I've got about 9'000 family photos already (made with my own camera over the last 10 years), plus I'm about to start scanning grandma's archive of physical photos (several hundred more).

So I'm starting to desire something better than just a folder-with-the-date system. Even more - I'd like to store extra metadata with the old scanned photos - who the people in them are, where the photo was taken, perhaps some stories about them... Not really sure about all the possible things that could go in there.

After that, well, I guess all the photos should be searchable/sortable by the metadata, and perhaps it should be nice to export a "gallery" or "slideshow" with the pictures & metadata that can be viewed on another computer that doesn't have the sowftware installed.

The metadata format should also be popular/standardized enough that it wouldn't get obsolete in 30 years, though I guess that's something that nobody can predict. I've noticed XMP being mentioned here, that sounds good, though I guess it'd need to be shadowed in a DB for all the searching/sorting.

So, is there anything that can be suggested for a task like this? I know that many professional photographers swear by Adobe Lightroom, but that seems like an overkill for simply an archival system. Expensive too, though I think it came with a cloud-based backup option, which could offset the cost (I'm currently using Microsoft OneDrive as the cheapest option for off-site backups).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Picasa from Google ticks several of your boxes and has the advantage of being free. \$\endgroup\$
    – db9dreamer
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can start with some free photo organizers to understand what you need. And after playing a few days you will have better idea how your ideal photo manager should looks like. Below are free photo organizers: - Daminion Free - Picasa - PicaJet Free - Microsoft Photo Gallery - XNView \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 8:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ While true that this question was answered 5 years ago, times change. Digikam is a free software app that includes features such as face recognition and pinning images on a global map. A server/browser based option is the (also free software) Resource Space. \$\endgroup\$
    – asp
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


You can probably add the metadata that you'd like to in a number of free programs. I know that RawTherapee can, but that's a raw converter and not meant to be an image database.

However, Lightroom is selling for $77 at B&H, which isn't too bad. Another possibility is idImager, which is a dedicated image database, but that's $80 and doesn't include LR's Camera Raw converter.

Given the amount of time that you're going to end up spending on this project, I think Lightroom is a good investment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is B&H? And - I thought that Adobe had moved to a cloud/subscription model, and the only way to get their products now is through a monthly fee (13€ in this case)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vilx-
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 23:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ B&H is major retailer for both photography and video, and is know for its knowledgeable sales staff and utter trustworthiness. Over the years, I've bought practically all my equipment from them. Their website is www.bhphotovideo.com Lightroom is indeed still available for sale; I don't know if any of their other products are. \$\endgroup\$
    – JenSCDC
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I checked it out. Interesting. However the $77 edition is for students and teachers - and unfortunately I'm neither. :( The full edition costs twice as much, whether for download or a box. Which is equal to about 9 months of subscription. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vilx-
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoops! My bad. I just say $77 when I checked the price and didn't read the fine print. However, IDimage does appear to to be a true $80. \$\endgroup\$
    – JenSCDC
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 23:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Although Adobe has moved to a subscription model for most of their products, Lightroom is still available as a standalone (as well as subscription). This seems like a much better option if you are not even using it for editing, as you are unlikely to want to upgrade any time soon. Paying $10 a month just to archive your photos on your own drive and loosing the ability to use that archive without paying the piper seems like a bad option. I would keep looking for something dedicated to that purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – Robin
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 0:19

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