The Story Behind a Set of Keepsake Photo Albums

The Story Behind a Set of Keepsake Albums

A destination wedding was inevitable for the Marr family. Daniel Marr met his bride, Sara, soon after he moved to Sweden to attend graduate school. The two fell in love, got engaged, and set their wedding date for August 2019 on the Island of Gotland, southeast of Stockholm.

The downside of a destination wedding? It can be difficult for everyone to make the trip. But to the delight of the groom’s parents, Dave and Lis Marr, a large group of their family and friends from the United States (including me and my husband Tom), traveled to Lis’s native country of Sweden to join in the festivities.

And we brought our cameras!

This is the story of how we helped Lis gather photos from family and friends to create some beautiful keepsake albums. (more…)

How to Edit Your Summer Photos With Lightroom

How to Edit Your Summer Photos With Lightroom

Are your summer vacation and family gathering photos stacking up on your camera card or phone? 

You may be taking a lot of photos with the intention of posting some on social media, or creating an album. But you may find that some of your pictures need tweaking and a little bit of organization.

Lightroom is a photo editing and organization tool we use everyday at Picture This Organized. Professional photographers use it, but so can you! 

In this post, we explain Lightroom, give you some tips to use it, and give some examples that illustrate how you can make your summer photos shine. (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…)

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 to Actually Enjoy Your Group Vacation

How to Actually Enjoy Your Group Vacation

Taking group vacations is one of my favorite ways to travel, and I’ve had some amazing experiences with group travel over the years. I’m actually more of a homebody, but my friends have helped me to step out of my grid!

Several years ago, I participated on a choir trip to the Czech Republic and Israel. There were about a hundred of us on the trip, which included singers, leaders, and the band. It was a multi-generational group, ranging in age from 14 to 80 years old, so getting everyone onto planes and loading luggage, equipment, and bags onto busses was a complicated logistical experience!

By the end of that choir trip, we had all become like a big family. We supported each other through fatigue and illness, shared cell phones to call home, interpreted in conversations with the locals, and helped each other figure out how to pay for things in foreign currency.

On the other hand, I once went on a trip that went horribly wrong…but it was still a bonding experience for all of us. On a group trip with some friends, we were going to travel on their yacht for ten days of good food, wine, snorkeling and sunshine. Instead, about 5 days into the trip, everyone came down with the flu! We all suffered together, sharing updates on our symptoms.

Because I’ve done a number of these group trips, I’ve got some good tips for how to actually enjoy traveling with your friends and family members. But before we dig into those tips, let’s talk about the pros and cons of traveling with a group. After all, group trips aren’t for everyone, and you’ll want to figure out if they’re a good fit for you.

The Pros of Group Vacations

Here are some of the biggest advantages of vacationing with a group:

1. Often, the itinerary is planned for you. If you’ve been invited to travel with someone else, it’s likely that most (or all) of the itinerary for that vacation will be planned for you. That can be a big plus if you hate vacation planning and don’t care for doing research about your destination.

2. You may be challenged to try new experiences. Because someone else is planning the itinerary, you probably need to be open to trying new things on a group trip – including participating in new activities or experiencing new culinary adventures.

3. You can create amazing memories with people you know. You’ll have wonderful stories and shared experiences with the friends and family members you know before you go on the trip – and you’ll also bring home some incredible photos!

4. A group trip is a great bonding experience, so you can expect to meet new people along the way – and those folks will often feel like close friends by the end of the trip.

5. When someone else plans your trip and leads you through new experiences, you can see the world through that person’s eyes. You can learn a lot about other cultures and countries by going with the flow on group trips.

6. It’s easier to accept help from people you know. Ever notice that it’s easier to call a friend and ask for directions than it is to stop strangers and ask them? When you’re lost, confused about currency, or baffled by local customs, it’s far easier to turn to someone you know and ask for guidance.

7. Group vacations can be cheaper. You can often get discounts when you travel with a big group, so that can help when you’re on a budget.

8. Guided tours are often included in group trips, which can be a big plus if you’re worried about speaking a foreign language, navigating through a new city, or driving on the wrong side of the road!

The Cons of Group Vacations

1. As I mentioned above, you’ll probably meet new people on a group vacation – and that can be rough or meeting new folks isn’t really your thing. When you meet new people, you’ll probably find yourself making a lot of small talk on your vacation. If you’re really introverted, small talk can feel exhausting and crowds may feel overwhelming.

2. You may be limited in your travel choices. There are certain places where a large group is going to have trouble traveling, so you may need to compromise on your vacation choices in some cases. It easy to navigate a new city with 4 to 6 people, but there if you’ve got a group that can’t all fit into one car, you’ll need to coordinate carefully.

3. When you travel with a group, there will likely be times when you lose your authority over your decisions – like when you’d like to wander freely in a new city, but the tour guide tells you that you need to stay with the group. If you always want control of your time, group travel may not be for you.

Other Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going on a Group Vacation

Factors like the length of the trip, how familiar you are with the people in your group, and your level of travel experience can all affect how much you enjoy yourself on your group trip – so it’s important that you ask yourself some critical questions as you’re planning your vacation.

Ask yourself:

How often do you travel?

Having experience with traveling on your own is helpful if you’re going to travel with a group. Traveling puts you out of your comfort zone, and adding more people to the mix can complicate things in some ways (but make them easier in others).

Along the same lines: Consider whether your destination a new place for you, or if you are returning to somewhere familiar.

How well do you know the people you’ll be traveling with?

Have you travelled together before? Have you spent much time together? Spending time together for shorter periods of time (like for dinner, or doing activities together) is different than waking up with people every morning for a week.

On a group trip, you’re likely to see some annoying habits –  especially if you share bedrooms and bathrooms – and people can sometimes get under your skin. It helps if you know what you’re in for in advance.

Do you have similar interests to the people you’re traveling with?

If everyone on the trip has completely different tastes and preferences, you’ll be more likely to have conflict on your trip when you’re trying to make decisions.

My husband and I went on a 10-day sailing trip around the British Virgin Islands a few years ago. We were traveling with five other couples, and we were sailing with a crew who managed the boat and cooked and served all the food.

The majority of our time was spent on the boat, and we only made a few stops every couple of days. Most the people on the trip were happy with that, but a few people felt a bit confined.

We were given the details of our itinerary in advance, so we should have known what to expect. Those of us who felt some cabin fever came to the realization that we do better if we got to disembark more often. But since many of us had never experienced a vacation like this, it was a learning experience – and we learned to speak up when it was possible to make an unplanned trip ashore.

Would you mind being on a sailboat for seven days, or would you prefer to disembark more often?

What’s the situation going to be with food?

Will food be provided on the group trip, or are you sharing the cooking? If you’re sharing the culinary duties, do you like to cook for large groups – or do you prefer to eat out and try new types of food when you’re traveling?

If you have dietary restrictions, you’ll also need to plan for that in advance. I’m gluten intolerant, so I need to be careful and always understand exactly what I’m eating. I’ve discovered that whoever is preparing the food for the group appreciates knowing about any dietary restrictions ahead of time. For the most part, most people are willing to accommodate most dietary needs if given some advance notice.

How long will you be gone (or more importantly, how long do you like to be away from home)?

Do you like to be away for extended periods of time, or do you prefer short trips, like a long weekend or an overnight excursion?

What’s your preference for accommodations?

Do you like camping, or would you rather stay in a 5-star hotel? If you’re not really an “outdoor person,” camping for a week with your friends might be kind of miserable. Ask yourself what types of accommodations you prefer, and take that into account when you’re planning your trip.

I’ve found that sometimes it’s possible to make adjustments. For our annual Great Sand Dunes family camping trip, some people camped in tents. Since I’m not much of a camper, we rented a pop-up camper that provided shelter from the elements. This proved handy when there was a rainstorm – our 3 children were thankful they could retreat to our camper!

Does everyone in the group have the same budget?

Figure out in advance if you’re on the same page, as far as your budget expectations are concerned. If the people in your group have budgets that are vastly different, are there options for those who are more frugal to opt for a different experience than those who are want to spend more?

Will you be traveling to a foreign country? If so, does someone in your group speak the language?

Will you need an interpreter? If so, who will be in charge of acquiring those services? It’s helpful for everyone in the group to understand the plan for handling language issues, when these situations arise.

My family went on a trip to Europe, and we spend part of the trip in Germany, visiting Tom’s family. The vacation was amazing, and we had a great time seeing Hamburg through the eyes of locals.

The trickiest part of the trip was when we all went on a tour with a guide who spoke German the entire time. Tom speaks German, but it was really tough for him to be our interpreter (it’s a lot harder than it looks!) The kids and I nodded off several times because we were so jet lagged.

I felt awful about it, and we didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but hearing the German speaking tour guide lulled us to sleep. In hindsight, it would have been helpful to have an English version of his talk, so that we could follow along.

My Top Tips for Planning and Enjoying Your Group Vacation

1. Plan ahead. The more people you’re coordinating, the more schedules you have to juggle. If you plan your trip a year or more in advance, the members of your group can plan accordingly and block off the time on their calendars.

2. State your needs. I don’t like to plan vacations, so I’m happy to have someone else handle the details – but I do have opinions about how busy each day is. I don’t like to have every single minute of every day scheduled for me. Consider your individual preferences in advance, and make sure to communicate with your group leader about your biggest needs and concerns.

3. Decide who’s in charge. It’s easier to have one or two people be the “go to” authorities for questions and decision-making. Making decisions by committee can be tricky, and conflicts can detract from your vacation experience. If the itinerary is planned ahead of time, it’s also easier for the leaders to keep track of confirmation numbers, reservations, travel plans, etc..

Even if the person in charge makes a bad decision, at least you’re all in it together. It’s much easier to change course together when everyone is on the same train!

4. Whenever possible, have separate sleeping quarters per person/couple. It’s good to have a bit of distance from each other, and getting a good night’s sleep makes little annoyances easier to deal with. No one wants to deal with someone snoring in group sleeping quarters, and keeping everyone awake every night – and no one wants to be THAT person, either!

5. Go into the trip with patience and a sense of humor. Things will go wrong on your group vacation, and recognizing that fact can help you cope. Keep in mind that sometimes those spontaneous, unplanned experiences are more enriching and fulfilling than the planned ones.

The Magic of Traveling as a Group

I know some of my all-time favorite travel memories have happened while I’m on group trips. It’s a fantastic way to travel, as long as you plan ahead and speak up about your own needs.

Now I’d love to hear from you – do you have any fun group trip experiences (or any group travel nightmare stories)? Share them in the comments below!

10 Things I Love About My Photo Organizing Clients

Last week I published a post on why I love my job as a photo organizer, and I promised you a second part to that post.

My wonderful clients are one of the biggest reasons I adore my job — so this week I wanted to dedicate an entire post to articulating all the reasons my clients are special to me..

Ready for some big-time gushing? Here we go!

1. My Clients Love to Travel.

One of the many reasons someone might hire a photo organizer is to help them manage and display the photos they take when they’re traveling. Because so many of my clients have been bitten by the travel bug, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the world through my clients’ photos.

Whether it’s a 3-week trip through Southeast Asia or a hike along the Appalachian Trail, I feel inspired by my clients’ love for learning about different cultures and meeting the locals. Their love of travel is a tribute to their willingness to see things from a worldly perspective, and I get to be a part of that through their wonderful photos.

2. They Are Adventurous.

Many of clients not only like to travel — they like to have BIG adventures while they’re doing it! I’ve organized pictures of bamboo raft rides in China, helicopter skiing in California, multiple cross-country moves, and exotic foods samplings.

Since I’m not an adventurous person by nature, this part of my job captivates my attention and fascinates me. I love seeing the amazing escapades of my adventurous clients as they show up in images — and the photos that are taken on adventures like this are often incredible!

3. My Clients Stay Connected.

I’ve seen photos of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of family gatherings – from everyday moments to holiday dinners. What sticks with me about the images of these gathering is that we seem to have a nearly universal desire to spend time together celebrating our relationships.

Some of my very favorite client projects are family Christmas albums. Many of these projects showcase photos that are over a period of many years, from early marriage to present day. One of my clients once told me that her children said the family Christmas album was the best gift they had ever received – and that kind of praise is music to my professional photo organizer ears!

That particular client had saved photos, Christmas cards, letters to Santa, and all kinds of keepsakes over many years of holiday celebrations with her family. She shared many favorite memories of various years, and her children just poured over those albums reminiscing over their shared stories about those holidays. She wanted to be sure that each child received their own copy of this family heirloom, so we worked together to create multiple copies of the album after it was complete.

I have tons of client stories like this, and they make my job really special. I love that my clients stay connected to their families, want to celebrate their gatherings (both large and small), and want to make keepsakes that their friends and family members will cherish forever.

4. They Care About Their Family Legacies.

My clients also want to honor and celebrate their extended families, and their stories. For my clients, getting the details of their family stories right is really important, and that includes who belongs to what branch of the family, the resemblances between family members, and other details that could potentially get lost if no one is keeping track of them.

In each family, there’s typically one member who is the self-appointed “historian.” They are eager for everyone – siblings, aunts and uncles, parents, and children – to know the stories and relationships of the family, including what family members have in common, and how they differ.

They are willing to pour through photos, slides, and even memorabilia to carefully select what to keep, what to share with extended family, and how to honor the stories and legacies that these items represent. Sometimes they even photograph various items for extended family, so they can select which items they’d like to have.

5. My Clients Are Willing to See Themselves Authentically, and Recognize Their Limitations.

Every family has their own set of challenges, so I try to help them see the importance of using photos that highlight their lives – as they really are! In my free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with You Family Photos, I talk about how we can tell better, more memorable and more cohesive stories with our photos when don’t expect every shot we take and display to be “picture-perfect.” My clients embrace imperfection, and they are willing to see themselves and their families authentically – and I love their bravery and willingness to be authentic.  

The people I work with also understand how important it is that we are able to find our photos easily. When there’s a pause in the busyness of life and a precious moment is captured on a camera, it’s important to be able to find that photo later, so the moment isn’t forgotten.

Even in this do-it-yourself-crazy world, asking for help with your photo organizing (or anything else) doesn’t need to be a statement of failure! I’ve seen how liberated my clients feel about releasing the photo organizationing piece to me and allowing me to help them get things under control. They deserve recognition for remembering to take a photo and capture the moment – as a photo organizer, I’m just helping them create order so they can easily remember and honor that precious moment.

6. They Celebrate the Milestones in Their Lives.

My clients are incredibly proud of their children’s accomplishments and life celebrations, and they enjoy using photos as a means to show off their appreciation and happiness. I love creating projects that help parents celebrate the special moments in their kids’ lives.

One client’s wedding celebration was especially memorable for me. As a tribute to their son’s life, a client wanted an album that would convey their pride in his accomplishments and their joy about his approaching wedding. While they suspected this would be a hit with their son, an unexpected bonus was the thrill their son’s stepsons got over his old football photos! His stepsons hadn’t known about that piece of his past, and it was clearly an opportunity for this newly blended family to bond over some very special family photos.

7. They Honor as They Grieve.

Most of my clients are in the midst of enjoying the fruits of our labor as our children grow up, leave the nest and have families of their own – just like me! But sadly, we’re also in that place of saying goodbye to aged parents. As my clients grieve over the loss of a family member, it’s a honor when I’m asked to help a client pay tribute to her loved one’s life.

While I may know many personal details about my clients’ families, I can still help my clients shift to a more objective perspective at a time when making decisions is difficult. Sometimes the photos we find depict a particularly sensitive time, such as the last days of a loved one’s life. Recently I unknowingly found one such photo that a client thought had been lost. Understandably, it was a bittersweet discovery.

8. They Like to Reminisce.

My clients like to remember their stories and life experiences, and I appreciate that. According to writer Kristine Dwyer, a staff writer at, reminiscence is “a free-flowing process of thinking or talking about one’s experiences in order to reflect on and recapture significant events of a lifetime.”

“We all live in the present,” Dwyer says, “yet we still carry our ‘past’ selves with us throughout our lives. We are part of a rich history that needs to be shared and preserved. The stories we tell about our lives are also important sources of self-identity, and they enable us to explore and relate our past to the present.”

Images help us with that process of sharing and preserving our histories, so I feel a real sense of fulfillment when I help my clients organize and display their photos.

It’s really about reliving our past – whether it was a vacation we had, or a milestone reached by one of our family members. My clients want to think about (and talk about) all the sweet memories so those moments aren’t forgotten, and I feel honored that I am included in that process when we work together.

9. My Clients Appreciate Their Children’s Accomplishments, Interests, and Individuality.

When I work with my clients, I love that they want to recognize each family member’s personal accomplishments and aspirations.

This is especially important when managing photos for our children. As we document important dates, there is enormous value in tracking where each child went to school, the music programs they participating in, and the sports teams they were part of.

Creating albums that highlight each child’s interests and life stories is an important exercise in honoring each child’s individuality and interests.

As a mom, I know it is sometimes easier to take photos of my kids as a group, just to capture the moment, but I’ve learned that my client’s children appreciate having individualized albums that document their individual interests, friendships, and milestones.

My clients sometimes create individualized albums like this because they want to help their children adjust to a significant transition, like a big move. Even for teenagers, an opportunity to look back at one’s life can help make the transition to a new environment less difficult. Sometimes adjusting to where we’ve arrived requires looking back at where we came from.

Being part of a family of four girls and one of the middle children, I appreciate the need to feel recognized and valued – separate from my siblings. I enjoy being part of my client’s efforts to recognize and praise their children’s individual interests and accomplishments.

10. My Clients Become My Friends!

I know I’m doing something right when a client tells me, “I’m glad you’re in my life!” As we review my clients’ family photos, they often share personal information as well as milestones, accomplishments and disappointments, so I end up know a lot about the people I work with. It’s an honor and a privilege to hold onto (and honor) that information for my clients.

Since I work with many of my clients long-term, I am also delighted to say that many have them have become friends. My life is so much better with my wonderful clients in it!