How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

Photos tell the story of our lives….but how we can turn our images into a lasting photo legacy?

A “legacy” is a gift that is handed down from one generation to the next. For example, the president of a company might leave a legacy of integrity, honesty, and grit.

Instead of just handing down a random collection of unorganized photos to future generations in your family, wouldn’t it be great to add the details in your photos, so the stories aren’t forgotten or lost?

Creating a photo legacy involves taking some active steps to organize and manage your photos, so they are easily found and identified.

Without the stories and identifying details behind the photos, your images are at risk of becoming items from the past with no apparent meaning – merely a collection of items. If you think of your photos as part of your family legacy – with the stories, accomplishments, values and challenges they represent – then they become part of a legacy that future generations will cherish.

In this post, we’ll identify the things that could stop you from creating a photo legacy, how to get past those potential roadblocks, and how to take the steps to ensure the stories in your photos are preserved for future generations.

Roadblocks That Prevent You From Creating a Photo Legacy

Roadblock #1: You can’t remember the people who are featured in your photos.

It can be frustrating when you’re looking at older photos that aren’t labeled, and you can’t identify who’s in the images.

If you’re not sure whether your photos represent anything of value (because the stories and details aren’t included), you might not feel like your images are really a part of your family legacy.  

The good news is that there are clues in old photos that help you narrow things down. Check out this post for some excellent tips on identifying people in your older photos.

Family resemblances can also give you clues about the people in your photos. For example, does your grandfather look very similar to your brother? If so, that resemblance can help you sort out the “Who’s Who” in your images.

Roadblock #2: We don’t know how to make our photo collection into a photo legacy.

You might feel like you’re not sure how to create a photo legacy…but the good news is that it isn’t that difficult. You just need to know what steps to take!

Here are some tips for making your photos part of a legacy collection that people can enjoy for generations.

How to Create a Photo Legacy

1. Make sure your photos are preserved and stored properly.

As a photo organizer, I’m a stickler for making sure you preserve your photos, so they’ll last a long time.

When possible, always preserve your original prints. They are a historical example of something members of future generations don’t get to see or touch very often – and that makes them important!

If you don’t want to keep your old heritage photos, sometimes museums or historical societies will accept donations of items like this. I get really sad when I think about prints (especially old heritage ones) being thrown away!

Designate a family historian to be in charge of the photo collection, and let your family know who that person is! This may seem obvious, but you need to tell people who has the photos and where the images are being stored (physically and digitally).

You can make your digital files a part of your estate, and share login details so they don’t get lost – just make sure you keep these details updated if you change login and password details.

If you are using a library system or a shared site, you also need to make sure someone is maintaining that system. The family historian or the person responsible for the estate needs to keep things current, and be aware if a site has become obsolete.

Wouldn’t it be awful if you thought you had your photos safely stored online, only to find out the company or site has gone out of business – and your photos were gone? That’s why I recommend keeping it simple, and storing photos on a device that’s easily accessible.

2. Be mindful of technology changes.

Digital file formats can change, and I recommend keeping your file formats current. For examples, your home movie reels and tapes should be converted to digital files.

I recommend making that files formats are current as formats changes, and ensuring that your files can be read by current equipment and software.

I just read a recent article on the possibility of Apple making some changes to their file formats. It is always important to be aware of changes like these, to keep your collection current with trends – otherwise you may end up with file formats that your devices can’t read or play!

If this sounds daunting, we can help – managing file formats is something we do for our full-service clients.

3. Share the stories.

Try to keep photos of a series together, including photos from the same event or day. As the stories unfold, these images will tell the story of what was happening at that moment.

When you’re taking photos, use your camera to take pictures of moments that tell stories.

You can also create a family timeline to document events, dates, etc., so you can use it to identify and label your pictures. A family timeline will make the job of the family historian a lot easier!

For more ideas to on getting stories out of your family, check out these tips from one of our recent posts.

You can also use photos to help you document the meaning behind sentimental items. Photographing these things can help you let go of these items, or just document their meaning – which is especially important if you plan to bequeath them to a family member.

My mother used images to document the meaning behind some of the heirlooms that were passed down to her from her mother and grandmothers. It’s so much more meaningful to know the stories behind some of these artifacts, versus just seeing a pretty bowl or serving platter.

4. Use metadata to save the “who, what, where and when” of your photos.

Metadata” is information that goes along with a photo file, like what camera was used the take the picture, when the photo was taken, etc.. Photo metadata allows information to be transported along with an image file, in a way that can be understood by other hardware, software, or end users.

Storing information with an image’s metadata is a great way to make sure information about the photo doesn’t get lost – but there are a few things you need to be aware of when you’re editing photo metadata.

The best way to edit the metadata of a photo is to save the metadata directly to the image – which you can do with Photo Mechanic or Adobe’s Lightroom. It’s critical that you edit metadata and save it directly to the file, so that information will always travel with the image, if you’re exporting the photo or moving it around from place to place on your computer or tablet.

If you’re using a library application or software (like Google Photos, or Apple’s built-in “Photos” program), you can add metadata like keywords, etc. – but that information is saved in an external file that will be stripped out if you move or export the image.

Folks can unknowingly strip metadata out of their photo files by exporting them from certain programs, so the technical information (date taken, camera settings, camera type) gets lost. That can mean a lot of work down the drain!

If you want to add keywords or tags to your images, the ONLY way to preserve those changes is to save them to the file using a program like Photo Mechanic or Lightroom.

If you use a library application, that also means you’ll only be able to find your images when you’re in that particular app or program, which doesn’t allow you any flexibility for working with your photos. If you save your metadata directly to the file, you will always be able to locate your photos, without being dependent upon a specialized photo app or program.

Adding metadata to images is a service we provide to our clients, because most people don’t want to manage this themselves – but they like that we handle this, so the details of a photo are saved and made available for future generations.

5. Make sure the file details are universal and logical (to anyone).

The simpler your system is, the easier it will be for people to find things – so it’s a good idea to make sure your organizational system can be understood by anyone who might be looking for your photos at a later date.

If you plan to keep things simple and organize your photos in folders with filenames that include the details of the event, etc., make sure the naming is easy to understand and follow. For example, using acronyms or nicknames may not be universally known to future generations. Here’s a great article written by colleague on the best ways to file photos based upon the theme or event.

However, with artificial intelligence, files can now be searchable based upon certain keywords for details such as location, people, and events. This is where the accuracy of the photo file’s metadata comes into play (see above).

I’ve realized this is a more common method for younger generations, or for tech savvy folks who like this system – but you’re likely to pass along your photos to younger generations, so this IS important to keep in mind!

Photo keywords tie events together, but you need to be consistent so that when you search, you find all the files that fit that search criteria. Check out this article for types on best keywording practices.

If you want some recommendations on best practices for naming photos, so the information is searchable, here are a few articles to help you out:

How Having a Photo Legacy Helped Me Celebrate a Wonderful Moment with My Daughter

I’ll share a recent experience that emphasizes the benefits of having photos ready to be part of your family’s legacy.

Our daughter Molly and her husband Michael are currently in Thailand enjoying their honeymoon. Just this week, they had the opportunity to interact directly with elephants while they were on their trip.

Molly was really looking forward to this experience – and it didn’t disappoint!

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

After seeing this photo shared by her hubby, I realized that this actually wasn’t the first time Molly had been that close to an elephant! I remembered another photo, taken back when Molly was really little, back in 1993:

How to Create a Photo Legacy That Lasts for Generations

Because my photo collection is organized, I was able to find that older image and text it back to Molly and Michael within a few minutes. Imagine what it would’ve been like it I didn’t have my digital photos organized, or if I just had a stack of prints hidden in the back of one of my closets! It was such fun to be able to find this image so quickly, and be able to share it with them.

In my next post, I’m going to share all the insider secrets of how I got control of my own photo collection. I’m going to tell you exactly how I was able to find this photo so easily – so make sure to keep your eye out for that post in just a few weeks!

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!

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Memorable Family Reunion

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Memorable Family Reunion

Family reunions are the perfect time to connect with extended family members we don’t get to see very often – and summertime is the best season to host one!

Whether you’ll be gathering with a dozen close family members, or several hundred relatives, planning a fun, memorable, and meaningful family reunion can be challenging. You’ll need to stay organized and keep your sense of humor throughout this experience!

I’ve helped plan a number of family reunions and larger family gatherings over the last few years, and I’ve learned a lot about how to plan a successful event. Here are my top 10 tips for planning your own family reunion:

1. Plan in advance. To get a lot of people to attend, you’ll need to give your family members lots of advance notice about the event. Allow plenty of time for folks to get the date on of their calendars, and make their travel plans. Some people may need to buy plane tickets, and they can save money if they buy in advance, so the more notice you can give, the better.

2. Think about how long you want the event to last. Are you gathering for just one meal, or will your get-together last an entire weekend? The longer your event lasts, the more activities you’ll need to plan and the more food you’ll need to provide – but longer events also mean you’ll get to (hopefully) spend more time together as one big happy family.

Whatever you decide, make sure to communicate about the length of your event clearly, so your relatives know what to expect.

3. Consider the purpose of the family gathering. If your relatives are already getting together because of another event (like a graduation ceremony, wedding, or even a funeral), it can be a great opportunity to plan a family reunion. Everyone will already be in one place, which can mean you’ll be more likely to get people to attend your reunion.

The day after our daughter’s wedding (which is now right around the corner!), we’re having a family picnic. Since both sides of the family are traveling to Seattle for the wedding, we thought this was a perfect chance to spend more time together to get better acquainted.

4. Create a planning committee. It helps to have input and assistance when you’re planning a reunion, so get some help! You can delegate the food, accommodations, activities, and/or communication about the event. The bigger the family, the more details there are to keep track of, and you don’t need to do everything yourself to have a successful event.

5. Set your budget. Reunion expenses can get out of hand quickly if you’re travelling for the event, or have a large group of attendees. With your planning committee, decide if you’ll ask folks to help pitch in to offset the cost of the venue, food, activities, or accomodations. If you ask people to pitch in, work with your committee to come up with a figure that’s affordable for your attendees.

6. Carefully come up with your guest list. How large do you want your reunion to be? You can go big, and host a giant event with your extended family (one side, or both sides), but you can also consciously decide to host a smaller event, with just couples and kids.

When you’re making the guest list decisions, remember that large events can be great, but they can also be expensive and time-consuming to plan…..make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew!

7. Decide if you’re going to send invitations. If you decide you want to send invitations, you can use Evite, which enables you to send free online invitations via email, share details on locations and activities, track RSVPs, and receive correspondence about the event. Keep in mind that if you use Evite, you’ll need an email address for each family or attendee.

8. Consider who’s attending when planning the activities. If your group is multi-generational, you may need to split up your activities a bit, and have different age groups doing separate activities. You can get as detailed as you want when you’re planning activities. You can provide ideas for your family members to consider, or even make reservations for activities and outings for the entire group.

More than likely, you’re going to have some people in your group who need a bit of downtime every day. Make sure you give people the choice to opt out of activities if they need time to recharge.

In my blog post on family traditions, I talked about a Memorial Day event I attended with my family a few years ago. In their enthusiasm to create a fun weekend, my relatives packed every moment of that weekend with games and activities. As one who’s not a big fan of games, competition, or extended time with people (yes, I’m an introvert), this was a tough weekend for me in some ways. It would have been nice if the event planners had factored some downtime into the schedule.

9. If you’re planning an outside event, have a backup plan. Make sure you know what to do if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Can you gather under a picnic pavilion, or go inside the house, if you’re meeting in someone’s backyard? Make sure you’ve got enough room to accommodate everyone in your backup space.

For my daughter’s wedding, the post-wedding picnic will be held at the house we’re renting. The house has a nice-sized yard we can comfortably entertain in, but should the weather change, we can bring everyone inside.

10. Plan on including some storytelling in the event. Reunions are the perfect time for storytelling! Take pictures at the reunion and bring pictures to reminisce over with your relatives.

And by all means, prompt the members of the older generations to share their stories. How often do you get the chance to just listen to them talk about their lives, with that type of audience? Don’t miss this opportunity to get your older relatives to chat!

Want to know how to take storytelling photos at your reunion? Pick up a copy of our free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with Your Family Photos.

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!

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album (and How Long Does That Process Take)?

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album (and How Long Does That Process Take)?

During the photo organization process, many of our clients ask us to create special albums of their precious memories. I love creating custom albums for my clients, and it’s one of my favorite parts of being a professional photo organizer.

When you create a photo albums, you get the opportunity to share photos in an accessible way, and showcase the stories those photos tell. Albums can be a personal way to honor a life or a milestone, reminisce about a memory, share mementoes (such as recipes or artwork) or favorite interests (like fishing, painting, photography, or nature).

It’s fun to laugh with my clients as they share funny personal stories or travel adventures (and misadventures!). The best part of creating these special keepsakes for my clients is seeing the joy on their faces as they pour over their published albums.

In one of our previous posts, we talked about how photo organizers typically work, and how much time you should allow for certain projects. Some of my clients asked why it takes so long to create a photo album – so I wanted to explain a little more about what the process looks like, what it typically costs, and why it’s important to plan ahead if you’d like to create an album to give as a gift for a special event (like a wedding, graduation, anniversary, or birthday).

Curious about how the album creation process works? Let’s dig in!

What Our Customized Photo Albums Look Like

First, let’s set the stage: What kind of albums do we create for our photo organizing clients?

These albums are personalized keepsakes that are often displayed prominently in the client’s home, and we customized each album based on the needs of that particular client. We don’t use templates, and these aren’t cookie-cutter projects for us. The album style, color, and quality are all carefully chosen to coordinate with the decor in the client’s home.

Our albums are luxury books that are published with premium vendors. They are published on high-quality paper, and include sturdy covers that can won’t get torn or destroyed when lots of people handle them. The albums lay flat when you open them, so you can view all the photos easily and comfortably.

What does it take to put one of these premium, personalized albums together for a client? First, we start with our prep work.

Our 5 Key Prep Steps for Creating a Client’s Photo Album

When we kick off a new album project, we always start with doing a some crucial prep work. These are the steps we need to take before we begin design the album:

1. Organize the photos.

Sometimes a client knows they want our help creating a special album, but their photos aren’t organized, or they’ve got digital photos spread haphazardly across multiple devices.

If this is the case, the first thing we need to do is organize the client’s photos, so we can choose the best images for the project.

We’ll search through the client’s photos to find the ones that fit the theme of the album, then resume organizing the rest of the collection after we’ve completed their album project.

2. Choose the theme of the album.

If you’ve never created an album before, it can help to have visual examples of what’s possible. We can show you samples of albums on each of these themes:

  • Year in Review
  • Life Story
  • Travel
  • Milestone Moment (i.e. Birthday, Anniversary, Graduation, Wedding)
  • Showcase Mementoes (ie. Artwork, Recipes, Memorabilia)

We’ll work together to choose the overall theme for your project.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

3. Select the photos.

Once we’ve got your theme nailed down, we’ll select the photos for the album.

We are always careful to pick photos that are the best quality (meaning they are clear images, and the key elements of the photo are easily identifiable).

We’re also looking for photos that tell a story. We want to share the location, the details of the experience, and the main people and places behind the image. Sharing the moment as clearly as possible is always our main goal.

Ideally, we’ll select digital photos that are ready to be used right away. If you want to use print photos in your album, they will need to be digitized first. We can do that for you, if you need help with that step. As part of our premium scanning services, photos are named by the date and event.

Sometimes the color or lighting of a particular photo isn’t optimal, so a little editing might be needed. This is done post-digitizing, and part of our pre-album design services.

4. Plan out the album text.

We can use strategic sections of text in your album to:

  • Explain the relationship between photos.
  • Remind the reader of details (like people, places, or things) with a label or caption.
  • Tell stories. Journals can be very helpful in telling stories, and we have clients who jot down funny stories, favorite foods, and people they meet in a travel journal when they’re on the road. These stories are incorporated throughout the travel album, giving the client a chance to revisit precious memories. Those stories are also preserved for future generations to enjoy.
  • Share funny quotes or stories from the people who are part of the album’s story. When we created my father’s 80th birthday album, we asked his friends and family to share funny stories and photos of him. That text became a really important (and treasured) part of the album.

5. Choose the size of the album, and the publisher we’ll use to create the final product.

Our albums are designed according to who will be publishing it, so we need to choose that vendor in advance, so we can plan accordingly.

We also need to decide on the final size of the album, so we’ll know how large each page will be. We typically design 12×12, 10×10 or 11×8 albums for our clients.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How We Design Our Photo Albums

Once the prep work is completed, we’re ready to design the album pages.

Our albums are designed with a clean, classic, timeless look, and the photos are the primary focus of each album spread.

We don’t use embellishments or patterned backgrounds, like you would on scrapbook pages, as we feel that these are distracting and can make the album look dated. We want our clients to be able to enjoy their albums for years to come, without the albums looking old-fashioned after five, ten, or even twenty years have passed.

Because we’re all about creating albums that last, we use carefully selected premium publishers that create high quality products. We make sure that we create albums that stand the test of time, and we want our clients to feel proud to showcase their albums in their homes.

Initially, we work side-by-side with the client to select the best photos for the album. We’ll make note of any details about the theme, stories, location, or stories, so we can group photos together and create appropriate captions and text in the right places.

At this stage, we’ll also discuss design preferences like fonts, background colors, and so forth, so those details can all be incorporated into the design.

When we’ve got all the photos selected, we proceed with designing and planning the layout of each page of the album.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

Publication Process – and Why We Need a Lot of Lead Time

Once we’re done designing, we’ll upload it to an album proofing site, so the client can review the entire project (on their own, or in-person, with me).

The client reviews the photos and text to check for accuracy, and provides input on any changes that need to be made. Since we’re always careful and accurate during the early planning and designing stages, there are typically few revisions at this point.

When the album is approved, we upload the final project to the album publisher, and place the order. Album publishing is a separate fee, and the cost varies depending upon the size of the album and the number of photo spreads.

Most album publishers have a 10-spread minimum and a 50-spread maximum. For larger travel experiences (for example, a 4-week trip to several countries), we can split an album project into multiple volumes. We can also order more than one copy of the album if you need extra copies.

Turnaround time varies by the publisher: Final publication and delivery can take one to two weeks, depending upon the publisher and time of year. The busiest season is during the winter holidays.

We typically design and submit albums for publishing BEFORE late November, or AFTER January 1st. Experience has taught us that placing orders for holiday gifts in December can be risky, and we can’t guarantee that you will receive your album in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

Occasionally a publisher will have some production issues, so we always allow extra time in case an order needs to be redone.

Publication schedules are one of many reasons that I advise my clients to give me plenty of notice for album projects.

How Does a Photo Organizer Create an Album?

How Much Time Does the Entire Album Creation Process Take?

By now you might be wondering: How long does creating an entire album usually take?

The answer is – it depends. How long your project will take depends on whether your photos need to be organized first, how many photos you have, and whether we’ll need to digitize or edit your photos before we can use them in your album.

Here are some approximate timelines for each stage. These as minimums, and these times can vary widely depending on your individual situation. I’ve estimated most of these tasks in “half days”, which is the typical unit of time I charge my clients for:

  • Selecting photos – 1 to 2 half days
  • Digitizing – 1 to 3 half days
  • Album Design – 4 to 8 half days
  • Album publishing – 1 to 2 weeks (depending on the publisher)

Talk to Us About Your Personalized Photo Album Project

We’d love to create a beautiful, keepsake photo album for your special event or travel experience! When you create a customized photo album, you’ll have a special keepsake that you can display on your home, share with your friends and family members, and appreciate for many years.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your project.  

Which Cloud Sharing Site Is the Best Option for Backing Up My Photos?

Which Cloud Sharing Site Is the Best Option for Backing Up My Photos?

Actually, that’s a trick question!

There’s a difference between backing up your photos for safekeeping, and sharing photos with your family and friends – and you need to use different tools for each one.

This is a question that frequently comes up in conversations with my clients, so it’s important to clarify that these two tasks are not the same thing!

You probably don’t want to share your entire photo collection – but you definitely need to back up the whole collection.

Today’s post will be focused on sharing your photos using a cloud-based service, how various services store the images shared on their sites, and privacy considerations you should consider before you make your choices.

What You Need to Know About Sharing Photos on the Cloud

When you think about how you share your photos (and who you share them with), consider your whole collection. There are people captured in the images in your collection that you know would love a chance to see those photos – either for the first time, or to reminisce about a fun moment from the past – but it’s unlikely everyone you know would want access to every single one of your photos.

It’s sort of a “part” versus “whole” situation – and that’s why it’s important that you treat backup and sharing as separate tasks.

It’s critical that you have a backup system that copies ALL your photos to a safe place, so that if something happens to your original copies, you have a way to restore those images. In a previous post, I gave some tips for backing up your photos, so you can check out that article if you need a place to start.

Then when you’re ready to share your photos, you can share just the most relevant photos with the people who would enjoy seeing them, using a photo sharing service or social media platform.

Sharing Photos on Social Media Sites

In our social media communities, we might share photos of everyday moments or milestones. Your social media friends or followers don’t want to see copies of every photo you take, but they enjoy viewing hand-selected favorites.

Social media is a good place to keep folks updated about what’s going on in your life, so think about it as a place to share the highlights of your photo collection.

Because social media sites typically compress/optimize the photos stored there, it’s not a good place to restore photos if something happens to your originals – so it’s never a good idea to treat a social media site (like Facebook) as a backup service.

Also, remember that social media platforms are public sites, so always check your privacy settings if you are concerned about who might have access to your photos. From time to time, these sites can change their features, which can also change access rules – so it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date on those changes, and periodically review your privacy settings.

Sharing Photos Using Photo Sharing Services

As a photographer, there will also be precious moments when people in your community are participants in events, special get-togethers, family dinners, and other milestones. When that happens, the photos you share are part of their histories, too. Those are great photos to consider sharing via a photo sharing service.

When you share images on a photo sharing site, you can give other people direct access to the photos, so they can download high-quality originals. My favorite photo sharing sites are SmugMug, Amazon Prime Photos, and Dropbox, but there are tons of options.

With each of these services, you set up a paid account and set your own privacy settings, so you have control over who can view and download your photos. You can set up shared albums or folders, then decide who has access to each one.

This can be a convenient way to work together on group projects, too. On many photo sharing sites, you can even add comments or ask questions about specific photos, which makes these services a great tool for collaboration.

For my father’s 80th birthday album, my family used a sharing service to share potential photos for the album and make decisions about final selections. My sisters uploaded photos that I downloaded and used to create his album.

Our mother added comments and answered questions in places where we needed a little help. Since we all live in different states, using a photo sharing site was an easy and fun way to collaborate on this important project.

Using Apple’s Shared Albums for Sharing Photos

You can also use Apple’s Shared Album feature to share photos. You can set up a Shared Album, then invite people to view your photos via iCloud. It’s a great way for people to view updates within a friend group or family, without having to take up space on your devices.

Since the photos for each Shared Album are stored in the album creator’s iCloud Photo Library account, they don’t live on the viewer’s device, which is handy in certain circumstances.

For example, we have a shared album for our family to view photos and videos of our puppies! We have days when we share a lot of photos, and we don’t all want those images eating up space on all our phones. Apple’s Shared Album feature makes it possible for everyone to view the images, without having to download all of them.

Rosie and Norman

When you use Apple’s Shared Album feature, be aware that the photos will be compressed, which means you can maximize the space in your account – but if you want to get a copy of a particular image to use for yourself, contact the person who shared the photo for an original, full-size, high quality copy.

Making Sure You’ve Got Your Bases Covered

We all want to keep our photos safe AND share them with our friends and family members, and we want to do both of these tasks in the best, most efficient, and safest ways.

Treating backing up your photos and sharing photos as two separate and important tasks enables you to make smart choices about what tools you’ll use for each one.

Once you’ve got your tools and systems in place, you’ll have your bases covered, and you can snap and share all the photos you want.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photo Organizer?

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photo Organizer?Hiring a photo organizer is like enlisting a professional trainer to help get you in shape – it’s a process that happens over time. You wouldn’t hire a trainer to for one ten-minute weight-training session – and you don’t hire a photo organizer for one 15-minute block of time, either.

Hiring a photo organizer is a way to find a healthier approach to managing your photos. It will take time and effort to reach your goals, and you’ll want to hire the best possible people to help you along the way.

A lot of people want to know, “How much does it cost to hire a photo organizer?” and the answer to that question is always, “It depends.”

Let’s take a look at why photo organizing fees vary from client to client, what you should consider when you’re trying to decide if you should hire a photo organizer, and how we (at Picture This Organized) typically charge for our services.

3 Things to Consider When You’re Thinking About Hiring a Photo Organizer

Before you try to find an organizer to work with you, keep these things in mind:

1. Success requires a long term commitment.

Many people have photos all over their homes – in multiple file folders, in photo boxes in the backs of their closets, and hidden in hundreds of different folders on their computers and other devices. It’s no wonder a lot of people don’t know where their favorite photos are stored, and it’s not surprising that they keep most of their best family stories buried!

Whatever your photo situation looks like right now, remember that it took you years to get to this point. It will take time to get things straightened out. Sorting, organizing, digitizing, and backing up your photos will all take time, so you should expect to pay for many hours with a photo organizer.

Your success completely depends upon your level of commitment to the process, so you should also make sure you’ve got the time and energy to commit to working with your organizer and maintaining the system you create.

2. Photo organizing works best when you work with a professional who is well-trained and knowledgeable about the best approaches.

A qualified photo organizer will not only keep you motivated and accountable as you’re trying to maintain your new organizing system, but they can also prevent you from unknowingly doing harm.

For example, we always make sure you’ve keep the very best quality copy of the photos you’re organizing. You always want to keep the image from the original source, rather than a poorer-quality digital version from a CD or other source. We pay careful attention to these details, to make sure your photo collection is the very best it can be.

An professional photo organizer can put systems in place that are proven, and also customize those systems for your unique situation. Working with a professional also makes it easier to stay on track, exercise consistent discipline, and keep moving forward on your path to success.

3. Working with a photo organizer requires an investment of time and money.

Prices for professional photo organizing services are always based on the organizer’s value to you, the time needed to complete your project, and the organizer’s level of expertise.

The larger your needs are, the more time will be needed to organize your photos. How much time you’ll need to book with your organizer will depend on:

  • The amount of photos you have.
  • How many different devices you use for taking and storing photos.
  • How organized (or disorganized) you currently are.
  • The scope of your project.

Your investment will ultimately get you great results and give you enormous long term value, so hiring a photo organizer shouldn’t be a price-driven decision. When it comes to working with service providers like photo organizers, you always get what you pay for – so hiring the cheapest organizer probably isn’t a good idea.

Your family photos are priceless and irreplaceable. When you ask most people what they would rescue first if a house fire or other emergency threatened their homes, most people have “family photos” at the tops of their lists.

Why would you put your photos in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the experience or expertise to handle them properly? When you’re hiring a photo organizer, hire the most qualified (and most experienced) professional that you can afford.

Things That Will Affect the Cost of Your Photo Organizing Project

1. Your timeline. If you have a short deadline, some organizers will charge you a rush fee. Try to give your organizer as much time as possible so he or she can get to know you, your family, and your goals. If you absolutely must complete the work on short notice, you may have to adjust your expectations and work on just a portion of the project, so you can meet your timeline.

2. Getting help with scanning/digitizing of prints, slides, negatives, and movies. Scanning and digitizing of these items can be a time-consuming process, so you’ll need to pay more to have your organizer perform or manage these services for you. These services are typically priced by the scan, or by the length of the videotape, but some organizers charge by the hour.

3. The age of the media you’re working with. Newer media (like digital images) are typically less expensive to organize and back up than older, more fragile media (like home movies on tapes). Old prints and movie reels are more expensive to scan, because they’re more difficult (and more delicate) to work with.

If you’re organizing your digital images, costs will differ depending on:

  • How disorganized your digital photo collection is.
  • The number of devices you’re keeping photos on.
  • The number of photos you’ve got in your collection.

If you have lots of photos across multiple devices, it will take longer to gather them into one place and organize them. Photo organizing services include looking for duplicates, and renaming your images based on the date the photo is taken, the event in the photo, and the person in the image. We do this renaming so you can easily search for your photos based on these details.

This process takes time, but is worthwhile to create a system that will allow them to locate specific photos. Imagine what it would be like to be able to find all of the pictures of your mom (or daughter, or spouse) by just doing a quick search on your computer. Or how easy it will be to create a beautiful and meaningful photo album to give to your son for his college graduation. When your photo collection is well-organized, these tasks are so much easier!

4. The type of project you need help with. When your professional organizer helps you with organizing and managing your photos, work will typically be priced by the hour, or by the session. If organizers are creating slideshow or albums for you, they usually charge a fixed amount, which includes a limited amount of photos, and a set number of revisions.

What to Expect When You Hire Picture This Organized

I offer a free 30-minute phone consultation to get to know prospective clients, and find out more about their photo organizing goals. After a client decides they want to work with me, I typically charge by the half-day session.

During your first (paid) session, we’ll do an assessment, which means we’ll gather media and items to get started, then organize a plan for how we’d like to move forward.

In most cases, I ask my clients to pre-pay for two to three sessions, which we’ll use for services like scanning, organizing, and backing up your photos.

As we work through the pre-paid sessions (either in person, or remotely), I’ll keep you updated on our progress. When we get to the end of your pre-paid time, we’ll agree on what our next steps should be, and I’ll bill you for more sessions, as needed.

If I’m scanning/digitizing your images, I’ll quote you a price that is a combination of a price per item PLUS the cost of my time to incorporate the new digital files into your organizing system. The more photos you have to scan, and the more delicate those images are, the more costly your digitizing project will be.

If I’m helping you organize your entire photo collection, it will require multiple sessions. It’s definitely not a one-afternoon job. We DON’T provide up-front estimates of project size and cost, because we don’t know how long your project will take to complete – but we DO provide regular updates and work with you to ensure you are getting the outcome you desire.

If I’m creating a photo album for you, prices will vary because every album is customized. Album creation involves three phases: Selecting photos, designing the album, and publishing the album. Each of these phases is priced separately.

To find out more about how it works when you hire a photo organizer, you can check out our previous post, What (Exactly) Does a Photo Organizer Do? 

Want to Hire Picture This Organized? Here Are Your Next Steps

Picture what it would be like it you had:

  • All of your irreplaceable old photos, albums and slides converted to digital format, so you could access share them easily, and you knew they would be protected for future generations.
  • All of your print photos sorted and organized in bins, drawers, or boxes.
  • Every photo on your camera memory cards, electronic device, and computers backed up and protected.
  • Easy (and fast) access to every photo in your collection, so you could easily select images to share with friends and family and display in your home.

I know we’ve talking a lot about pricing and logistics in this post, but I want you to remember your ultimate goal: Being able to find, display, share, and enjoy your photo collection. We can help you achieve that goal – and even make the process fun and enjoyable.

If you’d like to organize your photo collection, create an album or slideshow, or digitize your photos or videos, I’d love to talk with you! Contact me to set up your free phone consultation

What Should I Do with All My Slides and Photo Negatives?

When I help clients go through their prints to get their photo collections organized, we will often find negatives and slides mixed in with their prints.

My clients usually ask me, “What should I do with these? Should I transfer them all over to digital format? How do I do that? Then what should I do with the original slides and negatives, if I digitize everything?”

These are complicated questions, and the answers I give my clients always depend on a lot of factors. In this post, I’m going to give you some tips about digitizing and organizing your slides and negatives, talk about the pros and cons of hanging on to the originals, and explains how to store them safely.

What Should I Do with All My Slides and Photo Negatives?

Should You Digitize Your Negatives and Slides?

Let’s start with the first big question: Is it a good idea to digitize all your negatives and slides?

The question I always ask my client is, “Are these photos already printed or digitized?”

If the images are printed, you can digitize the print instead of the slide or negative – which is often considerably less expensive. If the images are not printed, my recommendation is that you digitize the images first, then consider whether or not you want to keep the original negatives or slides.

The best way to digitize your slides and negatives is to find a reputable company to help you. I recommend Memories to Digital (they have stores in Boulder and Lone Tree, Colorado) and FotoBridge. If you would like help managing this process, I can oversee the project so the scanning company has all information needed.

But here’s the problem: Digitizing slides and negatives can be expensive, especially if your slides are old. If you take a large collection of slides in to a conversion company and have them scan all of them for you, you will be charged for ALL the images you give the scanning company – even the badly composed or poorly lit shots.

If you aren’t on a tight budget and/or don’t have that many slides or negatives to scan, I’d recommend just scanning all of them – it’s simpler and easier. However, if you want to be discerning and only scan your very best shots, you’ll need to view your slides or negatives in advance to choose the ones you want to digitize.

How to Select the Best Slides and Negatives to Digitize

Here are some options for viewing your slides and negatives:

  • You can do it the old-fashioned way, and hold your slide or negative up to a lamp or overhead light in your home. This is a bit cumbersome, but it still works!
  • If you’ve got an iPad, there’s an app called Light Pad that you can buy to use your tablet as a negative viewer. It works with both slides and negatives.
  • You can use a light tracer (yes, one of those devices we used to use as kids, that artists use to trace images) to lit up your image. The images you’ll view will still be tiny if you use this method, though. 
  • You can use a low resolution scanner to scan a temporary file for viewing and selecting the best negatives or slides to send to the digitizing company. This will let you see a larger, more detailed version of the image, which will help you in making your digitizing decisions. Amazon has several models that are affordable and perfect for this process.

When shopping for low-resolution slide and negative scanners, look for ones that are compatible with your computer. Often, a device designed for PCs won’t be Mac compatible, and vice versa. Also, look for the option to import your scans to a computer so that you can view from your computer screen. Otherwise, you might be viewing the scan from a small screen on the scanner – which is really not much better than just holding your slide up to the light in your living room!

Important note: If you’re going to go the scanner route for viewing your slides, I don’t recommend that you do the final scanning yourself on this type of equipment, because inexpensive scanners will scan your slides and negatives at a low resolution. That means your digitized images won’t be clear, and you won’t be able to enlarge them past their original size. Typically a slide or negative is best scanned at 1500-4000 dpi, and you’ll usually need to go to a professional scanning and digitizing company with top-notch equipment to get that quality.

If you want to do your own scanning, you can purchase a high-quality scanner (again, look for the dpi quality listed above), but keep in mind that it’s a tedious, time-consuming process.

How to Get Your Slides and Negatives Organized for Your Scanning Company

Once you’ve selected the slides and negatives you want to scan, try to put them into a logical order so that the company will scan your images in order of timeline and event. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some digital organizing once you get your digital images back – and I think it’s easier to do this organizing at the beginning of your project.

Ask your scanning company about what resolution they’ll use to scan your images. If you plan to print a photo that’s 5×7 or smaller, or if you’re going to email the image or put it onto a web page, I recommend 1500 dpi. For the highest quality for archiving and printing, 3000 to 4500 dpi is best.

You may have slides where the owner or photographer wrote some information about the photo directly onto the slide frame. In this case, ask your slide scanning company if their scan can include this information. These details will be helpful for naming your files.

For example, the scanning company may just name your image files using your name, followed by the image number (“Smith-001.jpg”). After you receive the files, you can rename specific images with the detail written onto the slide frame (for example, if the slide says, “1960 family picnic,” you can name the file “1960-Smith-Family Picnic-001.jpg”).

The Pros and Cons of Keeping Your Slides and Negatives

Wondering whether or not you should hang on to your original slides and negatives? Here are the pros and cons of keeping them:

Pros of Keeping Your Slides and Negatives:

  1. Your slides and negatives are the originals of your images, and they contain all the information needed to digitize.
  2. Digital files aren’t completely fail-safe. Hard drives can fail, we can lose our computers, and sometimes we accidentally delete files. By saving our original slides and negatives, can always go back and replace what’s been lost.
  3. Sometimes, there are scanning errors (wrong dpi, slides are dirty when they are scanned, etc.). If the digitized version isn’t done properly, you can always go back to the original and rescan it.
  4. Technology is always improving, so at some point in the future, we might invent a device to scan old media in a higher quality.

Cons of Keeping Your Slides and Negatives:

  1. Your originals can take up space in your home, and you’ll have to make room to store them long-term.
  2. Slides and negatives can be difficult to view.
  3. Your slides and negatives can be more expensive to scan than your photo prints.
  4. The support for scanning equipment for slides and negatives may not keep pace with technology, so you might end up with equipment you can’t use or slides you can’t scan at all.

How to Store Your Negatives and Slides and Keep Them Safe

If you decide you’re going to keep your negatives and slide, you’ll want to store them safely to make sure they don’t get damaged or degraded.

For negatives, you can store them in archive quality envelopes, or get sleeves that can be stored in a 3-ring binder. There are also sleeves or file boxes made especially for slides. You’ll need to choose the right storage method for you, based on the amount of storage you have to work with – just make sure your storage containers are always archive quality.

Here a note from the National Archives, about choosing storage methods for your negatives, etc.:

“Negatives and transparencies can be stored the same way as photographic prints, using the same high quality papers and plastic which pass the ANSI IT9.16 Photographic Activity Test (PAT). (The PAT was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a test that determines whether or not a storage material will cause fading or staining in photographs.) There are paper and plastic enclosures and storage boxes designed for film formats available from most manufacturers. Like prints, negatives and transparencies should be stored in a cool, dry location.”

What (Exactly) Does a Photo Organizer Do?

What (Exactly) Does a Photo Organizer Do?

What is a photo organizer?

What kinds of things do we do for clients, and how exactly does that process work?

If you’d like to hire a photo organizer, what’s the best way to find the right one for you?

Photo organizing is a relatively new field, so a lot of people have these questions. I thought it would be a good idea to answer all of these FAQ’s about photo organizing in one post, so you can get a good idea of what we do, how we can be helpful to you, and how we work with clients once we’re hired for particular projects.

Let start at the top, and work our way through these questions about how photo organization works.

What Is a Photo Organizer?

Photo organizers are a group of professional business owners who understand the evolution of photos and how complicated it has become to keep our images under control. Our services can include helping you with photos (print and digital), slides, negatives, old photo albums, home movies and even memorabilia – essentially, we help you with all the things you’ve used to capture the stories of your life. Some photo organizers can even help with genealogy research for your family.

Photo technology changes constantly, and the pace of change won’t be stopping (or slowing down) anytime soon. But you’ve got some wonderful memories captured in the form of photos, videos, and memorabilia, so you really need to understand the best ways to share, display, and preserve them properly for future generations.

When you work with a photo organizer, you get help from someone with experience and training who can lead you through the organization process, guide you to make the right decisions, and avoid doing unintentional harm.

A photo organizer can help you with older media (like decades-old home movies, or film negatives from your first camera), and we can also help you organize and maintain your newest photos, as technology continues to change and shift.

Many photo organizers are women, but there are some men in our field, too!

What Are Your Photo Organizing Goals?

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

Photo organizers can help you with a short-term project such as a photo album or a slideshow. They can also work with you long-term, help you organize a lifetime of photos, home movies and memorabilia. If you organize your entire photo collection, it makes future short-term projects (like photo albums and slideshows) considerably easier, because your best photos will be easy to find.

Would you like your photo organizer to:

  • Train you on the best organization, management and backup practices, so you can manage your collection on your own?
  • Advise you on the basics of photo organization, but be a bit more hands-on by showing you the more complicated technological practices?
  • Manage your entire photo collection, and help you keep it under control, long-term?

Different photo organizers 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 and let us take care of the rest!

What Will a Photo Organizer Do for Me, Once I’ve Hired One?

Hiring a photo organizer is similar to hiring a bookkeeper or accountant. When you hire a bookkeeper or accountant, he or she will interview you to get some specifics on your expenses.

Then that person can help you get your finances under control.

You might use your bookkeeper or accountant on a regular basis, just to clean things up and then prep for taxes, or your bookkeeper or accountant might show you how to keep things under control, but available for help should your records need some occasional maintenance.

Similarly, a photo organizer will interview you during an in-person 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 understand “who’s who” in your family, and understand why and where you take pictures.

We also will ask you how you would like to find your photos. The answer to this question helps us understand the kind of system you might need, so you can locate your photos easily, and in a way that works for you. 

During that assessment, your photo organizer may also collect some identifying photos to use for reference, and write down key dates in your life, so she has context for the photos with which she’ll be working. She will also back up your initial photo collection – then move forward from there to get everything organized.

You can work in person with a photo organizer, or your organizer may work off-site on your photos from time to time – it depends on the project.

After the initial assessment, I typically take my client’s photos to my home work studio. We can work much faster this way (rather than me working side-by-side with the client) because I can look at the photos and the stories objectively, and the client is not likely to start reminiscing and getting distracted.

Depending upon what we’ve brought with us, at this point in the process we are:

  • 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 (such as family members names, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, etc.) to refer to when identifying photos.
  • Setting up an organizing system for your digital photos

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, to organize and keep the collection updated and organized as they add new photos.

With all of our projects, we keep the clients updated on our progress by phone, 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 Organizing 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, and 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 organizer to help you keep it under control.

After the initial assessment (see above), we will get started 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 organizer as soon as possible.

For example, 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:

  1. Select the photos to use for the album.
  2. Digitize the photos, if the client is using prints.
  3. Color correct the images, so that the photos will display well in the album.
  4. Design and correct the album.

This process can be time-consuming, so it’s best to give your photo organizer plenty of time. Unfortunately, I sometimes have to turn away clients who contact me a few weeks before their big events, because I won’t have time to finish their albums.

Some photo organizers 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 expense.

What’s the Best Way of Finding a Photo Organizer Who Can Help Me?

I’m a member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, and you can find a directory of photo organizers on their website. Each profile lists the location, services, and specialties of that particular organizer, as well as any special certifications they have. You can also find photo organizers by simply searching online – you can trying Googling “photo organizer + [your town or city]” 

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

Check out the “What Are Your Photo Organizing Goals?” section above, to get clear on what you need before you begin your research.

If the photo organizer you’re considering has a website (and it’s a good sign if she does!) check out the site to find out what they do, and get a feel for that person’s personality. While having a website is not a necessity in this field, it is a good sign, because it means the organizer is well-established and has invested in her business.

I would also recommend looking for an organizer who has invested in training, certifications, and memberships (like the Association of Personal Photo Organizers) so you can weed out people who are doing photo organizing 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 organizers, 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.

A phone consult is also a helpful way to get to know a photo organizer and figure out if you’re a good fit, so look for organizers who offer this as an option.

The Benefits of Working with a Photo Organizer

A qualified photo organizer can help you get your photo collection under control, help you find and share your favorite photos, and set up a system for maintaining your collection from this point forward. The right photo organizer 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 organizers will get to know you (and your family) and develop a close working relationship that feels comfortable and easy for you.

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