Overcoming Photo Organizing Anxiety
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Have I mentioned lately how much I love my network? Even though I wasn’t at NAPO2016, I’ve been able to share many highlights of the conference with you, courtesy of the wonderful women in my online community. In fact, today’s guest blogger connected with me after the conference, having heard wonderful things about my blog from Seana Turner and other organizing professionals.
I’m now pleased to introduce Jodi Bart Holzband from SpareFoot, with some fabulous information from one of the NAPO2016 Conference sessions.
The extent of photo organizing practiced by many professional organizers includes gathering errant photos into a neat stack and placing them into a pretty box. However, at Cathi Nelson and Sherra Humphreys‘ engaging session at NAPO 2016, it was clear that there are many in the field that are interested in exploring the idea of adding this in-demand service to their portfolio.
The session was well-attended, and both Cathi and Sherra created short videos to introduce themselves using photos from their childhood to the present day, to illustrate one of the ways a well-organized photo collection can help tell a story.
Cathi is the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (name changed to The Photo Managers in 2020), an organization that supports its hundreds of members by offering ongoing training, a supportive community, and professional credibility. Sherra is a certified photo organizer who designs training tools and resources to help photo organizers expand their businesses.
The main objective of the session was to inspire participants to organize their own family photo collection – both printed and digital – in order to decrease anxiety and build confidence in managing clients’ photos.
Topics included scanning, backup solutions, and creating a digital file structure. They handed out a detailed action plan that included a glossary of terms and list of tools. They encouraged organizers to recognize which parts of a project can be outsourced to other professionals (or perhaps a neighborhood teenager). They also outlined an action plan that included tips on returning to past and existing clients to offer this new service.
The action plan included the following recommendations:
Practice by organizing your own photos
Schedule steps on a calendar just like you would schedule client work. This includes committing to a start date, an end date, and working sessions over the coming months. They recommended beginning now in order to have plenty of time to organize your own photo collection and be ready to launch in September – which happens to be Save Your Photos Month.
The average consumer has 10-15,000 photos in their home – most of them are still in the envelopes they came from, or have been inherited from parents. Designate a table for the project and and put a tablecloth on it to cover any mess underneath. You’ll need a large garbage bag ready. Collect all loose photos, negatives, slides, and albums and put everything you find in boxes beneath the table.
Once you’re ready to organize, gather sticky notes, colored index cards, cotton gloves, large clear storage bags, and a photo labeling pencil to help you in the sorting process. Before you start, think about how you want to organize your photos. Perhaps create a timeline that shows birth dates, wedding dates, milestone events, etc. Try not to get too bogged down in the details here. You may want to organize photos by theme or category instead. Examples include: birth, toddler years, childhood, weddings, vacations, holidays, etc.
The ABC’s of photo organizing
The A photos belong in an album and these are the photos that you will want to digitize, back up, and display. These are the ones that you would mourn if you lost them. The B photos can into a photo safe box, and are the ones you aren’t ready to part with and want to have access to at some point in the future, and the C photos should be thrown away. The goal is to eliminate 70-80% of the printed photos.
Time yourself as you do the process to figure out how long it’s taking you so you know how long it would take to do it for someone else. Track the process and take copious notes. With experience, you can eyeball a potential project and give potential clients an idea of how much it would cost to take on their project. For example, an inch of photos is about 100 photos, and a shoe box fits about 1500 photos. When working with clients, you can snap photos with your phone as you go along to ask quick questions about who is in a photo, or when it was taken.
Buy or rent a Kodak PS50 which scans 50-100 photos a minute or you can outsource your scanning to a contractor. Note that a scanner will often pay for itself with just one client, as companies generally charge $0.25 to $1.50 a picture for scanning. This would be a separate charge along with your hourly fee. You can also hire a teenager to do your scanning for you at a lesser rate if there’s a lot to do.
Backup the “digital mess”
Purchase a 2 TB external hard drive to use as your photo hub. It’s also a good idea to backup your entire computer with a cloud service like Backblaze or Crashplan.
Open for business
Contact your favorite existing or past client and ask them if they would like you to organize their photos. It might make sense to just start small with one client and build from there.
Photo organizing is a means to an end. People want their photos organized so that they can see them or share them with others in a sustainable way. Once the photos are organized, there are many ways to organize and share them so that they tell a story. This includes legacy photo albums, slideshows, videos, baby albums, and more. Managing people’s lifetime of photos and creating a beautiful library of memories for their bookshelf is something that never goes out of style.
Take the Pledge
During September, in honor of International Save Your Photos Month, APPO will be hosting events to teach you skills and techniques to help you with the challenges of photo organization. “Take the pledge” to save your photos, and you’ll receive daily emails to inspire and guide you through the process.
Image © scyther5 / depositphotos
Jodi Bart Holzband is an editor at SpareFoot, the largest marketplace for storage – both self-storage and full-service, making it simpler to move and store your stuff. You can connect with SpareFoot on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.