Personal Photo Organizing: The Up and Coming Niche for Professional Organizers

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photo organizing

Organizing is a very diverse field, with so many options for specialization. Some of the possibilities we’ve featured in the past include Family Manager Coach, Organizer Coach, Concierge, Senior Move Manager, and ADHD Coach. Today we welcome Natalie Gallagher with information about becoming a Personal Photo Organizer.


How often do you come across boxes of disorganized print photos In the process of organizing your clients’ home offices, basements, spare bedrooms and family rooms?

In the midst of decluttering, have you ever stumbled upon a closet full of old VHS tapes or a drawer full of camera memory cards?

I have witnessed first-hand the guilt, frustration, and anxiety that clients experience when their photo collections are in a state of disorder. I imagine that you have as well. Although our clients place a high value on their photo collections, they typically categorize photo management as a “someday” task, due to a lack of necessary skills, knowledge, and time required to implement a photo management system.

This is your opportunity to be a hero to your client by offering photo organizing services!

The Need

There are an estimated 1.7 trillion printed photos stored in albums, attics, and shoeboxes across America. Even more overwhelming is the volume of digital images currently generated…nearly 10 billion photos per month. It’s no wonder that retrieving a particular photo has become a frustrating challenge for the average family.

Not only do people struggle with finding photos, they are often at risk for losing their photos and videos due to insufficient backup systems, outdated media formats, and unsafe photo storage containers.

Photo management is a universal challenge.

What is a Personal Photo Organizer?

As a Personal Photo Organizer, you will assist clients by developing systems for organizing, preserving and sharing their print/digital photos and media. There is a wide range of specific services you can choose to offer, including:

  • Organizing print photos
  • Organizing digital photos
  • Converting outdated media into viewable formats
  • Installing back-up systems
  • Scanning print photos/slides
  • Creating traditional or digital photo albums
  • Creating custom photo gifts
  • Providing technology instruction/education

Most Personal Photo Organizers choose to specialize in a few of these services (e.g., print and digital photo organizing), and outsource certain components of a client project by subcontracting with other vendors/organizers (e.g., media conversion and scanning).

Projects can range from the simple (e.g., setting up a photo backup system) to the complex (digitizing a lifetime of print photos and home movies). In addition, the level of client involvement in a particular photo organizing project can vary greatly.  Some clients will choose to have you complete all aspects of the project off site, while others will prefer to work alongside you in their home, or simply have you provide a plan that they can execute on their own.

Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO)Training and Support

If offering photo organizing services appeals to you, then I strongly suggest becoming a member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO). Established in 2012, APPO is a membership association that trains, supports, and provides industry tools to its members. APPO also provides education to the general public regarding the importance of photo preservation, organization and storytelling.

I can’t say enough about the benefits of APPO membership!  As a member, you have access to a treasure trove of resources, including:

  • training webinars
  • a closed Facebook group and online forum comprised of other organizers who are eager to assist one another
  • exclusive access to cutting-edge photo products
  • discounts with APPO partners/vendors
  • a listing in the APPO “Find an Organizer” directory.

APPO hosts an annual conference, which I attended in 2014.  I was extremely impressed by the excellent training that was offered at a very reasonable price. Members can also choose to complete a certification process that consists of a series of online tests, documentation of client hours, submission of client recommendations and an interview process.

Job Requirements

Since the field of digital photo organizing is complex, ever-changing, and heavily steeped in technology solutions, professional organizers who offer photo organizing services should be comfortable with technology.  Staying on the “cutting-edge” of the field requires that you consistently invest in continuing education.

Above all else, this specialization is for individuals who have a passion for helping clients to share their life stories and safeguard their memories!

I recommend...

Natalie Gallagher, Ph.D. is a professional organizer, an APPO-Certified Personal Photo Organizer, and the owner of Refined Rooms LLC. Natalie has a life-long passion for creating order out of chaos, as well as a passion for helping people share their treasured family memories through photos. In addition to her membership in APPO, Natalie is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), and currently serves as the Director of Communications and Technology for the NAPO North Coast Ohio Chapter.

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  1. Avatar Tom on March 5, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Great information! Thanks.

  2. Avatar Daina Makinson on March 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Natalie this is a great article that clarifies what it is that we do as Personal Photo Organizers. I love the reaction I get when I tell people I’m a Photo Organizer. First they gasp as they think of all their out of control photos. Then they look at me quizzically and then ask: ” what exactly does that mean?” Thank you for helping get the word out.

    • Natalie Gallagher Natalie Gallagher on March 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm


      I have to laugh because that is the same reaction that I get! Excited to get the word out to the public that we are available to help with this ever-growing organizing challenge.

  3. Avatar Julie Kessler on March 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Very informative and clearly outlines our services. The more we get the word out, the more folks we can help. And for those considering this niche, current APPO members can offer training for best practices to get new folks up to speed.

    • Natalie Gallagher Natalie Gallagher on March 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      I second what Julie says regarding the availability of training resources via the APPO community. I find that APPO members are very generous with sharing their expertise in order to advance the photo organizing field as a whole.

  4. Avatar cathi on March 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    This is a well written, informative article about the many services a photo organizer can provide their clients. In fact, we just conducted a survey of the members of APPO. One question we asked was: ” what surprised you most about being a photo organizer.”
    The three top answers were:
    1. How much people needed them and their willingness to pay
    2. The diversity of jobs – from scanning, printed photo organizing, digital organizing, making slide shows, wall art, photobooks and more!
    3. How much their clients appreciate them and how meaningful the work is. Photos are very personal and treasured possessions.
    Please check us out at or attend our conference in Orlando to learn more!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Cathy, thank you for supplementing the great information in Natalie’s post! I’m very excited to share this business opportunity with my readers and hope many of them will be inspired to find out more.

  5. Avatar Andi Willis on March 5, 2016 at 10:16 am

    What a great summary of what personal photo organizers do. The ability to help preserve people’s special memories is really what drew me to the field. Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 5, 2016 at 10:29 am

      I think it’s something I would enjoy, if I were looking for a new direction in my business!

  6. Avatar Roger Martin on June 20, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve found APPO to be a great resource as well. When I got married in 2003 there weren’t many online options for sharing photos, so I wrote a web app called Gallery Server to share my honeymoon photos. The app got more attention than the photos, so I polished it up and started giving it away for free. Today it’s my full time job. Although I have commercial versions to pay the bills, I like giving back to communities that have helped me, so I have a policy of giving a free copy of Gallery Server Home & Nonprofit to any APPO member. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at and I’ll hook you up. Hope this doesn’t sound like self-promotion – just trying to spread the love!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 21, 2016 at 6:37 am

      Wow, Roger, that’s a very generous offer! I’m happy to help spread the word.

  7. Avatar TruOrganizer on November 24, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Natalie, that’s a great post and I believe APPO is doing a great job by developing systems for organizing, preserving and sharing their print/digital photos and media. I would love to introduce you to Tru – which can be a handy tool for Photo organizers.

    Tru is a dead easy photo organizer that pulls photos from all sources you connect, de-dupes them and organizes them in a simple YYYY-MMM folder format – and it continues to do this automatically watching for new photos in connected sources. Would love your feedback!

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