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:
- Take photos with their smartphones.
- Save and back up photos they take, or images people shared with them on their smartphones.
- Delete photos they don’t like or want anymore.
- Store their originals (including prints, home movies, slides, and negatives).
- Share a photo with a friend or family member.
- Understand where photos are saved and how to access them, including on their computers, phones, tablets, or online sharing sites.
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.