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…)

The 4-Step Process for Creating a Beautiful Travel Album

The 4-Step Process for Creating a Beautiful Travel Album

St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Travel makes our lives better. When we see and experience other cultures and get to know people in other places, it deepens our worldview, teaches us flexibility, shows us the beauty of other cultures, and lets us rest and recharge.

Sharing our travel experiences through a photo album helps keep our memories vivid, provides a record of the people and places we’ve seen, documents the experiences we’ve had, and provides a legacy of stories to pass on to our family members.

The problem is that when we come back from our trips, our photos often get digitally buried with the rest of our day-to-day images. You may not know how to translate the images you’ve taken on your trip into an attractive album that documents your experience.

If you need some guidance on how create your own travel album, we’re here to help! This post will give you advice on how to take helpful notes during your trip, show you how to get organized before you create your album, and give you the technical tools and advice you’ll need to create your album.

Let’s dig in!  (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 to Document Your Family Reunion This Summer

How to Document Your Family Reunion This Summer

Family reunions are one of the few times you can get your family members all in one place at one time – and that means it’s the perfect time to do some storytelling, and document those stories!

Since we talked about family reunion planning in our last post, I wanted to give you some tips on documenting your family reunions this summer, and that means taking photos, recording stories via audio, and creating videos.

All three can be quick and easy to do, and you’ll be so glad you took the time to document your family stories. You never know when you’ll get another chance!

Here are some tips for documenting your family reunions:

1. Get your family to help you think about the stories in advance.

Sometimes it’s hard for your relatives to come up with stories on the spot, especially if you’ve just stuck a microphone in their faces.

Do a little advance planning, and ask your family members (or all generations) to jot down the topics of their favorite stories, or send them to you via email or text. Include your own favorite stories, too!

If you want some ideas, I’d suggest a book called “To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come” by Bob Greene and D.G. Fulford. It’s a great book about putting together a personal history for your family.

2. Take photos from your reunion.

When you’re taking photos, include as many people and moments as you can (both posed and candid). For more tips on taking great storytelling photos, download our free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with Your Family Photos.

How to Document Your Family Reunion This Summer
We held a little family reunion after my daughter Molly’s wedding.

3. Record your relatives telling stories.

Once you’ve got a list of stories to include in your documentation process (see #1), you can ask someone in your family to tell a specific story, instead of just saying, “Tell me a story!” and putting that person on the spot.

Use the ideas from your list to get conversations started. You can also have folks bring photo albums, and document as folks reminisce over the photos. Family photo albums can be a great way to get memories (and good stories) flowing!

Here are a few ways to capture audio recordings as the storytelling happens:

  • For iPhones, you can use the Voice Memos application. Just make sure your phone is fully charged up before you go to the reunion!

You should already have Voice Memos on your phone, so you can simply open the app  and press record. When you’re finished, just tap “Save”. You can give your recording a name, and it will be saved within the app. Here’s a handy article on how to use the Voice Memos app to record stories. The Voice Memos application is exclusive to the iPhone right now, but there is mostly likely a voice recording app you can get if you have an Android phone.

You can share and send these voice recordings directly from your phone, the same way you share photos. From the app, select the voice recording to share, then choose the method you’d like to use to share the recording (Message, Mail, Add to Notes, or a third party app).

The recording is a .M4a file, which is like a ringtone file, so you can also convert a voice recording to a ringtone or text tone – but that’s a whole different conversation! If you’d like to know how to do that, let me know in the comments, and we’ll try to address it in an upcoming blog post.

Whatever tool you decide to use for audio recording, make sure you test it in advance to make sure you understand how it works. You need to know how to start, stop, and save recordings easily. There’s nothing worse than missing great stories because you’re fiddling around with your technology!

4. Videotape the reunion, if you can.

It’s so nice to have motion and voices in your recording – so if you’ve got the technology and the skill to create a video of your reunion, go for it!

When you’re recording, be mindful of getting the best perspective. While it’s possible to create vertical videos (by holding your phone the long way), keep in mind that for playback, this doesn’t work with all devices. Computer and TV screens are designed for horizontal video viewing, so things will be easier and more pleasant to watch if you shoot things horizontally. Here’s an article that offers some perspective on the horizontal/vertical debate.

5. Upload your photos on sharing sites.

Want a simple way for relatives to view (or give input on) your reunion photos? You can create a shareable album, so all your family members can enjoy your event images. Check out our previous posts for more information on creating easily shareable albums.

For slideshows or videos, you can upload them to Vimeo and share them with everyone in the family.

Reunions Are Great Storytelling Opportunities

Remember: Your family reunions are wonderful opportunities to sit down with your relatives and share family stories – so why not document that process?

Today’s modern tools make it relatively easy to document your reunions, so you should definitely take a few extra minutes to create some priceless photos and recordings from the event.

You’ll be so glad you did!

How to Share Group Vacation Photos and Create a Keepsake Trip Album

How to Share Group Vacation Photos and Create a Keepsake Trip Album

Yay! You’ve decided to go on a group vacation! I’m excited for you….you’re going to have a great time, especially because you’ve done your homework, and you’re well prepared for the trip.

You can make your travel experience even better by documenting your group’s adventures with your photos, and setting up an easy way for group members to share photos once the trip is over.

In this post, I’d like to give you some tips on how to take great storytelling photos, share your pictures with one another, and create a memorable photo album that all the group members can enjoy.

How to Document the Experience on Your Group Trip

It’s a good idea to decide in advance whether you’d like to create a photo album about your trip, because that decision may influence the kinds of photos you take on during your travels.

If you’ll be leading this effort, talk to your group members in advance, and let them know you’ll be creating a group album, and that you’ll create a place online where people can share their photos for the album.

Then, when you’re taking photos during the trip, you’ll want to document:

  • Who you’re traveling with.
  • The stops you make.
  • When you get to your destination.
  • All the stories and memories along the way.

Memorabilia can be helpful to keep track of some of the details on your travels, so hang onto your airline tickets, maps, pamphlets, restaurant menus, and your itinerary (which will likely included with the group planning of the trip).

Use your camera to help you document everything you experience. Take photos of things like the people you meet, the food you eat, and the signs you see. In a previous blog post, we’ve offered some tips for documenting stories from a trip. You can also check out our previous post on keeping your photos organized (and backed up) while you’re traveling.

If you are changing time zones during your trip, make sure your camera clock is set for the correct time – and tell your fellow group members to do the same. This is particularly important when you’re sharing photos with one another and creating an album. If someone’s camera clock is set wrong, it will be tricky to place that person’s photos in the correct sequence when you’re compiling images.

Most Android and Mac smartphones have location settings that will automatically adjust when you switch time zones. If you’re using an SLR camera, check to see if it has a location setting that will automatically adjust – if not, you will need to remember to manually update the clock.

We do have clients who don’t bother to change their camera clocks when they travel. When we have that client’s itinerary while we’re organizing their photos and creating albums, we can adjust the dates and times to match their locations during the trip. That’s a service people really appreciate – but you don’t want to get stuck adjusting time settings for the other group members. A quick “Set your clocks!” reminder to people when you arrive in your new time zone should eliminate the problem.

How to Share Photos from Your Group Trip

You can set up a sharing site that folks can use to upload their photos while they’re still on vacation, or after they return.

It’s easy to set up, and your group members will love you for this!

In a previous post, I recommended some options for good photo sharing services, and you can use any of the sites I mentioned in that post. Dropbox is a my favorite service for a project like this – it’s easy to set up the folder system that I’ll be talking about next.

You probably don’t want the members of your group to upload every single photo they take on the trip, so it’s a good idea to suggest people review their photos and only upload their favorites.

It’s also best to share a paid account for the sharing service you choose, because the free services will probably compress the photos when you upload them, making them lower quality. Poor quality photos won’t work, because you’ll need full size, printable versions of the photos in your album.

I’ve done photo sharing during several group trips. Here are my top four tips for setting up your sharing system and getting great quality photos to share:

1. Set up a group shared project folder, and title that folder using the year, month, and trip location (i.e. “2017-07-China”). Then create subfolders with people’s names, so each person can upload images to his or her individual folder.

For example, you can title the folder “Smith-John.” Using this naming convention and organizational system will be easier to manage than having a huge group of everyone’s photos all in one folder. It will also make it more manageable to work in portions (by day or event), rather than all at once.

When we took a trip to France a few years ago, we traveled with a group of 20 people – which meant that people contributed photos from 20 different cameras!

2. As I mentioned earlier, have them upload just their favorites. When you have people self-select the best photos to upload, it helps pare down the quantity of photos you have to review for your album. For our trip to France, I had to sift through over 7000 photos, because I didn’t use individual folders and didn’t ask people to limit the photos they uploaded!

3. If you’re creating the album, download the shared photos to your computer. This gives a clean copy of the images to work from while you’re picking images for the album.

4. As you’re downloading the folders, rename the photos and add the name of the person who took them (for example, “2017-07-01-China-Smith-John-Canon”). By having the date taken to the photos, the images will fall in order – which will help when you’re creating your album. This is also helpful for tracking the sources of the images, which means it will be easier to deal with problems if they crop up.

My Recommendations for Creating a Group Album

Once you start creating the group album, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve been so meticulous and organized!

You’ll have only the very best photos of the trip, which will make it much easier to select the images you want to use. You’ll also have a simple way to refer back to the who, what, where, and when of your trip, which will be useful for storytelling.

Follow these steps to create your album:

Step 1: Create subfolders for each day of the trip. In most cases, people want the album to be in chronological order, so it’s a good idea to create subfolders by day – especially if you did a multi-day trip. Then you can look at all the photos for a particular day, and pick the best ones from that day for your album.

Step 2: Review the photos people have shared, and select the best ones. Keep in mind that each person on the trip will want to be represented, so you’ll need to make sure you have photos of each person. Some folks in the group will take fantastic photos, but not every person is a great photographer – so you may want to let people know in advance that you will get to choose which photos are used!

Step 3: Edit any images that need to be adjusted. You may need to flip or rotate some of the images, so now’s the time to do that. I actually have one travel buddy who managed to take all her photos upside down! You can also color correct your images through the “Photos” features on your computer.

Step 4: Copy the best images (post-edits) into a project folder. Keeping the final, edited versions of the images in separate folder – instead of saving over the originals – will be handy if you need to revert back to the originals.

Step 5: Create the album by page or spread, keeping events and/or locations together. Now you get to create your album pages!

When we design an album here at Picture This Organized, we typically leave space for text (for captions and stories), then add captions and stories after we know which pictures will be used. You can also wait to design the album until you have all the text.

You can utilize your photo sharing site (where people uploaded their photos) to clarify locations or get stories from the group members. Most photo sharing sites have comment fields, and you can copy and paste comment text directly into the album layout pages.

Unsure of the location of a particular photo? That’s okay! If you stopped at locations that had similar features (like cathedrals, ruins, etc.), you can refer back to your itinerary and use the Internet to search for locations and verify photos. We often use this trick when we’re working on client projects.

How to Share Group Vacation Photos and Create a Keepsake Trip Album

Step 6: Get your album printed. When you have finished choosing your photos and adding text, you’ll need a good company for album design and publishing. I recommend Mpix – you can share the login details your group members, so people can see your progress and help with the final proofing of your album.

Once your album is completed, you can have each person order their own copy, or you can collect money and handle the ordering for them.

Sharing the Highlights of Your Group Trip

Group trips are often terrific experiences, and when you take the lead on helping people capture and share their best photos, you’ll get the group to document all of their very best memories.

And once you’ve used these tips to design and print a beautiful photo album about your big adventure, all of you will have a wonderful keepsake that will remind you of the wonderful trip you all took together.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album (and How Long Does That Process Take)?

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album (and How Long Does That Process Take)?

During the photo organization process, many of our clients ask us to create special albums of their precious memories. I love creating custom albums for my clients, and it’s one of my favorite parts of being a professional photo organizer.

When you create a photo albums, you get the opportunity to share photos in an accessible way, and showcase the stories those photos tell. Albums can be a personal way to honor a life or a milestone, reminisce about a memory, share mementoes (such as recipes or artwork) or favorite interests (like fishing, painting, photography, or nature).

It’s fun to laugh with my clients as they share funny personal stories or travel adventures (and misadventures!). The best part of creating these special keepsakes for my clients is seeing the joy on their faces as they pour over their published albums.

In one of our previous posts, we talked about how photo organizers typically work, and how much time you should allow for certain projects. Some of my clients asked why it takes so long to create a photo album – so I wanted to explain a little more about what the process looks like, what it typically costs, and why it’s important to plan ahead if you’d like to create an album to give as a gift for a special event (like a wedding, graduation, anniversary, or birthday).

Curious about how the album creation process works? Let’s dig in!

What Our Customized Photo Albums Look Like

First, let’s set the stage: What kind of albums do we create for our photo organizing clients?

These albums are personalized keepsakes that are often displayed prominently in the client’s home, and we customized each album based on the needs of that particular client. We don’t use templates, and these aren’t cookie-cutter projects for us. The album style, color, and quality are all carefully chosen to coordinate with the decor in the client’s home.

Our albums are luxury books that are published with premium vendors. They are published on high-quality paper, and include sturdy covers that can won’t get torn or destroyed when lots of people handle them. The albums lay flat when you open them, so you can view all the photos easily and comfortably.

What does it take to put one of these premium, personalized albums together for a client? First, we start with our prep work.

Our 5 Key Prep Steps for Creating a Client’s Photo Album

When we kick off a new album project, we always start with doing a some crucial prep work. These are the steps we need to take before we begin design the album:

1. Organize the photos.

Sometimes a client knows they want our help creating a special album, but their photos aren’t organized, or they’ve got digital photos spread haphazardly across multiple devices.

If this is the case, the first thing we need to do is organize the client’s photos, so we can choose the best images for the project.

We’ll search through the client’s photos to find the ones that fit the theme of the album, then resume organizing the rest of the collection after we’ve completed their album project.

2. Choose the theme of the album.

If you’ve never created an album before, it can help to have visual examples of what’s possible. We can show you samples of albums on each of these themes:

  • Year in Review
  • Life Story
  • Travel
  • Milestone Moment (i.e. Birthday, Anniversary, Graduation, Wedding)
  • Showcase Mementoes (ie. Artwork, Recipes, Memorabilia)

We’ll work together to choose the overall theme for your project.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

3. Select the photos.

Once we’ve got your theme nailed down, we’ll select the photos for the album.

We are always careful to pick photos that are the best quality (meaning they are clear images, and the key elements of the photo are easily identifiable).

We’re also looking for photos that tell a story. We want to share the location, the details of the experience, and the main people and places behind the image. Sharing the moment as clearly as possible is always our main goal.

Ideally, we’ll select digital photos that are ready to be used right away. If you want to use print photos in your album, they will need to be digitized first. We can do that for you, if you need help with that step. As part of our premium scanning services, photos are named by the date and event.

Sometimes the color or lighting of a particular photo isn’t optimal, so a little editing might be needed. This is done post-digitizing, and part of our pre-album design services.

4. Plan out the album text.

We can use strategic sections of text in your album to:

  • Explain the relationship between photos.
  • Remind the reader of details (like people, places, or things) with a label or caption.
  • Tell stories. Journals can be very helpful in telling stories, and we have clients who jot down funny stories, favorite foods, and people they meet in a travel journal when they’re on the road. These stories are incorporated throughout the travel album, giving the client a chance to revisit precious memories. Those stories are also preserved for future generations to enjoy.
  • Share funny quotes or stories from the people who are part of the album’s story. When we created my father’s 80th birthday album, we asked his friends and family to share funny stories and photos of him. That text became a really important (and treasured) part of the album.

5. Choose the size of the album, and the publisher we’ll use to create the final product.

Our albums are designed according to who will be publishing it, so we need to choose that vendor in advance, so we can plan accordingly.

We also need to decide on the final size of the album, so we’ll know how large each page will be. We typically design 12×12, 10×10 or 11×8 albums for our clients.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How We Design Our Photo Albums

Once the prep work is completed, we’re ready to design the album pages.

Our albums are designed with a clean, classic, timeless look, and the photos are the primary focus of each album spread.

We don’t use embellishments or patterned backgrounds, like you would on scrapbook pages, as we feel that these are distracting and can make the album look dated. We want our clients to be able to enjoy their albums for years to come, without the albums looking old-fashioned after five, ten, or even twenty years have passed.

Because we’re all about creating albums that last, we use carefully selected premium publishers that create high quality products. We make sure that we create albums that stand the test of time, and we want our clients to feel proud to showcase their albums in their homes.

Initially, we work side-by-side with the client to select the best photos for the album. We’ll make note of any details about the theme, stories, location, or stories, so we can group photos together and create appropriate captions and text in the right places.

At this stage, we’ll also discuss design preferences like fonts, background colors, and so forth, so those details can all be incorporated into the design.

When we’ve got all the photos selected, we proceed with designing and planning the layout of each page of the album.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

Publication Process – and Why We Need a Lot of Lead Time

Once we’re done designing, we’ll upload it to an album proofing site, so the client can review the entire project (on their own, or in-person, with me).

The client reviews the photos and text to check for accuracy, and provides input on any changes that need to be made. Since we’re always careful and accurate during the early planning and designing stages, there are typically few revisions at this point.

When the album is approved, we upload the final project to the album publisher, and place the order. Album publishing is a separate fee, and the cost varies depending upon the size of the album and the number of photo spreads.

Most album publishers have a 10-spread minimum and a 50-spread maximum. For larger travel experiences (for example, a 4-week trip to several countries), we can split an album project into multiple volumes. We can also order more than one copy of the album if you need extra copies.

Turnaround time varies by the publisher: Final publication and delivery can take one to two weeks, depending upon the publisher and time of year. The busiest season is during the winter holidays.

We typically design and submit albums for publishing BEFORE late November, or AFTER January 1st. Experience has taught us that placing orders for holiday gifts in December can be risky, and we can’t guarantee that you will receive your album in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

Occasionally a publisher will have some production issues, so we always allow extra time in case an order needs to be redone.

Publication schedules are one of many reasons that I advise my clients to give me plenty of notice for album projects.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How Much Time Does the Entire Album Creation Process Take?

By now you might be wondering: How long does creating an entire album usually take?

The answer is – it depends. How long your project will take depends on whether your photos need to be organized first, how many photos you have, and whether we’ll need to digitize or edit your photos before we can use them in your album.

Here are some approximate timelines for each stage. These as minimums, and these times can vary widely depending on your individual situation. I’ve estimated most of these tasks in “half days”, which is the typical unit of time I charge my clients for:

  • Selecting photos – 1 to 2 half days
  • Digitizing – 1 to 3 half days
  • Album Design – 4 to 8 half days
  • Album publishing – 1 to 2 weeks (depending on the publisher)

Talk to Us About Your Personalized Photo Album Project

We’d love to create a beautiful, keepsake photo album for your special event or travel experience! When you create a customized photo album, you’ll have a special keepsake that you can display on your home, share with your friends and family members, and appreciate for many years.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your project.  

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photo Organizer?

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photo Organizer?

Hiring a photo organizer is like enlisting a professional trainer to help get you in shape – it’s a process that happens over time. You wouldn’t hire a trainer for one ten-minute weight-training session – and you don’t hire a photo organizer for one 15-minute block of time, either.

Hiring a photo organizer is a way to find a healthier approach to managing your photos. It will take time and effort to reach your goals, and you’ll want to hire the best possible people to help you along the way.

A lot of people want to know, “How much does it cost to hire a photo organizer?” and the answer to that question is always, “It depends.”

Let’s take a look at why photo organizing fees vary from client to client, what you should consider when you’re trying to decide if you should hire a photo organizer, and how we (at Picture This Organized) typically charge for our services.