What (Exactly) Does a Photo Manager Do?

Photo management used to be called photo organizing and is a relatively new field. Many people have questions about traditional pictures, film, and memorabilia, along with digital photos and videos.

If you’re thinking of hiring a photo manager, what’s the best way to find the right one for you?

I thought it would be a good idea to answer some FAQ’s about photo managing so that you can get a sense of :

  • the services we offer and how they work
  • which ways we can be most helpful to you 
  • how we communicate our process before, during, and after your projects

Let start at the top and work our way down a list of questions about how photo management works.

What Is a Photo Manager?

Photo managers are a group of professional business owners. They understand the evolution of photos and how complicated it has become to keep our traditional print photo and digital image collections under control. Our services can include: 

  • photos 
  • slides 
  • negatives 
  • old photo albums 
  • home movies
  • art or other memorabilia 

Essentially, we help you with all the things you’ve used to capture the stories of your life. Photo managers can even help with genealogy research for your family using services like Ancestry.com.

Photo technology changes continuously, and the pace of change will pick up speed rather than slow down. No doubt, you’ve got many beautiful memories captured in several forms of old and new media. That is why you need to understand the best ways to share, display, and preserve them properly for future generations.

When you work with a photo manager, you get help from someone with experience and training who can: 

  • lead you through the organization process
  • guide you to make the right decisions 
  • avoid doing unintentional harm to more fragile pieces

You may have decades-old home movies and film negatives from your first camera, or need to maintain a vast number of photos and videos taken on a smartphone or other digital device. A photo manager can support your entire collection even as technology continues to change and shift.

What Are Your Photo Management Goals?

Before you hire a photo manager, consider your goals and what you’d like to get out of the relationship.

Photo managers can help you with a short-term project, such as creating a photo album or preparing a slideshow for a special event. They can also work with you long-term, helping you organize a lifetime of photos, home movies, and memorabilia. It makes future short-term projects considerably easier if you sort your entire photo collection, making your best photos more accessible. If you want to create a photo collage for special occasions like weddings, showcase a recent vacation, or put a legacy album together for a loved one who has passed, you can quickly piece the highlights and history together.

Would you like your photo manager to:

  • train you on the best organization, management, and storage or backup practices to manage a collection on your own?
  • advise you on the basics of photo management, but take care of the more complicated technology practices?
  • manage your entire photo collection, and help you keep it under control, long-term?

Different photo managers will have individual preferences for how they like to work. At Picture This Organized, we prefer working with clients who hire us to not only learn the basics but to manage their lifetime of photos so they can keep capturing those precious memories!

Once I’ve Found a Photo Manager, How Do We Begin?

Hiring a photo manager is similar to hiring a financial advisor or IT support service. They begin with an interview to describe your current situation, how it could be improved, and recommend the best ways to get the current “mess” under control.

You might use your financial advisor once in a while to consolidate debt and figure out how to invest or budget college tuition for the kids. You reach out to the IT provider to add new hardware or software systems to your home or office. But sometimes you need regular weekly or monthly maintenance services to make more complex changes over time and meet a long term goal. This takes daily tasks off your hands while someone else keeps everything organized, up to date, and secure.

Similarly, a photo manager will interview you during an in-person or video call assessment to ask some questions about your current photo organization system and get specifics on you and your family. One of the main goals of that interview is understanding the relationship of individuals, the general history in your family, and learning which types of photo opportunities are most important to you. 

  • where do you go to travel or celebrate? 
  • what activities do you do while you are there? 
  • why are some memories more significant to you than others?

We also ask how you would like to find your photos when you need them. The answer to this question helps us put a system together. Whether you want to keep them in separate storage containers, digital files, or a secure cloud application, you can locate photos quickly, and in a way that works for you.

During your assessment, your photo manager may also collect some identifying photos to use for references and write down key dates in your life to have a context for the images as they work. They will also back up your initial collection, then move forward from there to get everything organized by dates and themes.

You can work in-person with a photo manager, or remotely by video call to go over your photos from time to time – it depends on the type of project, your goals, and what is most convenient.

After the initial assessment to gather digital images remotely or by picking them up in person, I typically take my client’s photos to my work studio. I can look at the pictures and the stories objectively, and the client is not likely to start reminiscing and get distracted. This makes the process go faster.

Depending upon the types of media, I begin by:

  • sorting through print photos and organizing them
  • copying images from devices – camera cards, external hard drives, CD’s
  • creating an inventory of what’s been gathered
  • documenting key information – family members names, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, etc.- to refer to when identifying photos
  • setting up an organizing system for your digital images

I also help long-distance clients who are outside my local area. For these clients, we can set up systems to sync with their photo collection location, to organize it, keep it updated, and secure it as they add new photos.

With all of our projects, Picture This Organized keeps our clients updated on our progress by phone, video call, email, or during in-person meetings. We can also upload photos to a sharing site like Dropbox to remotely share our progress.

How Much Time Does It Take to Complete a Photo Managing Project?

The answer to this question is, “it depends.”

Do you want to organize and protect your entire photo collection? Most of our clients have thousands of photos in boxes, on their computers, phones, and cameras. I’ll bet you do, too!

Since it probably took many years to take the photos in your collection, getting them organized is going to take time and won’t happen overnight. But once a system is established, you can maintain it or hire the photo manager to help you keep it under control.

After the initial assessment described above, we will start creating a system, and after that, we usually work in half-day sessions. 

Do you have a time-sensitive project for a special event? You’ll want to start the process of finding a photo manager as soon as possible. Clients often contact me to help them create a photo album for an event, party, or special celebration. A project like this is completed in several phases. We will need to:

  • select the photos to use for the album
  • digitize the photos if the client is using prints
  • color correct the images so that the photos will display well in the album
  • design and edit the album

This process can be time-consuming, so it’s best to give your photo manager between two and four months to complete it. Unfortunately, I sometimes have to turn away clients who contact me shortly before their big events, and there isn’t enough time to finish their albums.

Some photo managers do have rush fees, so you’ll want to think about whether that’s an expense you are willing to pay – but if you allow enough time to complete your project well in advance, you can avoid this additional cost.

What’s the Best Way to Find a Photo Manager Who Can Help Me?

I’m a certified professional and member of ThePhotoManagers.com (formerly the Association of Professional Photo Organizers (APPO)), and you can find a directory of qualified photo managers on their website. Each profile lists the location, services, and specialties of that particular photo management business, as well as any specialized certifications they have. You can also find photo managers by simply searching online –Google “photo manager or photo organizer,” either locally or nationally, depending on how you want to work with them.

To make sure you find a photo manager that is a good fit for you, do your research ahead of time, and make sure to choose someone who offers the services you need. Some organizers are “full service” professionals, who can help you with end-to-end photo management, maintenance, and protection. Others offer only a few specialized services.

In the “What Are Your Photo Management Goals?” section above, you can get clear on what you need before beginning your research.

Any well-established photo manager who is invested in their business will have a website. Check out the site to find out what they do, how long they have been in business, and get a feel for their personality. 

I would also recommend looking for a photo manager who has invested in training, certifications, and memberships, such as The Photo Managers, to weed out people who are doing photo management as a hobby. You’re trusting this person with your family photos, so you really want to hire a professional for this job!

When you’ve narrowed down the possibilities to a few photo managers, look for testimonials on their websites, or ask them for references so you can learn more about how they help their clients and what it’s like to work with them. Ask to see examples of their work and have them explain the skills and techniques they use.

A phone consult is also a helpful way to get to know a photo manager and figure out if you’re a good fit. Look for organizers who take the time to have a short conversation about your needs.

The Benefits of Working with a Photo Manager

A qualified photo manager can help you get your photo collection under control, make it easy to find and share your favorite photos, and set up a system for maintaining your memories from this point forward. The right photo manager can save you tons of time, hassles, and headaches!

I know it might seem odd to consider getting help with something as personal as your family photos. But most photo managers will get to know you and your family, and develop a close working relationship that feels comfortable and convenient for you.

Working with a photo manager will help you preserve your favorite stories and memories to make sure your family legacy continues for many years to come.

6 thoughts on “What (Exactly) Does a Photo Manager Do?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.