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.

4 Headache-Free Ways to Access the Photos You Receive on Your Phone

“How the heck do I get these photos off my phone??”

That’s one of the most common questions I hear from my clients (or even from people at parties, when they find out I’m a photo organizer!)

It’s not difficult to transfer photos off your smartphone, but it’s not an obvious process, either. Often, when people try to access these photos, they feel confused or intimidated, which means they give up…and that’s a shame, because there are some terrific photos hiding on our phones!

In this post, we’ll talk about how to access photos that have been shared with your via text or email, so you can share them with other people or move them to your computer. Then I’ll explain how to remove photos from your phone, when you’re ready.

4 Headache-Free Ways to Access the Photos You Receive on Your Phone

How to Access Photos You Receive on Your Phone

#1: Accessing a Photo You Receive Via Text Message

When a friend or family member sends you a photo via text message, that photo gets put your SMS (text message) feed. In order to easily view and share it with others, you need to take one additional step to save that image onto your phone.

To do that, you simply click on the photo (from within the text). When you do that, you’ll see a larger version of the photo on your phone.

At that point, for most smartphones, you’ll see an option to save the image. Once saved, that image is stored on the camera roll of your phone – which means you can text it to someone else, share it via social media, or download it to your computer.

#2: Accessing an Image You Receive as an Email Attachment on Your Phone

If a photo was emailed to you as an attachment, and you’re viewing that email on your phone, then you need to save that photo to your device so you can access it later.

First, find the email with the photo attachment. Often email providers will show a paper clip icon next to the email subject line, in your inbox, which can be helpful to locate emails with an attachment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you the type of attachment – so once you’ve located the email, you’ll need to open that email in your email program.

Once you’ve opened the email, locate the attachment in the email, and click on it. At that point, most email providers will prompt you to download the photo, or give you an option to select where you’d like to save it.

When you’re viewing an email from a phone or tablet, selecting “Save Photo” will automatically save that image to the camera roll of that device.

#3: Accessing a Photo That Someone Sends You a Link To

Friends and family members will often share their digital photo albums via sites like SmugMug or Shutterfly. In that case, you’ll usually receive a link to the online album via email. If you want to access those photos, you’ll need to tap on the link and go to the site to view the album.

When the person who shared the photos has enabled “Visitor Downloads” in their shared album, you’ll be able to download any of the photos from the album. Just look for the photo you want to download, then follow that website’s prompts to download the photo.

If the sharer hasn’t enabled visitor downloads (or the sharing site doesn’t allow image downloads) you’ll need to talk with your friend or relative to get a copy of the image you want.

It’s also possible that someone could send you a link to a Shared Album in Photos (the iPhone/Mac app for managing photos). If someone shares an album with you, you’ll see the invitation notice in your “Photos” application.

#4: Accessing a Photo You Took Yourself, Using Your Smartphone Camera

When you use your phone to take a photo, those image are automatically saved in your phone’s camera roll. Think of it like having the SD card for your SLR camera, or like the roll of film for an older camera.

To share or download those photos, you can go to the “Camera” or “Photos” app on your phone.

A Quick Note About Photo Size and Quality

When someone shares a photo with you (via text, email, or social media) you’ll need to be aware of the photo size before you decide what you do with the image.

Online photos are often “optimized,” which means they are reduced or compressed versions of the original images. Optimized images are great for saving space on your phone, and they work well for the web – but they’re not the right size (or quality) if you want to enlarge them.

For example, if you want to use an image to create a framed photo for your wall, or as part of a big photo collage, you’ll need to get your hands on the largest, best quality image you can – and that may mean you don’t use the poorer-quality images you may see online.

If you received a photo via a shared site such as a Shared Album in Photos, Dropbox, or SmugMug then likely you have access to a file in its original size. These would fine for physical display.

However, when you’re downloading or sharing from social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, it’s likely these files have been compressed and are best viewed from the web or a smartphone. If you wish to use this image in a project, then you need to get a good-quality copy of the photo from the source (the person that took the photo).

In a future post, we’re going to talk more about image sizes, and how to figure out how large a particular photo is – so look for that post soon! For now, simply keep in mind that social media images are best for sharing…not for displaying in your home or enlarging for a project!

How to Remove Photos From Your Camera

I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’m always fighting for space on my smartphone, and getting those dreaded “Almost Out of Storage” messages.

Photos can take up a lot of space on your phone, so when you’re done sharing the photos and/or moving them over to your computer so you have a backup copy, it’s not a bad idea to delete them from your photo to free up some space.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before you delete any photos, make sure you’ve got another copy somewhere (like your computer, or your backup service!)

Here’s the overall process for deleting photos from your phone (specific instructions will vary based on your phone):

  1. Open the photos feature on your phone.
  2. Select the photo you want to delete.
  3. Tap the “Delete” button (or tap the trash can icon).
  4. You will typically get a prompt or pop-up box at this point, warning you about what you’re about to do. If you’re sure you’ve got a backup copy of the photo somewhere else, go ahead and tap “Okay” or “Agree” button, to delete the photo.

Other Questions?

Do you have other questions about accessing the photos on your phone? Let us know in the comments!

10 Things I Love About My Photo Organizing Clients

Last week I published a post on why I love my job as a photo organizer, and I promised you a second part to that post.

My wonderful clients are one of the biggest reasons I adore my job — so this week I wanted to dedicate an entire post to articulating all the reasons my clients are special to me..

Ready for some big-time gushing? Here we go!

1. My Clients Love to Travel.

One of the many reasons someone might hire a photo organizer is to help them manage and display the photos they take when they’re traveling. Because so many of my clients have been bitten by the travel bug, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the world through my clients’ photos.

Whether it’s a 3-week trip through Southeast Asia or a hike along the Appalachian Trail, I feel inspired by my clients’ love for learning about different cultures and meeting the locals. Their love of travel is a tribute to their willingness to see things from a worldly perspective, and I get to be a part of that through their wonderful photos.

2. They Are Adventurous.

Many of clients not only like to travel — they like to have BIG adventures while they’re doing it! I’ve organized pictures of bamboo raft rides in China, helicopter skiing in California, multiple cross-country moves, and exotic foods samplings.

Since I’m not an adventurous person by nature, this part of my job captivates my attention and fascinates me. I love seeing the amazing escapades of my adventurous clients as they show up in images — and the photos that are taken on adventures like this are often incredible!

3. My Clients Stay Connected.

I’ve seen photos of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of family gatherings – from everyday moments to holiday dinners. What sticks with me about the images of these gathering is that we seem to have a nearly universal desire to spend time together celebrating our relationships.

Some of my very favorite client projects are family Christmas albums. Many of these projects showcase photos that are over a period of many years, from early marriage to present day. One of my clients once told me that her children said the family Christmas album was the best gift they had ever received – and that kind of praise is music to my professional photo organizer ears!

That particular client had saved photos, Christmas cards, letters to Santa, and all kinds of keepsakes over many years of holiday celebrations with her family. She shared many favorite memories of various years, and her children just poured over those albums reminiscing over their shared stories about those holidays. She wanted to be sure that each child received their own copy of this family heirloom, so we worked together to create multiple copies of the album after it was complete.

I have tons of client stories like this, and they make my job really special. I love that my clients stay connected to their families, want to celebrate their gatherings (both large and small), and want to make keepsakes that their friends and family members will cherish forever.

4. They Care About Their Family Legacies.

My clients also want to honor and celebrate their extended families, and their stories. For my clients, getting the details of their family stories right is really important, and that includes who belongs to what branch of the family, the resemblances between family members, and other details that could potentially get lost if no one is keeping track of them.

In each family, there’s typically one member who is the self-appointed “historian.” They are eager for everyone – siblings, aunts and uncles, parents, and children – to know the stories and relationships of the family, including what family members have in common, and how they differ.

They are willing to pour through photos, slides, and even memorabilia to carefully select what to keep, what to share with extended family, and how to honor the stories and legacies that these items represent. Sometimes they even photograph various items for extended family, so they can select which items they’d like to have.

5. My Clients Are Willing to See Themselves Authentically, and Recognize Their Limitations.

Every family has their own set of challenges, so I try to help them see the importance of using photos that highlight their lives – as they really are! In my free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with You Family Photos, I talk about how we can tell better, more memorable and more cohesive stories with our photos when don’t expect every shot we take and display to be “picture-perfect.” My clients embrace imperfection, and they are willing to see themselves and their families authentically – and I love their bravery and willingness to be authentic.  

The people I work with also understand how important it is that we are able to find our photos easily. When there’s a pause in the busyness of life and a precious moment is captured on a camera, it’s important to be able to find that photo later, so the moment isn’t forgotten.

Even in this do-it-yourself-crazy world, asking for help with your photo organizing (or anything else) doesn’t need to be a statement of failure! I’ve seen how liberated my clients feel about releasing the photo organizationing piece to me and allowing me to help them get things under control. They deserve recognition for remembering to take a photo and capture the moment – as a photo organizer, I’m just helping them create order so they can easily remember and honor that precious moment.

6. They Celebrate the Milestones in Their Lives.

My clients are incredibly proud of their children’s accomplishments and life celebrations, and they enjoy using photos as a means to show off their appreciation and happiness. I love creating projects that help parents celebrate the special moments in their kids’ lives.

One client’s wedding celebration was especially memorable for me. As a tribute to their son’s life, a client wanted an album that would convey their pride in his accomplishments and their joy about his approaching wedding. While they suspected this would be a hit with their son, an unexpected bonus was the thrill their son’s stepsons got over his old football photos! His stepsons hadn’t known about that piece of his past, and it was clearly an opportunity for this newly blended family to bond over some very special family photos.

7. They Honor as They Grieve.

Most of my clients are in the midst of enjoying the fruits of our labor as our children grow up, leave the nest and have families of their own – just like me! But sadly, we’re also in that place of saying goodbye to aged parents. As my clients grieve over the loss of a family member, it’s a honor when I’m asked to help a client pay tribute to her loved one’s life.

While I may know many personal details about my clients’ families, I can still help my clients shift to a more objective perspective at a time when making decisions is difficult. Sometimes the photos we find depict a particularly sensitive time, such as the last days of a loved one’s life. Recently I unknowingly found one such photo that a client thought had been lost. Understandably, it was a bittersweet discovery.

8. They Like to Reminisce.

My clients like to remember their stories and life experiences, and I appreciate that. According to writer Kristine Dwyer, a staff writer at, reminiscence is “a free-flowing process of thinking or talking about one’s experiences in order to reflect on and recapture significant events of a lifetime.”

“We all live in the present,” Dwyer says, “yet we still carry our ‘past’ selves with us throughout our lives. We are part of a rich history that needs to be shared and preserved. The stories we tell about our lives are also important sources of self-identity, and they enable us to explore and relate our past to the present.”

Images help us with that process of sharing and preserving our histories, so I feel a real sense of fulfillment when I help my clients organize and display their photos.

It’s really about reliving our past – whether it was a vacation we had, or a milestone reached by one of our family members. My clients want to think about (and talk about) all the sweet memories so those moments aren’t forgotten, and I feel honored that I am included in that process when we work together.

9. My Clients Appreciate Their Children’s Accomplishments, Interests, and Individuality.

When I work with my clients, I love that they want to recognize each family member’s personal accomplishments and aspirations.

This is especially important when managing photos for our children. As we document important dates, there is enormous value in tracking where each child went to school, the music programs they participating in, and the sports teams they were part of.

Creating albums that highlight each child’s interests and life stories is an important exercise in honoring each child’s individuality and interests.

As a mom, I know it is sometimes easier to take photos of my kids as a group, just to capture the moment, but I’ve learned that my client’s children appreciate having individualized albums that document their individual interests, friendships, and milestones.

My clients sometimes create individualized albums like this because they want to help their children adjust to a significant transition, like a big move. Even for teenagers, an opportunity to look back at one’s life can help make the transition to a new environment less difficult. Sometimes adjusting to where we’ve arrived requires looking back at where we came from.

Being part of a family of four girls and one of the middle children, I appreciate the need to feel recognized and valued – separate from my siblings. I enjoy being part of my client’s efforts to recognize and praise their children’s individual interests and accomplishments.

10. My Clients Become My Friends!

I know I’m doing something right when a client tells me, “I’m glad you’re in my life!” As we review my clients’ family photos, they often share personal information as well as milestones, accomplishments and disappointments, so I end up know a lot about the people I work with. It’s an honor and a privilege to hold onto (and honor) that information for my clients.

Since I work with many of my clients long-term, I am also delighted to say that many have them have become friends. My life is so much better with my wonderful clients in it!

What I Love About My Job as a Photo Organizer

What I Love About My Job As a Photo Organizer

It’s no secret: I love my job!

As part of my work as a photo organizer, I help people manage their photo collections, create beautiful albums, safeguard their photos, and enjoy their memories in a format that works for them.

I’ve always been interested in life stories, and I believe our past shapes who we are – so one of our goals at Picture This Organized is to help you preserve your family legacy by taking the guesswork out of displaying and caring for your photos.

Here are 6 reasons why I love my job as a photo organizer:

1. I get to use my natural affinity for order and efficiency.

When it comes to working with photos, it’s all in the details – and I’m proud to say I’m great with details! I’m a naturally organized and efficient person, so I get to use my strengths every day in my work. That feels great for me, and works well for my clients, too.

Here are a few of the details I help my clients keep track of, when we’re creating albums and managing photo collections:

  • Making note of family timelines, so we can keep track of important information such as birthdates, anniversaries, school years, where they lived, when they moved, and so on. These family timelines and details help us tell a coherent story in the photos.
  • Using reference photos of individuals as we go through the organizing process, so we can accurately identify family members as they age.
  • When we’re working with photo image files, capturing the date the photo was taken and the event happening in the photos, so we group images in a logical order. This makes them easy to find and share later.
  • Researching locations and finding accurate spellings for travel albums, so photos are accurately identified.
  • Using word-for-word writing when using we use journals for storytelling, or using the client’s voice to keep things personal.

2. I’m good at providing an objective opinion.

We all take lots of photos, and we often feel overwhelmed when it comes to managing and organizing them. This was definitely true back when we all took print photos, but it’s even MORE true now that many of us have switched over to taking digital photos.

Instead of having photo boxes of prints in our closets, now we’ve got digital files hanging out in multiple folders on every device we own. Phew! It takes a lot to keep everything organized, backed up, and easily findable.

And here’s a little secret: It is much easier to organize someone else’s photo collections than it is to organize your own! I get personally connected to my own photos, and I struggle with selecting the best ones. When I’m working with my own family photo collection, it’s easy to get distracted by memories.

I think about how cute my children looked at each age, and the moments come flooding back to me. As wonderful as those memories are, they make it hard to move through the organizing process quickly and efficiently.

When I’m looking at a photo for client, I can make an objective assessment. I’m examining an image to decide whether people in the photo are well captured, and whether we have the best version of a shot.

And while I do look for photos that convey emotion, I don’t have the same emotional attachment to the event as my clients do, so I can make decisions more quickly.

Here’s another secret: I know my own limitations, and recently hired a colleague to help me (finally) with my own photo collection!

3. I enjoy teaching people how to use technology to improve their lives.

In the past, I’ve worked in service roles where I’ve assisted customers with sorting through software problems. I’ve also helped write training manuals, and trained people on how to use various tech products.

All of this comes without a degree in technology, software or anything close to it!

I’m good at understanding how technology can help people, and how it can makes their lives better – so when I help my clients understand how to get photos from their cameras, or find images on their computers, I can break things down into small chunks so it’s easier for them to learn.

I know that for most of my clients, working with these tools isn’t naturally intuitive. Because I don’t have a technical background myself, it’s easier for me to put myself in the shoes of the person I’m teaching — which means I never talk down to people or make them feel stupid when we’re working together.

I try to ease their minds and reassure them that if I can understand it, they can, too!

4. There are always new technological tools and techniques to learn, and I enjoy that.

Even though I’ve been in my field for several years, there’s always more to learn. As new tools, gadgets, and systems become available, I enjoy staying current on changing technologies, so I can be sure to find the right solutions for my clients.

Being part of an association of like-minded colleagues through APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers) has helped me stay current with the latest tech trends.

I’m also lucky to have access to professionals who are experts in areas where I’m still learning. I also have someone to ask, if I’m stuck on a particular question.

Being able to learn consistently and stay on top of new developments is great for my business, and my clients reap huge benefits from that, too.

5. Collaboration is good for everyone

When I work with my clients to help them enjoy their photos, I often get to collaborate with other local vendors and service providers. For example, when I’m working on a framed wall collage for a client, I work with several other vendors to complete the final product.

I select the images to use, then get the frames from a frame shop or retailer. I use a local printer to print the images, then I assemble it all and deliver it to the client.

It’s very fulfilling to collaborate with like-minded colleagues as we work together to provide excellent service to our clients.

6. I get to pay it forward.

I appreciate all the support and training I received from other organizers when I first started my business. Now that I’m an established photo organizer, I feel it’s important to pay it forward by helping new photo organizers establish sound foundations in their own businesses.

I enjoy participating in the annual Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) conference, where I get to provide advice, training, and mentoring for new photo organizers.

With all the pictures we take, and the massive overwhelm people feel when they try to their tackle their massive photo collections, there is huge need for people with the expertise I have – so I never feel like I am “training my competition” when I help out new organizers.

There’s plenty of room for all of us in this business, and more photo organizers means more people get help with displaying and managing their photos. That is ALWAYS a good thing!

Keep Your Eye Out for Part Two

I’m so passionate about my job, I wanted to write TWO blog posts about it! Stay tuned for Part Two of this “What I Love” series, where I’ll tell you all about why I love my photo organizing clients!

How to Choose the Right Photographer and Videographer for Your Wedding

It’s wedding season in the Kessler family! Our daughter Molly is getting married this July, and our son Sam’s wedding is in May 2018, so our family is in full wedding mode right now as we plan these two big events.

Finding good vendors for your wedding (like caterers, DJs, etc.) can be a challenge. For both of our upcoming family weddings, we are utilizing the services of wedding planners to make the process go more smoothly and keep our sanity. I’m not an expert on event planning, so I’m happy to release control to those who are – but when it comes to anything photo-related, or the best ways to tell the story of the big day, I have lots of opinions!

Because we’re in the middle of making these decisions right now for our son and daughter, I wanted to share some insights I’ve gained about how to select the best photographer and videographer for your wedding. These vendor selections are really important to get right, because there’s nothing worse than seeing poor-quality, badly-composed wedding photographs.

Unfortunately, when bad wedding photos or videos happen, there’s no “do over,” and there’s no way to go back and make it right – so it’s critical that you select qualified, dependable professionals to help you tell the story of your day in a unique and personal way.

Here are my best tips on selecting a wedding photographer and videographer for your wedding.

How to Choose the Right Photographer and Videographer for Your Wedding

Why You Should Hire Separate Companies to Handle Photography and Videography

These days, we have the technology to capture photos and video of your event – and I recommend doing both. If you have the funds to do so, I recommend leaving room in your budget for a photographer and a videographer.

And yes, I believe these two roles need to be handled separately. There are companies who provide both photography and videography services, which is fine, as long as they have two different individuals providing these services on the big day. You don’t want to have a photographer who is distracted by running a video camera (or vice versa!). Capturing still moments is very different from recording videos with movement and sound. You get the picture (no pun intended)!

My Best Tips for Hiring the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Here’s a list of questions and things to think about when you are screening wedding photographers:

Check out the photographer’s style in advance. Get examples of his work, and see if each wedding seems unique and personal. Most well-established photographers have websites these days, so having a high-quality site with a solid portfolio is a good sign.

It’s okay if the lighting and style seems similar from wedding to wedding, but you want to avoid a photographer that shoots every wedding in exactly the same way. You don’t want cookie cutter wedding photos! You should like how the photographer captures the wedding party and the guests, and feel like he has a professional yet personal style.

Ask about costs upfront. Of course, you want to make sure the photographer’s services are within your budget. You do want to make sure you get a high-quality photographer, though, since it’s such an important choice, so you may need to make adjustments to your budget so that you can hire someone who will do a great job for you.

Ask about the photographer’s experience with weddings. Is this a business or a hobby for the photographer? We all know that person who takes great casual photos of family and friends, but that isn’t the individual you want to hire to take photos of your nuptials.

Being a wedding photographer isn’t just about knowing photography – she also needs to be able to manage large groups of people, multitask during a very busy day, and be at the right place at the right time to capture the best moments of your day. She also needs to know how to deal with variable lighting, because she will most likely be capturing images of people both inside and outside.

Check to make sure they’ll be working with their own equipment. Make sure she will be working with their own equipment on the day of your event. Your photographer needs to be very familiar with the camera equipment she’ll be using….this is not a time to borrow someone’s gear for the day!

Make sure the photographer is thorough and professional. Inquire about whether or not he will be working off of a checklist of images for the day. You want your photographer to work from a list on your big day, so he gets photos of all your important moments!

I also recommend asking if they will be working with an assistant. Two photographers are always better than one, especially for candid (non-posed) moments.

I recommend asking whether the photographer has worked at your venue before. If they haven’t, request that he checks it out well in advance of your event.

Getting references from each professional photographer is a must. Call the person’s references to find out if the photographer acts professionally, is easy to work with, shows up on time, and provides the services promised.

Find out how you’ll get the finished product. It’s a good idea to inquire about whether the photographer’s price includes some editing – including color correction, straightening, and/or retouching. As perfect as you’ll look on this big day, there are likely going to be some imperfections and color issues. You’ll thank yourself later for investing in someone who is a skilled photo editor. Of course, if you have photo editing skills, you may be able to save some money and do this yourself, but you’ll need permission from the photographer to do it.

Also ask what happens after the photos are taken and edited. You’ll want to know whether you can get copies of the images once editing is completed (you’ll want this, especially if you want to handle printing and making an album yourself).

If you want some help from the photographer to create your album, you can also ask whether they do printing and album design. There will be a separate fee for these services, so make sure to get pricing up front if you’d like your photographer to handle this. In my opinion, it’s investment one you won’t regret – all too often, I hear stories of folks who had a great photographer but they never got around to getting anything done with their photos. Nothing makes me sadder than finding out that someone’s amazing wedding photos are hidden away in a photo box in a closet!

Do’s and Don’ts for Hiring a Top-Notch Wedding Videographer

Wedding videos are typically a film of the sights and sounds of your wedding from start to finish. You will get what you pay for when it comes to videography (just like wedding photography!) so you’ll want to make this decision carefully.

Here are some do’s and dont’s for hiring a professional videographer:


  • Check out their work. Most legitimate videographers have websites where you can see some examples of their previous work. Look for good quality filming, sound and editing. Can you hear the vows and toasts clearly? Does the film move smoothly through transitions, with visuals and with the sound?
  • Get to know your videographer. This person will be spending the day with you and your guests. If you enjoy spending time with him as you interview him, you and your guests will be comfortable having him film the big day.  
  • Interview videographers, and check references. Ask for names of references, and call them! Ask the reference how the event went, if they were happy with the final video, and if there were any hiccups. If there were any problems or issues, ask how they were resolved.
  • Ask how involved you will be in the making of your video. Will you have input into what is filmed? Do you get to decide what music will play in the background on the finished film? Do you get to request edits? How many revisions will there be?
  • Understand the videographer’s style. Some video professionals film in a “highlights” style, which can include people as well as inanimate objects (such as the dress, the rings, flowers). A “journal” or narrative style is more about capturing the events as they happen and showing people, and very few object shots are captured. Narrative style is my personal preference, as it keeps the people and the story of the day at the center of the video – but you need to decide what style you prefer!


  • Make a hasty decision. Check references and give yourself time to choose the best option for your preferences and budget.
  • Hire a hobbyist. Like the photographer, we all have that friend who would LOVE to film your wedding, but ask yourself if that person is really the best choice. This is one of the most important days of your life, and a great wedding video is an investment that will last a lifetime.
  • Limit yourself. Ask the videographer if she can also film the rehearsal dinner. This is typically an intimate setting where folks will feel comfortable sharing personal stories and anecdotes about the bride and groom. It’s a great idea to capture those moments on video!

Making the right choices for you

It’s worth the time to do your research and ask a lot of questions, so you can hire photo and video professionals that will capture the very best moments of your special day.

When you hire a top-quality wedding videographer and photography, you’ll have photos and videos of your big day that you can’t wait to display, share, and pass down to future generations!