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.”

After an initial assessment, Jim and our team got to work on his parents’ photos. To help them categorize the pictures and memorabilia, we spread everything out on their pool table.

Organizing Photos on the Pool Table

We showed Jim how to go through the photos and eliminate ones that didn’t have significance or meaning to him, his parents, or their children. Jim and Pam found freedom in letting go of these images, paring down the collection to something more manageable.

While Jim decluttered, categorized, and put photos in chronological order, our team would scan groups of images to get digital copies ready for future photo books and slideshow tribute videos.

Together, Jim and our team organized his parents’ collection over the course of 12 to 18 months. With Jim’s project complete, Pam was ready for our team to help her tackle their own family photo collection.

Although equally overwhelmed by her own collection of family photos, Pam already had a good start. She had about 75 percent of her photos boxed and semi-organized by date.

We worked side by side with Pam to pare down her collection, digitize and choose images for photo books.

From Organization to Treasured Legacy Gifts

Once the photos were organized, Jim and Pam were highly motivated to create legacy gifts for members of their family.

We helped Jim create two memory albums as gifts for his parents — one book of his mom’s life, and one of his dad’s. We also prepared two video slideshow DVDs of his parents’ lives to set aside as future memorial tributes.

Finally, Jim created a historical Grange family album that included all the memorabilia. Using his knowledge of how to catalog and store items, he created individual boxes, which he gave as gifts to each of his siblings.

“Finishing these projects was huge for Jim, especially after how overwhelmed he felt at the beginning,” recalls Pam. “He was so happy to give these gifts to his family.”

Pam’s first project was her daughter’s wedding album, which she had started several years earlier. We helped her finish choosing photos and guided her through the design process.

“I had done some of it myself, but felt stuck. Then Julie helped me with sharpening up an image, or making the pages more interesting,” says Pam. “Her team inspired me get my first photo book over the finish line!”

We also helped her with a Christmas album going back to their first years as a family. It included photos and memorabilia such as notes, Christmas cards, and letters to Santa. She gave copies of the finished album to each of their children.

Christmas Album Pages

Pam felt empowered by her progress. She said, “Not only did I learn the technical aspects, but also how to sort through photos and categorize. I went from a place of being extremely overwhelmed to realizing I CAN do this!”

Fun in the Details of Creating an Important Legacy

Today, Jim’s parents’ collection is completely organized, and Pam is looking to do one more culling of their family collection, then have the rest of their photos scanned. They both feel relieved and content with the progress they have made.

As Jim and Pam reflect on their mission to organize photographs and create memories, they want others to know it is possible to have fun in the midst of a challenging project like this.

“It was important to us to have these things organized for our family for the future,” says Pam. “But it was also a fun process! After all, you’re looking at your life and your memories. In the midst of the fun, Julie’s team kept us on task, and we appreciated that.”

If our client story motivates you to organize your photo collection or create some memory projects of your own, let us know how we can help.

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