How to record information on a print (without ruining it)

freixas

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I recently started printing my own images.

Sometimes I find that I want to associate some information with a print, the most obvious being the print date. I've found myself with multiple copies of the same image and trying to determine which one was the last one I printed.

I don't want to do anything that adversely affects the print. In ancient days, the advice was to write with pencil on the back. Obviously, one would have to be careful to not dent the image when doing this. I just tried it on one of the inkjet photo papers I have and the pencil barely registered. Ink seems like it would be damaging. Maybe there are some stickers with archival-quality glue?

I don't know, maybe I'm the only one with this problem. I'm sure a lot of people only print one of anything, so it wouldn't be an issue.

Suggestions welcome.
 
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freixas

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I went through the write-up more carefully. The stabilo-all pencils sound like the right answer for me. They will apparently write on plastic and a lot of other stuff. Standard pencils contain graphite and clay. The stabilo-all colored pencils have graphite and pigments and maybe something else that makes their magic work.

My only concern is the possibility that the writing will transfer if photos are stacked. Anyone have experience with this? If not, I can buy some stabilo-all pencils and try it out with some test prints.

The site also suggested using envelopes or files to avoid writing on a photo altogether. That sounds good, but it could get a little pricey with 13"x19" prints, which is what I have.
 
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freixas

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I have used sleeves similar to the following in the past for archiving with a sticker on the outside of the sleeve. They also have Photo Pockets and I think they are a bit cheaper.
Lineco 13x19 Digital Output Sleeves - Standard 3mil (25)

Thanks! Both the output sleeves and the photo pockets sound like good ideas. And yes, the photo pockets are a lot cheaper! 100 pockets (holds 200 prints) for $30.40 vs. 100 sleeves for 4 x $27.95 (almost $120!).
 

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I don't have the same problem but close. I use Photoshop and just increase the Canvas Size a tad at the bottom and type in the info that is not already in the file name. That small strip can be cropped off the image or cut off the print if needed.
A script can be made to do the resize and leave you ready to type.
 
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freixas

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I don't have the same problem but close. I use Photoshop and just increase the Canvas Size a tad at the bottom and type in the info that is not already in the file name. That small strip can be cropped off the image or cut off the print if needed.
A script can be made to do the resize and leave you ready to type.

Wow! Aren't you a clever one! This never occured to me. Thank you!
 

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I'd suggest writing the info. on whatever you're using to organize and store the prints. I've used photo storage boxes with an index card, or photo albums with sleeves that hold 2-4 photos with a slot to slide in a piece of paper/cardboard to write on. I also use storage boxes and tissue sheets in between the prints; you could enclose a piece of paper or write on the box I suppose.

I have a Stabilo somewhere, not sure what I used it for but I think it's white or yellow, so maybe on proof sheets. I also use an Identi-pen to write on film cartridges/canisters and proof sheets. Usually doing darkroom work I'd write on the back of the proof sheets. Same with digital, I don't write on the prints. I'd suggest finding another way to organize, or at least use tissue sheets in between, although that may not completely protect them, I wouldn't chance it myself writing on prints. If I did, maybe on the lower edge on the back with an Identi-pen.

I'm not sure that it's necessary to have the date on prints. For digital I note the date (often just month/year unless it was a game or event) on the digital folder for a series or set of photos. Then I name any photos that I edit, use, or print. I just leave the number if I don't do anything with a photo.

I have kept prints to be able to see the progression thru the printing process to the final product. With darkroom prints I can see if one was too light/dark, then I note on the back of the proof sheet that I adjusted and did a second longer/shorter exposure, etc. With digital once I have a final product I usually print an extra. I don't usually write on the 'duds' but those I doubt I'd worry about writing on the back and then storing them separately from my final prints - which eventually go in a storage box or porfolio/album.

I use supplies that are archivally safe, acid free. I've bought from Freestyle and maybe Gaylord (I've been on their site, not sure what I might have bought.) Or try Dick Blick/Utrect (which I think is all the same company now) or Jerry's Artarama.
Home | Freestyle Photographic Supplies
Gaylord Archival | Archival Supplies, Exhibit & Display Cases
 
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freixas

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I'd suggest writing the info. on whatever you're using to organize and store the prints. I've used photo storage boxes with an index card, or photo albums with sleeves that hold 2-4 photos with a slot to slide in a piece of paper/cardboard to write on. I also use storage boxes and tissue sheets in between the prints; you could enclose a piece of paper or write on the box I suppose.

I have a Stabilo somewhere, not sure what I used it for but I think it's white or yellow, so maybe on proof sheets. I also use an Identi-pen to write on film cartridges/canisters and proof sheets. Usually doing darkroom work I'd write on the back of the proof sheets. Same with digital, I don't write on the prints. I'd suggest finding another way to organize, or at least use tissue sheets in between, although that may not completely protect them, I wouldn't chance it myself writing on prints. If I did, maybe on the lower edge on the back with an Identi-pen.

I'm not sure that it's necessary to have the date on prints. For digital I note the date (often just month/year unless it was a game or event) on the digital folder for a series or set of photos. Then I name any photos that I edit, use, or print. I just leave the number if I don't do anything with a photo.

I have kept prints to be able to see the progression thru the printing process to the final product. With darkroom prints I can see if one was too light/dark, then I note on the back of the proof sheet that I adjusted and did a second longer/shorter exposure, etc. With digital once I have a final product I usually print an extra. I don't usually write on the 'duds' but those I doubt I'd worry about writing on the back and then storing them separately from my final prints - which eventually go in a storage box or porfolio/album.

I use supplies that are archivally safe, acid free. I've bought from Freestyle and maybe Gaylord (I've been on their site, not sure what I might have bought.) Or try Dick Blick/Utrect (which I think is all the same company now) or Jerry's Artarama.
Home | Freestyle Photographic Supplies
Gaylord Archival | Archival Supplies, Exhibit & Display Cases

Thanks, (other) Sharon! I appreciate your thoughts.

If you didn't see it, check Denny's suggestion above—for me, it sounds like the best option.

The Stabilo-All pencils should be OK. In addition to Archival Methods (they should know, right?) I saw other mentions of these being OK for archival prints, again by people who should know. My main concern was in the writing smearing onto another photo. I was planning on using Stabilo-All pencils and placing tissues between prints. I think I'll drop the Stabilo-All pencils for Denny's idea.

The date I was going to add was the print date (and probably time). I could easily print two images on the same day; the most critical item is making sure I know which one is the latest. The date the image was taken is part of the digital metadata in the image, duplicated in the file creation date and my folder name, so that's covered and I do not need it on the print. I'll probably also add the folder and image name, so I can easily locate the original source file from the print.
 

Dave442

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If I needed that kind of detail on each print then I would use what Dennybeall noted and then just have my file-name placed in the margin. My usual file-name is the yyyy-mm-dd_"name from camera"_Title_Copy. Lightroom adds the prefix to the "name from camera" upon import and then adds the suffix's upon Export. You could have LR include hh for hour to the file name (but I usually just make a new virtual copy and just give it a sequential number to note that it is a later copy or just renumber the existing copy).
 

vintagesnaps

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So why do you need the print date? I'm just wondering why you'd need to know that down the road.

How do you intend to use these prints? I'm thinking putting it on an edge then later cropping that off would give you an odd size to mat/frame later.
 

adamhiram

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I would like to provide some feedback, since this is something I have been wondering about for a long time, and really benefited from this post. Digitally, all of my photos have the date in the file name, and any significant information such as event, location, and who is in a photo is in the tags. I make a habit of getting 4x6 prints of anything worth saving, and in a perfect world, I would love to have all of this metadata printed clearly on the back of every one.

I figured the next best thing would be to just write this information by hand on the back of each, but observed the same common problems described in the link provided by @480sparky above. Pencil doesn't write that well, pen ink bleeds and doesn't age well, both have the problem of leaving noticeable indentations in the photo paper if I press too hard, and Sharpie markers can show through on lighter prints.

I ended up ordering several products recommended in the article above and even called them up on the phone to ask for recommendations, and here is what I found.
  • Staedtler Lumocolor permanent markers (0.4mm) worked very well on prints that were coated on the back. However, I noticed it is a very wet ink that immediately bleeds through regular, non-coated paper, and even on coated prints, I'm pretty sure I can slightly see the writing through the paper on prints with light solid backgrounds.
  • Tech-liner drawing markers sounded like the right choice for writing on paper surfaces, but after talking with them on the phone, they recommended against using them, saying the Lumocolor markers were more appropriate for coated prints, and my best bet would likely be Stabilo-All pencils
  • Stabilo-All pencils worked very well on the backs of prints without showing through, I did not have to press very hard, and they seem relatively smudge-proof. I was able to get it to smudge with some pretty aggressive rubbing, but the smudges erased pretty easily, and the gentleman from archivalmethods.com assured me it will not rub off on adjacent prints. My only gripe, other than paying almost $2 per pencil, is that I still need to go buy a pencil sharpener.
In the end, the Stabilo-All pencils will be my choice for writing on the backs of photos moving forward.

Thank you @480sparky for the link, and I hope others can benefit from this!
 
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