for re ..." whatever, and then point a URL shortner at it. I nowadays use a 2 stage URL shortner. I use bit.ly as the fron end as it gives a user choosable address string. I use the goo.gl shortner (from guess who) to produce a code related to the actual site and I point the bit.ly system at the goo.gl "address". I do this because goo.gl gives superior stats but only a very random address code whereas bit.ly gives a good address but less good stats.

In a pinch I make up goo.gl codes while I am away and hope that they are not already assigned. Whgen I get back I set them up appropriately. As upper and lower case are counted as non identical you can usually have a fair chance of a unique address if you are creative. eg bit.ly/lady_with_small_child is liable to be unique. Alas bit.ly/AnzacDay2012 was not ! :-(. You can allways use eg bit.ly/date_nnn with good hope of success eg bit.ly/290512_101 Bit.ly addresses are also accessible as j.mp addresses
ie bit.ly/NZPHOTOS = = j.mp/NZPHOTOS. (They recently changed the way menus are interpreted and what was an index list with jumps is now a heap. Work needed).

It's all a lot easier than it sounds and quite useful.

Less formal example.
Ensure addresses are readable.
Note to self: Find better ways to take 'portraits from semi-outside moving train.

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Nikon toting China National TV photographer.
Chance meeting in a cafe.

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Ugly, garish, unprofessional looking, cheap, quick, easy, effective photo website handout slip. Someday I may make a better looking version, but quite possibly not. I'll let them judge by the photos :-). (Olin says that is not the way to do things :-) ).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for handing out cards with a URL on them. You don't have to remember or record the subject of each photo. Let them find themselves and then download/purchase the photos they like. \$\endgroup\$
    – miguelq
    May 30, 2012 at 15:01

See this article by Robert Bieber that does what you want.

He gave to each person he photographed a business card sized slip with a URL, a unique alphanumeric code, and a matching QR code printed on it. He also made sure to take a photograph of the person holding the slip, making sure the QR code was clearly visible.

a  business card sized slip with a URL, a unique alphanumeric code, and a matching QR code printed on it

Starting the next day, the persons were able to visit the URL printed on the slip, type in their code, and view/download their photos.

On his website you'll find a link to the scripts he used to generate the cards. You'll need Python to run the scripts, and a web server that supports PHP if you want to use the web viewer.

The cool thing is you don't need an app on your phone to scan the QR code at the event. One of the scripts combs through your photos and splits them up into directories by their QR codes!


I like your idea of having cards with unique QR codes on.

What works for you depends very much on what you want to achieve. The commercial event software may well be best if you want to use this to make money.

I have a system that works well enough for me without too much work. My "day job" is as an electrical design engineer, but I photograph various private and public events and functions where people want to access the photos afterwards. Weddings, birthdays, galas, graduation dinners ... - events where people want to see their own photos subsequently and maybe where they do not have any link to anyone else present - such as at a public festival.

In such situations volume may be very high with multiple photos per person or group taken rapidly and then I move on. this gives them a range of possible photos rather than 1 or 2 carefully posed ones, bu makes it necessary to have a system that minimises my overhead. So ...

I print out slips with a website address, brief introduction and contact details. This also serves as a casual business card and if people like the photos I may get referrals. I hand out slips generally to anyone who may be interested but if I take personal photo I note a "frame number" and write it on the slip in a location reserved for this and brief instructions on use. I load photos in folder groups in time sequence and provide a number range on photos in the folders. People can then go to the website and access the photos by frame number. Those who cannot handle even this low level of complexity can email me and quote a reference number and I can choose to either return photos by email or to send a URL relating. Using Fotki's "roll mode" allows me to centre a reference on a photo number and to send an email that allows them to drop into the album centered on their photo(s).

The above works well. I previously used to take email addresses and this was slow, much too much work for me, placed the onus on me, people may have been reluctant to give addresses, it took time to get address and it was not always reliably readable.


Maybe not a perfect fit, but there is a service called proofpix that has a QR coding system built into their e-commerce system. You generate a QR code on your mobile phone, then take a picture of it with your camera and then shoot your subjects. When you return, you simply upload all the images at once and their system puts the right images into their galleries. I guess you would have to still give the subjects a URL somehow to see their images. Proofpix.com


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