Overcoming the Stress of Mess: A Busy Mom’s Journey to Photo Organization

Kelly Caffee wanted to find a photo of her son’s birthday party on her phone or computer – but years of accumulating photos with no organization turned a simple search into a huge frustration.

Kelly is a busy single mom who has a demanding job that requires a lot of travel. Her schedule didn’t contain any extra gaps for things like sorting and organizing her photos.

Many of our clients are just like Kelly. They are frustrated by constantly being short on time, and overwhelmed by the enormity of their photo collection.

Here’s the story of how Kelly left that stress behind her to find order and efficiency in her photo collection.

Stressed By the Mess

For most of us, photo organization is a project we know we need to start – but don’t know how or when.

Over time, Kelly’s photos weighed her down. “My photos were unusable, accumulating in this gigantic library on my computer. As the years went by, I was overwhelmed by the need to get them organized. I was stressed out by all of the clutter.”

Kelly thought there must be someone she could hire to help her pare down and organize her digital photo collection. She had the extra money, but no extra time.

When Kelly found our team, we visited her home and assessed her entire photo collection — including everything on her computer and phone.

At this point in the process, we also asked Kelly about the key people, milestones, and events in her life. We used this information to help organize her collection.

On “Cloud” Nine with Digital Organization

When we first started working with Kelly in her home, the slow speed of her aging computer aggravated her. One of the ways we can help our clients is to work remotely on our computers in our offices. This also minimizes that amount of time the client has to spend on organizing their photos (which is a big plus for many of the people we work with!)

To be able to work on Kelly’s photos remotely, we set up her iCloud account so her photos would sync across both her phone and computer. Once we verified that iCloud had all of the photos already on her computer, we set up access to her account (with her permission), to start organizing her photos from our office.

In the long run, iCloud also makes Kelly’s life easier. Any photos she takes on her phone, now automatically sync with her Photos library, so she doesn’t need to take the extra step of uploading images to her computer from her phone.

Our ultimate goal was to give Kelly easy access to all of her photos and Albums, whether she was at home, or on the go.

Stay tuned for our next post for more education about iCloud and how it works with photos!

The Importance of Trust

It takes a great deal of trust to give someone access to your photos – especially someone you don’t know very well.

By nature, photos reflect personal moments. Some photos are reminders of heartbreaking memories or lost relationships. Others take us back to less difficult, but still awkward times in our lives. As we get to know our clients, we pay attention to the topics that are sensitive or favorite, always conscious of vulnerable and delicate feelings.

When we initially combed through Kelly’s pictures alongside her, we were able to laugh together at some of her older ones. We all have them!

“I trusted Julie and her team with access to my photos,” says Kelly. “It was worth the embarrassment of them seeing some of my old pictures from my party days just to get them organized!”

After years of accumulating photos on numerous computers and personal devices, Kelly had lots of duplicates. We used a duplicate sweeper app to find and delete identical copies.

Kelly also alerted us to photos she no longer wanted. We manually removed those along with any “junk” photos (e.g. the poorly lit, or blurry images).

Read this post for more detail on how to eliminate duplicate photos from your collection.

Album Organization
Once we had pared down Kelly’s photo collection, the next step was to create an organized album structure that worked for her. Our suggestion was to organize albums by year, which worked well for Kelly.

Then we organized each year’s album by events (e.g. vacations, birthdays, etc). Now Kelly can easily find any photo in her collection, as long she knows the year.

We also worked with Kelly to set up business albums – one album for each of the two businesses she runs. This keeps her personal photos separated from her business photos, making it much easier to find the images she needs for work.

To help Kelly maintain her library moving forward, I gave her a copy of a helpful document called “Tips for Working with Apple Photos.”  Find more information on the Apple Photos app in two previous posts: The Basics and Working with Albums.

The Reassurance of Backup

Kelly could now breathe easier with her photos organized, but we also wanted to eliminate any concerns about the safety of her photos. We helped her protect her photos by putting a reliable backup system in place.

We also set her up with Time Machine as a secondary backup for her Mac. This automatically backs up her Photos Library by default.

It’s important to remember that iCloud is not a backup system. Copies of original photos are not stored in iCloud, rather, it’s the same library in another location. However, if Kelly lost her phone, or her aging computer suddenly died, she could re-sync to recover her photos from iCloud.

In this previous post, we give more detail backing up your photos.

A Productive Return on Kelly’s Investment

Our plan moving forward is to get Kelly set up with ongoing, yearly maintenance for her photo collection. When clients need help with this step, or any other photo project, we are happy to pass along our knowledge of the industry, new apps, and new technology.

We are also available to help clients when something goes wrong. Kelly recalls such a time: “I think I called Julie in a panic once because I thought I lost a bunch of photos. Of course, I had not lost anything. I just needed someone to walk me through how to find them.”

Kelly is happy and relieved that the investment of her time and money is producing a positive return. “Hiring a professional photo organizer was so worth it. I’m so much more productive and efficient with my photos now!”

If your story is similar to Kelly’s, let us know if we can help you overcome your stress and get your photo collection under control.

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