From Overwhelmed to Empowered: How One Couple Mastered Two Large Photo Collections

From Overwhelmed to Empowered: How One Couple Mastered Two Large Photo Collections

What does a man do with 10 plastic bins full of family photographs, history and memorabilia? Jim Grange wasn’t sure, but he knew he needed help.

When Jim and his wife Pam moved his dad and mom into an independent living community, they brought home all of his parents’ photos and memorabilia. Jim wanted to organize the photos and create keepsake gifts for his parents and siblings, but didn’t know where to start.

Our team helped Jim and Pam with the step-by-step process of organizing their parents’ photos and videos, as well as their own family photo collection. This is the story of how these determined clients went from overwhelmed to empowered.

A Team Effort To Assess and Strategize a Plan

At first, the Granges couldn’t see past the enormity of their projects. Pam describes their feelings as they faced the stacks of bins in their basement, “We were so overwhelmed at the start and had no clue how to begin to categorize all of the thousands of photos.” (more…)

Love Not Lost: A Mission Close to Our Hearts

A Mission Close to Our Hearts

For people facing a terminal diagnosis (and the people who love them) the news is devastating.

What if there was a way to capture those last moments of someone with a terminal illness, and create a final legacy to pass on to the people they love?

I often talk about how photos can help us cope with loss and serve as reminders of who we are and what’s important to us. At Picture This Organized, we are proud of the work we do and how we help our clients and their families preserve their family legacies.

In addition to serving our own clients, Picture This Organized also wants to leave a legacy through our support of organizations that share our mission. Love Not Lost is one such organization.

Love Not Lost photographs people facing a terminal diagnosis, and helps families preserve memories by providing free portrait sessions and heirloom albums. (more…)

What to Do with That Box of Memorabilia

What to Do with That Box of Memorabilia Sitting in Your Closet

Most of us have little piles (or giant collections) of memorabilia tucked away in our closets.

Your memorabilia box might include:

  • Your children’s (or grandchildren’s) artwork or schoolwork.
  • Family keepsakes that have been handed down through generations.
  • Ticket stubs, trip itineraries, or other evidence of your travels over the years.
  • Letters from loved ones.
  • Anything that has special significance to you.

No matter what your collection includes, it can be difficult to decide what to do with these items. (more…)

What Millennials Absolutely Must Know About Their Photos

What Millennials Absolutely Must Know About Their Photos

In my last post, I talked about how my photo organizing company helps seniors organize, maintain, and pass down their photo collections.

Millennials have unique gifts that makes working with them different than assisting seniors, but both groups are wonderful in their own ways!

My children, and my client’s children, are from the “millennial” generation, which typically means they were born between 1980 and 2000.

In this post, we’re going to talk about how working with the younger crowd is different, why I love working with them, and discuss the most important lessons and advice I want to share with millennials about preserving their photo collections.

How Working with Millennials Is Unique

1. The millennial generation takes lots of pictures.

Millennials have had smartphones most of their lives, so they’re used to having cameras in their pockets at all times.

Their friends, their pets, buildings, funny moments, food, new hairstyles, new cars, new outfits – they are all worthy subjects for photos. They like taking selfies, and they know how to pose for the camera. Many millennials even have a “go-to pose” that they use in all their photos!

2. They are comfortable with technology.

Adapting to technology is a no-brainer for most millennials, because technology has always been a part of their lives. Unlike older generations, they are not intimidated by technology, and they are willing to jump in and learn something on their own if they need to.

Their photo collections are often kept on their phones and synced with a library system like Google or Apple’s Photos program. They may spend time organizing their photos in albums, but are more likely to do a quick search to find what they need.

My children and their spouses/fiancées don’t hesitate to try new apps for their phones or computers – they are fearless, and they learn quickly. Without question or hesitation, millennials use technology to make purchases, control the television, or search for things on their phone and computers.

This fearlessness and knowledge benefits me in my work as a professional photo organizer, because members of the younger generation have taught me a lot of shortcuts for navigating my computer and editing photos!

3. Millennials use social media and technology largely as a way to stay in touch.

Communication and connection are the name of the game for millennials. They share photos via text messages and social media sites, save photos on their devices, and create collages of their favorite images.

Most millennials have profiles on multiple social media sites. They visit these sites several times each day, and post photos to their profiles on a regular basis.

4. They are adventurous and have a strong sense of community.

Millennials like to travel, and they have a strong sense of local and global community that gives them a wanderlust to see the world.

They have confidence in themselves and their potential to influence the future. The world is their oyster, and they are eager to make a difference.

Members of this generation often photograph themselves, the community, and their surroundings with an appreciation for the cultural and social differences they experience. With airline ticket deals and affordable accommodation options like Airbnb, they can see the world on a budget and have travel experiences that today’s seniors only dreamed of when they were in their twenties.

Dining out is often an opportunity for a new, sometimes exotic experience. Millennials like to take pictures of their meals and share them on social media….after all, a photograph of food has a story to share, too!

5. Millennials can be impatient.

The millennials are sometimes called the “we want it now” generation, so they can be impatient when things move slowly. On-demand services like Amazon, Google, and Uber contribute to that sense of impatience, because so many things they need are available within seconds or minutes.

What I Want to Tell Millennials About Their Photos

Because issues for millennials are very specific (and those issues don’t necessarily apply to seniors or people who are middle-aged), there are certain lessons and tips about photos that I consistently share with younger people. These lessons are:

Lesson 1: Remember that your photos are part of your legacy.

Even if you aren’t in a committed relationship, and even if you don’t have kids, photos are part of your legacy! You should be good stewards of your images and videos, and make sure you always value the stories they have to tell.

Your photo collection needs to be preserved, so future generations can enjoy seeing the moments you’ve worked so hard to capture over the years.

Lesson 2: It’s critical that you back up your photos and videos regularly, to ensure your favorite moments aren’t lost.

As I seek to understand how millennials take and share images, I’ve found that having simple resources for organizing, maintaining, and backing up is a priority for you.

The most important message I convey to this generation is the importance of backing up your photos. As a millennial, you tend to be frugal, living on a budget and only buying what you need. Spending additional money to back up your smartphone photos isn’t typically a financial priority.

You typically don’t worry about whether you have originals or optimized versions backed up. Just knowing that your photos exist “somewhere” is good enough for you, and many of you haven’t needed to pay attention to whether or not your photos are secure – until you learn the importance of good backup systems “the hard way” by losing your photos.

Because of these issues, setting up a backup system for millennials must be easy, fast and affordable.

As I’ve talked about before on this blog, syncing photos between devices doesn’t really qualify as a backup. A backup is an additional copy of photos that’s stored separately from the originals of the photos.

Setting a backup system to automatically save photos from an external hard drive and a computer is typically only $5 per month, which is less than you probably spend on coffee each month! You can check out step six of this post for more information on setting up a simple, fast, affordable backup system for your photos.

Lesson 3: Be careful about the photos you share with others.

As a millennial, you are probably very casual about your photos, because you’re sharing images and videos constantly in your daily life.

But please remember that the photos you take now may not be the ones you will want to keep in the future – especially if the images are compromising shots of you having crazy adventures with friends.

Before you share a photo with a friend or on social media, consider whether you would want the image to be publicly available in a few years. Once compromising or embarrassing images are posted online and publicly available, removing them next to impossible.

Getting the Message to Millennials

Millennials are a joy to work with as a photo organizer, but it’s important that you embrace the concept of having a photo legacy, set up a consistent backup system for your photos, and be careful about the photos you share publicly.

Do you know a millennial who could use a reminder about these important lessons? Share this post with that person via social media or email! You can use the buttons in the header and footer of this post to pass on this article. Thanks!

7 Ways Photo Organizers Can Help Seniors

7 Ways Photo Organizers Can Help Seniors

I love working with seniors in my professional photo organizing business.

I enjoy helping seniors preserve the family legacies that are captured in their photos, while being mindful of managing a photo collection that they would like to pass onto their children and grandchildren.

I define “seniors” as anyone in their 50s and older with grown children and grandchildren. Seniors are especially important to me – maybe because I’m technically a senior citizen, too!

I enjoy the chance to help my own tribe of people who share my passion for families and their stories.

In this post, I’ll be talking about how I help seniors manage their photo collections and get their collections ready to pass on to the next generation.

How Working with Seniors Is Unique

1. Seniors have a sense of urgency.

Many of us in the “senior” generation share a sense of urgency to preserve the stories and memories from our pasts, so they are available for our children, grandchildren and future generations. We tend to photograph things that capture a fleeting moment in time, such as a newborn baby’s foot, a rare gathering of friends, a milestone event, or a beautiful sunset.

2. Some seniors have difficulty adapting to change (especially changes in technology).

While they lead active, busy lives, seniors make a concerted effort to cherish and capture family moments. However, this population can struggle to keep up with technology changes.

My clients often say, “This is like having to learn a foreign language!” and they often find the changing scope of technology intimidating and overwhelming.

Change is more difficult for many of us to grasp, as our experiences have taught us that sometimes change isn’t always positive – yet we know we need to adapt to change while understanding the importance of cherishing each moment.

Middle-aged and young seniors (like me) are more apt to tackle changes in technology. We have a willingness (and the mental capacity) to stay current so we can stay in touch with our kids and manage our televisions, homes, and cars.

However, older seniors (in their 70s and 80s), are more apt to have older media such as prints, slides and home movie reels. These images and videos are precious to them, and they have a deep desire to pass along the stories and moments they represent, but they don’t know how to go about it. Younger seniors are likely to have these types of media, too – either from their own collections, or one they’ve inherited.

3. Seniors are often willing to ask for help in managing their photos collections.

I’ve found that most seniors are willing to learn the basics of taking photos and saving them.

However, spending time on more advanced skills required to capture the stories and preserve them is either beyond their capabilities (older seniors or those not technology-minded) or they just don’t want to handle those tasks themselves. Seniors want to know that their photos are safe, though, and they are often happy to invest in hiring a professional to make that happen.

That’s where I come in! My clients trust me to keep up with changes in technology, and they appreciate knowing that when necessary, I have additional resources and vendors available (through my involvement with the Association of Professional Photo Organizers).

When I work with seniors, their priorities include:

  • Making sure they don’t leave a mess for their children and grandchildren.
  • Needing to be sure that their photo collection is manageable and organized.
  • Properly caring for the originals of their images and videos (including prints, home movies, and slides).
  • Documenting the historical relevance of their stories. This includes things like what they (and their family members) were doing at pivotal points in history. For example, many of my clients have photos of family members who are veterans. War stories have a different meaning when you’re looking at photos of a soldier in uniform!
  • Documenting family history (i.e. family trees, timelines, etc) and preserving and sharing their family stories while they can still remember them.

How I Help Seniors Organize and Maintain Their Photos Collections

One of my jobs when I work with seniors is helping them understand the technology they’ll need to take and manage their photos.

I try to keep it simple, teaching them the basics and when things get more complicated, I often step in to manage those more complex pieces for them.

In my work as a photo organizer, I can teach seniors how to:

My senior clients need more than just technical tutoring from me, though. I provide a mixture of hand-holding and photo management for my clients. That means things like:

1. Giving guidance when they’re selecting photos to be archived, and offering ideas and solutions for showcasing their favorite photos and memorabilia.

2. Maintaining a family timeline of birth dates, events, and locations, which makes organizing their photos easier.

3. Organizing and digitizing their overall systems, regularly checking in to get new photos, and keeping their photos organized through albums, frames and collages. I keep a detailed system for knowing what’s been digitized and backed up, as my clients sometimes forget these details. They trust me to keep track of things, because I know their system well!

4. Coordinating prints and framing so my clients don’t have to worry about it. Uploading photos to a website to get prints or framing jobs can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if your eyesight is failing.

5. Copying images from a camera card to their computer or backup drive. Once I copy images over, I indicate that the photos have been backed up and store those prints in chronological order. If my clients don’t know how to change their camera clocks for a different time zone, I can help them or change the dates on the images once the photos have been taken.

6. Helping them pass along photos and mementos to their children. For some of my clients, we have photographed mementos from parents so that children can select the items they’d like to inherit.

We also make sure their children have copies of the images they’d like to keep. We can share childhood photos and family memories using the child’s own external hard drive.

We also decide what images need to be preserved and secured, but not necessarily shared with the kids. For example, any photos specific to the parent’s interests and community (separate from the family) aren’t typically important to the children, so we identify and store those images separately.

7. Supporting them through loss (like divorce, death, estranged relationships, or memory issues). When my clients are going through a loss, I can help them decide whether to keep and preserve photos that represent that loss, and who to share those photos with, if need be.

We have also provided extra identification of photos in albums, for an aging parent, so that if family members’ names are difficult to recall, the album is labelled as a subtle reminder.

We can even help with a memorial services when the client has lost a loved one. We can frame photos to showcase during the service, or create a memorial slideshow customized with favorite photos and songs.

Are You a Senior Who Needs Help with Photos (or Do You Someone Who Is)?

If you need help with your photos, we’d love to help! You can get in touch with us today for a free no-obligation consultation.

In our next post, I’m going to cover tips for millennials who want to understand the value of their photos and the importance of safely securing their collections (including photos they inherit from their folks!). Look for that post in a few weeks.

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

Photos tell the story of our lives….but how we can turn our images into a lasting photo legacy?

A “legacy” is a gift that is handed down from one generation to the next. For example, the president of a company might leave a legacy of integrity, honesty, and grit.

Instead of just handing down a random collection of unorganized photos to future generations in your family, wouldn’t it be great to add the details in your photos, so the stories aren’t forgotten or lost?

Creating a photo legacy involves taking some active steps to organize and manage your photos, so they are easily found and identified.

Without the stories and identifying details behind the photos, your images are at risk of becoming items from the past with no apparent meaning – merely a collection of items. If you think of your photos as part of your family legacy – with the stories, accomplishments, values and challenges they represent – then they become part of a legacy that future generations will cherish.

In this post, we’ll identify the things that could stop you from creating a photo legacy, how to get past those potential roadblocks, and how to take the steps to ensure the stories in your photos are preserved for future generations.

Roadblocks That Prevent You From Creating a Photo Legacy

Roadblock #1: You can’t remember the people who are featured in your photos.

It can be frustrating when you’re looking at older photos that aren’t labeled, and you can’t identify who’s in the images.

If you’re not sure whether your photos represent anything of value (because the stories and details aren’t included), you might not feel like your images are really a part of your family legacy.  

The good news is that there are clues in old photos that help you narrow things down. Check out this post for some excellent tips on identifying people in your older photos.

Family resemblances can also give you clues about the people in your photos. For example, does your grandfather look very similar to your brother? If so, that resemblance can help you sort out the “Who’s Who” in your images.

Roadblock #2: We don’t know how to make our photo collection into a photo legacy.

You might feel like you’re not sure how to create a photo legacy…but the good news is that it isn’t that difficult. You just need to know what steps to take!

Here are some tips for making your photos part of a legacy collection that people can enjoy for generations.

How to Create a Photo Legacy

1. Make sure your photos are preserved and stored properly.

As a photo organizer, I’m a stickler for making sure you preserve your photos, so they’ll last a long time.

When possible, always preserve your original prints. They are a historical example of something members of future generations don’t get to see or touch very often – and that makes them important!

If you don’t want to keep your old heritage photos, sometimes museums or historical societies will accept donations of items like this. I get really sad when I think about prints (especially old heritage ones) being thrown away!

Designate a family historian to be in charge of the photo collection, and let your family know who that person is! This may seem obvious, but you need to tell people who has the photos and where the images are being stored (physically and digitally).

You can make your digital files a part of your estate, and share login details so they don’t get lost – just make sure you keep these details updated if you change login and password details.

If you are using a library system or a shared site, you also need to make sure someone is maintaining that system. The family historian or the person responsible for the estate needs to keep things current, and be aware if a site has become obsolete.

Wouldn’t it be awful if you thought you had your photos safely stored online, only to find out the company or site has gone out of business – and your photos were gone? That’s why I recommend keeping it simple, and storing photos on a device that’s easily accessible.

2. Be mindful of technology changes.

Digital file formats can change, and I recommend keeping your file formats current. For examples, your home movie reels and tapes should be converted to digital files.

I recommend making that files formats are current as formats changes, and ensuring that your files can be read by current equipment and software.

I just read a recent article on the possibility of Apple making some changes to their file formats. It is always important to be aware of changes like these, to keep your collection current with trends – otherwise you may end up with file formats that your devices can’t read or play!

If this sounds daunting, we can help – managing file formats is something we do for our full-service clients.

3. Share the stories.

Try to keep photos of a series together, including photos from the same event or day. As the stories unfold, these images will tell the story of what was happening at that moment.

When you’re taking photos, use your camera to take pictures of moments that tell stories.

You can also create a family timeline to document events, dates, etc., so you can use it to identify and label your pictures. A family timeline will make the job of the family historian a lot easier!

For more ideas to on getting stories out of your family, check out these tips from one of our recent posts.

You can also use photos to help you document the meaning behind sentimental items. Photographing these things can help you let go of these items, or just document their meaning – which is especially important if you plan to bequeath them to a family member.

My mother used images to document the meaning behind some of the heirlooms that were passed down to her from her mother and grandmothers. It’s so much more meaningful to know the stories behind some of these artifacts, versus just seeing a pretty bowl or serving platter.

4. Use metadata to save the “who, what, where and when” of your photos.

Metadata” is information that goes along with a photo file, like what camera was used the take the picture, when the photo was taken, etc.. Photo metadata allows information to be transported along with an image file, in a way that can be understood by other hardware, software, or end users.

Storing information with an image’s metadata is a great way to make sure information about the photo doesn’t get lost – but there are a few things you need to be aware of when you’re editing photo metadata.

The best way to edit the metadata of a photo is to save the metadata directly to the image – which you can do with Photo Mechanic or Adobe’s Lightroom. It’s critical that you edit metadata and save it directly to the file, so that information will always travel with the image, if you’re exporting the photo or moving it around from place to place on your computer or tablet.

If you’re using a library application or software (like Google Photos, or Apple’s built-in “Photos” program), you can add metadata like keywords, etc. – but that information is saved in an external file that will be stripped out if you move or export the image.

Folks can unknowingly strip metadata out of their photo files by exporting them from certain programs, so the technical information (date taken, camera settings, camera type) gets lost. That can mean a lot of work down the drain!

If you want to add keywords or tags to your images, the ONLY way to preserve those changes is to save them to the file using a program like Photo Mechanic or Lightroom.

If you use a library application, that also means you’ll only be able to find your images when you’re in that particular app or program, which doesn’t allow you any flexibility for working with your photos. If you save your metadata directly to the file, you will always be able to locate your photos, without being dependent upon a specialized photo app or program.

Adding metadata to images is a service we provide to our clients, because most people don’t want to manage this themselves – but they like that we handle this, so the details of a photo are saved and made available for future generations.

5. Make sure the file details are universal and logical (to anyone).

The simpler your system is, the easier it will be for people to find things – so it’s a good idea to make sure your organizational system can be understood by anyone who might be looking for your photos at a later date.

If you plan to keep things simple and organize your photos in folders with filenames that include the details of the event, etc., make sure the naming is easy to understand and follow. For example, using acronyms or nicknames may not be universally known to future generations. Here’s a great article written by colleague on the best ways to file photos based upon the theme or event.

However, with artificial intelligence, files can now be searchable based upon certain keywords for details such as location, people, and events. This is where the accuracy of the photo file’s metadata comes into play (see above).

I’ve realized this is a more common method for younger generations, or for tech savvy folks who like this system – but you’re likely to pass along your photos to younger generations, so this IS important to keep in mind!

Photo keywords tie events together, but you need to be consistent so that when you search, you find all the files that fit that search criteria. Check out this article for types on best keywording practices.

If you want some recommendations on best practices for naming photos, so the information is searchable, here are a few articles to help you out:

How Having a Photo Legacy Helped Me Celebrate a Wonderful Moment with My Daughter

I’ll share a recent experience that emphasizes the benefits of having photos ready to be part of your family’s legacy.

Our daughter Molly and her husband Michael are currently in Thailand enjoying their honeymoon. Just this week, they had the opportunity to interact directly with elephants while they were on their trip.

Molly was really looking forward to this experience – and it didn’t disappoint!

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

After seeing this photo shared by her hubby, I realized that this actually wasn’t the first time Molly had been that close to an elephant! I remembered another photo, taken back when Molly was really little, back in 1993:

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

Because my photo collection is organized, I was able to find that older image and text it back to Molly and Michael within a few minutes. Imagine what it would’ve been like it I didn’t have my digital photos organized, or if I just had a stack of prints hidden in the back of one of my closets! It was such fun to be able to find this image so quickly, and be able to share it with them.

In my next post, I’m going to share all the insider secrets of how I got control of my own photo collection. I’m going to tell you exactly how I was able to find this photo so easily – so make sure to keep your eye out for that post in just a few weeks!