For Day 4 of Alex Beadon's #FeelGoodBlogging challenge, she's taking a page out of one of my favorite magazines, US Weekly. Each month there's one celebrity sharing 25 things you didn't know about them. Thankfully, Alex only asked us to share 10. Hope you enjoy getting to know your friendly photo organizer a little better! Feel free to comment below and tell me if we have anything in common! :)
My father passed along his love of photography to me at an early age. He was definitely our family historian, documenting every important event throughout the years. I began taking photography seriously in middle school when I signed up for a class where we got to use classic manual cameras, develop our own film in the dark room and also process our own prints. I absolutely LOVED every minute of my time in that lab and watching the magic appear as my prints developed. Although I pursued other interests in college, including dance and archaeology, and dabbled in many different jobs post-college, my love of photography stood the test of time.
When planning my wedding seven years ago, I knew I wanted to hire a solid photographer who would give me full digital rights to use the photos as I wished post-wedding. Don Mears and his wife, Lindsay, did a stellar job to say the least! While a traditional wedding album was included in the package, I wanted to make digital wedding albums to give our parents as a gift. I did a bit of research and learned of My Publisher and I've been using them for various photo book projects ever since. I cherish my traditional album from Don & Lindsay, (it is absolutely gorgeous!) but it remains safely tucked away in its storage box most of the time, while my digital album is out and about for anyone to flip through any time. And let's get back to the gifts... it's an understatement to say that both sets of parents LOVE their books. It's a stunning documentation of our special day and we all still flip through and cherish the memories of that sunny September day seven years ago. Seeing the joy this gift brought to our families made me want to give more. Photo gifts are unique, personal and truly priceless; they share our memories and tell our stories.
Fast forward to 2012, after I'd been a stay-at-home mom for three years and was looking to return to the workforce. I had so many business ideas during my time at home, but one kept coming back to me. Photo books. And yet, I couldn't see how making photo books could be a profitable business. So I signed up to attend Tory Johnson's Spark & Hustle conference that summer, hoping to get some inspiration for starting my own business. It was there I ran into Coach Jenn Lee, who I'd exchanged e-mails with earlier in the year. I was excited to introduce myself and to thank her for offering business advice to me (that I failed to follow up on!) The first business I told her I was considering was a career as a Virtual Assistant, after all, much of my corporate experience was in executive assistance. But then I mentioned photo books. And her face lit up. And apparently so did mine. She immediately pounced and could see that making photo books was my passion. And ironically enough, she'd been hired by the recently formed Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) to provide some coaching support. So she asked if I'd ever heard of them. "No," was my simple answer. Within a week, an employee of APPO called me to follow up on the interest I'd shown Coach Jenn. Two weeks later, I joined APPO. Three months after that, I'd completed their certification program and had officially launched Picture This Photo Solutions, LLC. It's been a whirlwind ever since!
Many are confused by my varied background in dance, then archaeology and now photo organizing, but I find a connection between all three. For one, I was never a "cubicle" person, even though I toiled away in one for many, many years. That's the dancer in me. Wanting to be up and moving around. And two, I've always had a deep love for history beginning with day trips to Colonial Williamsburg as a young girl and being absolutely fascinated by the "living" history represented there. It truly was like stepping into the past. So pursuing archaeology made a lot of sense to me. And it's also quite a physical activity when working in the field. But what does photo organizing have to do with any of this? Every person has a story to tell. And those stories are often buried in their boxes of photos. And as mentioned in yesterday's post, there are many treasures to be found at the bottom of those boxes. So photo organizing gives me the opportunity to be up and moving around, helping my clients sort through their photos, while also hearing fascinating stories about their lives and, like icing on the cake, I get to HELP people, which is another lifelong passion of mine. To sum it up, photo organizing takes everything I love and wraps it up into a nice, neat career that fulfills every passion of mine while making a difference in my clients' lives.
Clearly, 2014 has NOT been the "Year of the Blog" for me, but I'm hopeful that this week's FREE blogging challenge from Alex Beadon helps me get back on track with my business blog, so here goes!
Challenge #1: A Simple Introduction
Who am I?
I'm a certified personal photo organizer who is passionate about helping my clients organize, protect and ENJOY their precious photo memories. A few fun facts about me: I have a Master's degree in anthropology/archaeology and have worked on several historical sites in Virginia, including spending a year at James Madison's Montpelier. I find a strong connection between my archaeological background and my photo organizing career. There are many treasures to be found at the bottom of my clients' photo boxes, including Civil War-era tin-types!
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging as a form of networking, to put myself out there so that future clients could get to know me, to share my photo organizing expertise and to interact with my blog readers.
Who is your blog for?
My blog is for anyone with a passion for photography, but who struggles to find time to enjoy the photos they take. I share photo organizing tips, fun photo gift ideas and other photo-related topics that can help you on your photo organizing journey. I have a particular fondness for working with baby boomers & retirees and hope that my blog is helpful as they begin to ponder their life's legacy.
What's something I've been working on lately that I'm REALLY proud of?
Recently, I completed two different slideshow projects: one for a returning client and one for a brand-new client. One was a surprise for a 60th birthday party, the other premiered at my client's son's wedding reception. Both clients told me the slideshows were the hit of the parties. I take great pride in creating a product that is so well-received and brings so much joy to so many people.
What’s the ONE MESSAGE that you hope people take away from your blog?
I hope people find that I'm down-to-earth, accessible and full of helpful knowledge with regards to their photo collections.
I can hardly believe it myself, but Christmas is officially less than 100 days away! That means it’s definitely not too early to start thinking about how you’d like to incorporate your photos into amazing and unique holidays gifts for all your loved ones.
Here are 15 of my favorite photo gifts (in no particular order) and why I love them:
1) Digital Photo Books: The classic, can’t-go-wrong gift that your loved ones will cherish for years to come. There are so many publishers to choose from, but you won’t go wrong with either of my favorites: Shutterfly and My Publisher. My Publisher has a lovely, simple Pocket-sized book at a great price point that is perfect for sharing your family’s photos with grandparents and other family friends.
2) Digital Photo Slideshows: Easily my favorite photo product because pairing your photos to music never fails to pack an emotional punch. I love to make slideshows for not only major events like milestone birthdays, memorials and vacations, but also of day-to-day events, like an afternoon at the pool or a month’s worth of photos of my children. Regardless of the theme you choose, seeing your photos in this format will ramp up the emotional impact and is likely to bring the viewer to tears (in a good way!) You can make free slideshows with Smilebox and Magisto to name a few.
3) Photo Calendars: It all started with one calendar gifted to my mom years ago... now it is a yearly tradition that both my mom and mother-in-law have come to expect. It’s the photo gift that keeps on giving each and every month of the year. I love that not only can you design the top half, but you can also personalize the bottom half with photos added to the date squares to mark special events like birthdays. And since I’m already making one for the family, I always order an extra copy for myself. I just love looking at each month’s photos and seeing how much my children have grown from that point a year ago. Shutterfly is my personal favorite for calendars.
4) Wall Decor: You take a million pictures. Of course, you want to ENJOY them. So why not hang your favorites on your walls? The old school way would have been to print an enlargement, frame it and hang it up. But now, you can have your photo printed onto an actual canvas to hang on your wall. Canvas wall art is a booming business these days. I see Groupon and Living Social deals for them all the time. Just beware you sometimes get what you pay for. Oftentimes the canvas is stretched across a wood frame that will start to sag with time. Also, the corners can often look messy. If this bothers you, you can work with me to purchase an Artsy Couture canvas, whose quality is bar none. Originally designed for professional photographers to sell to their clients, I have partnered with them giving you the opportunity to use your own PERSONAL photos on their professional-quality products. The product is made right here in the DC metro area, is stretched across a solid piece of wood (so sagging can never occur) and they’re known for the tightest corners in the industry. Artsy Couture also offers Couture Gallery Blocks. These products are also handmade locally and consist of a photo laminated over a solid wood box. They are stunning, to say the least, and are one of the higher-end gifts for this holiday season. WeMontage is a newcomer on the photo decor scene, but one of the most exciting that I know: removable photo wallpaper!!! Just select 12-15 of your favorite photos and you'll receive a stunning sheet of wallpaper to hang. Sizes start at a 2' x 3' poster and go up from there. They can even be customized to your space. So go pick of few of your best shots from the year and display them proudly in your home. If you'd like even more suggestions on how to use photos in your home decor and/or other products available, don't hesitate to contact me any time!
5) Smartphone and Tablet Cases: Almost every one of us owns either a Smartphone or a tablet and have them with us 99.9% of the time. A photo case is an excellent way to keep your favorite photo(s) with you at all times, easily bringing a smile to your face in the midst of a hectic day.
6) Coffee Mugs: Although I’m not a coffee drinker, many in my family are, and they have LOVED the personalized coffee mugs I’ve gifted them through the years. What grandparent wouldn’t want to start the day seeing the smiling faces of their grandkids? What parent wouldn’t love to see the smiling face of their child as they perform their daily grind in the office? Coffee mugs are affordable and make a great gift for the coffee or tea drinker in your life.
7) Magnets: Even more affordable than mugs, magnets are a fabulous way to keep your photos front and center in your home. Select a few of your best photos, design a handful of magnets and voila! Your refrigerator becomes a photo gallery for your family and friends to enjoy.
8) Water Bottles: I don’t know about you, but I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go. Did you know you can put one of your favorite photos on a stainless steel bottle, creating a unique and eco-friendly gift?
9) Placemats: I’ve shopped for placemats recently and have been sorely disappointed. The selection isn’t great and the prices seem high. A better option would be to design my own placemats that display my photos. How about one for each family member for their special spot at the table? These are also great items for events such as weddings and milestone birthdays. Afterwards, they become a unique party favor for the guests to bring home.
10) Coasters: I think coasters make a great gift because it’s an item people don’t often purchase for themselves and it’s an unexpected place to see a personal photo displayed. You can get them in the standard hardboard version or the upgraded porcelain version that comes complete with a wrought iron stand.
11) Pillowcase & Throw Pillows: Who would have thought you could get a personalized photo pillowcase or throw pillow? Not me!!! I designed one for my daughter several years ago, featuring a photo of her precious Maya (a stuffed lamb she’s had since birth.) She has had the sweetest dreams ever since, resting her head upon her favorite lovey. There are so many ideas for gifting a photo pillowcase/pillow, including using a picture of a loved one who is deployed thereby keeping their memory close to the recipient’s heart while they’re away. I think this is one of the most unique photo gifts because very few people would be expecting one!
12) Photo Quilts and Blankets: Here's a great way to display your favorite photos without making a single hole in the wall: photo quilts and blankets! The quilts become a modern-day family heirloom and can be used either as a bedspread or as a wall hanging. The fleece blankets are super cozy for those cold winter nights and are almost always sprawled across our couch for guests to see.
13) Tree Ornaments: One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is decorating our tree. Unpacking and displaying all the ornaments we have collected through the years. When photos are included on your ornaments, they bring back so many great memories from year to year. So let’s not forget that one of the easiest (and, again, affordable) holiday gifts to give this year is a new ornament for their tree! My mom does a gift exchange with friends each year and has received so many beautiful ornaments for her tree. Why not make your friend a photo ornament memorializing good times spent together? Or spotlight the grandkids on a special ornament that the grandparents can proudly display to all their friends? A tree ornament can also make a special and unique gift for your children’s teachers, too!
14) Scanning: A non-tangible gift, but an extremely important one, nonetheless. Give the gift of photo scanning to a loved one to assist them in getting their precious memories, be they on prints, slides, negatives or film, digitizing for lifelong preservation. Once these memories are digitized, a whole world opens up for the family to share and re-live those treasured family stories. I highly recommend using a reputable company, such as Fotobridge, to assist with this process. There are many companies looking to profit off your desire to protect your memories, but who, behind the scenes, ship your items to foreign shores where labor comes cheap. When you send your items to Fotobridge, located in New Jersey, that is the first and last stop on their journey. Fotobridge is family owned and operated and I've met them personally. They handle ALL their clients' materials with kid gloves from start to finish and their track record is impeccable. You absolutely can't go wrong with a gift certificate from Fotobridge to help aging parents preserve their legacies. And if the thought of gathering and packing up your photos is too overwhelming, I'd more than happy to facilitate your order!
15) Photo Organizing: Last but not least, consider giving the gift of photo organizing to a loved one. There are so many of us that are completely inundated not just with our digital photos, but with a lifetime of prints as well. A photo organizer can help downsize their collections and consolidate them from multiple boxes and bags into one or more clearly labeled and categorized archival-quality boxes (see Legacy Box in photo slideshow below) that will take up much less room than before. A photo organizer can also help get overwhelmed families back on track with photos that reside on multiple devices and never get enjoyed beyond the occasional Facebook or Instagram post. And most importantly, a photo organizer can work with you to develop a back up plan so that your precious memories are stored in multiple locations and can never be lost permanently to natural disasters or hard drive failures. The gift of photo organizing is a priceless one! Contact me to purchase gift certificates for your loved ones today!
I sure hope I’ve helped kickstart your holiday gift planning with some truly original ideas to get your photos off your computer and into both your life and your loved one’s lives! Enjoy the slideshow below and please feel free to comment on your favorite photo gifts; I’d love to hear your ideas! As always, if you need assistance with any of these items, don’t hesitate to contact me, the sooner the better, to ensure your gifts arrive on time this holiday season!
I recently learned about Thumbtack and have signed on as a service provider in my area. It is great both for small business owners to find new clientele and for the consumer to be able to receive multiple quotes for a variety of services easily and conveniently.
I highly suggest any small business owner to give it a try and see what new leads it might bring. The sign-up process is free and you don't pay a dime until you provide a quote to a potential client. At that point, the cost is extremely reasonable. Also, clients may contact you directly, in which case, the lead is also free!
Take a look at my Thumbtack profile (it's a work in progress!) and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me about my experience using it!
Most of us live in a hectic, highly-scheduled world. We are bound by clocks and alarms. And from this perspective, we attempt to organize our lifetime of photos. But we get hung up on TIME. Your goal of organizing your lifetime of photos seems too overwhelming and it gets tabled for later.
I’m here to tell you a little secret. When it comes to organizing your photo collection, throw time out the window. Don’t get hung up trying to puzzle together days, months, years, even decades. You’ll make yourself crazy and won’t get anything accomplished.
The easiest way to start thinking about your photos is in categories. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, vacations, immediate family, extended family. You get the picture. While every family will have a different set of categories, it is MUCH easier to pour over thousands of family photos within the context of categories. Your category piles will start to build and you won’t waste any time struggling to remember the date & year of your Uncle Joe’s wedding.
Think about it. When you need to find a specific picture, you wouldn’t think, “I need to find that picture of my sister taken on April 5, 1973.” You think, “I remember a great picture of my sister taken at Uncle Joe’s wedding.” So when your photo organizing project is complete, you can easily open your archival-quality storage box, find the weddings section, then find the tab that says “Uncle Joe’s Wedding” and voilà! There’s that great pic of your sister!
This one tip alone will make it so much easier for you to start your photo organizing project, but if you still feel overwhelmed by the sheer VOLUME of photos, just remember I’m here to help. Contact me any time!
Do you have piles and piles and bins and bins of your children’s artwork cluttering up your house? I sure do and my daughter has only been in preschool for two years!
Here’s a great way to preserve your budding artist’s masterpieces:
Take a look at Shutterfly’s children’s art-themed book called Mini Masterpieces. They also have several more professional-looking artist portfolio themes. Once you set your mind to it, the project won’t take as long as you think. Then when you have a beautiful photo book in your hands with all those special memories, you’ll feel less guilty throwing all their bulky art in the trash.
Did you hear me? I just said, “Throw their art in the trash.” Of course, you might want to hold on to a few key masterpieces that are just too hard to part with, but for the majority of drawings and paintings, they are now preserved for all eternity both digitally and in a printed book, so belly up to the bin and start tossing!
(I must admit this is easier said than done. I completed the first book of my daughter’s art several months ago and haven't had the courage to send the original art dumpster diving just yet.)
And don’t forget what a treasure this is to your children. My 4-year-old may not realize the effort it took to create the book, but she sure does appreciate it. She thanks me profusely for her art book and is so very proud of it. She’s gained a valuable sense of self-worth knowing Mommy thought her art was special enough to create an entire book of it. And that, in itself, is priceless.
When a loved one passes, most of us rush to find photos to remember and memorialize them. But with their spirit goes their stories. Wouldn’t it be great to capture those stories before it’s too late? Interviewing my grandmother, pictured beside me, is high on my priority list. She has so many great stories and has such a fabulous memory. I want to capture it all while she's still able to share them with me!
If you have a loved one, be they elderly or terminally ill, there’s no time like the present to dedicate some time to sit with them, look through their photos and document the memories those pictures invoke. A few tools to make the project easier include a handheld digital voice recorder and a Flip Pal mobile scanner. Whether you get through 10, 20 or hundreds of pictures, the legacy they leave behind will be that much richer. And just taking the time to sit and talk to them, especially for the elderly, will instill a sense of pride and importance in them, when many often feel forgotten and unimportant.
If this kind of project sounds right for your family, but seems too daunting, you can hire a personal photo organizer to help. And once their favorite pictures have been selected and their stories have been collected, the photo organizer can put them all together in a professionally bound book to present both to the storyteller and their family members. If you feel you can’t afford to hire someone to help, consider pooling money from several family members to make it more affordable for everyone involved.
I can guarantee you will never regret having spent money documenting your loved one’s legacy to be shared for generations to come!
InfoTrends estimates that U.S. consumers will store more 380 billion photos in 2012, and that that total will approach 700 billion by 2016.
Hello! And thank you for checking out my new blog! I launched my business in 2012 precisely because we are all drowning in a sea of not only shoeboxes full of printed photos, but literally thousands, upon thousands, of digital images taken with our fancy DSLR's, point-and-shoots and Smartphones. We know capturing images of our lives, both the big milestone events and the daily details, is important, but we don't know what to do with them after we click the shutter. That's where personal photo organizers like myself come to the rescue. We can spend as little as a few hours with you, setting up an organizational process for you to complete, or spend many hours with you sorting and organizing a lifetime of photos. We can come to your house once or on a monthly basis to consolidate and back up your family's photos. We can take your cherished pictures and create the most stunning displays of art for your home. We can relieve the anxiety and stress you feel at the thought of losing a lifetime of pictures. As we saw with Superstorm Sandy, it can happen in an instant. And what do those who have lost their homes most often go back to look for? Their pictures. Concrete evidence of a life well lived. Make 2013 the year you commit to organizing, protecting and sharing your family's photo collection. It's a commitment you won't regret!
I'm an APPO-certified personal photo organizer with a passion for helping people protect and share their family photos.
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