By Cathi Nelson
As the years pass, one of the most distinct needs people have is to create a lasting legacy. Once their children are grown and grandchildren born, people begin to think less about tangible material things and more about the values and stories they want to leave behind. Life experiences and family traditions are what become meaningful. Everyone has a personal legacy to share and helping clients capture those stories is a meaningful career.
I interviewed three individuals who include Family Legacy Projects as part of their photo businesses. Their responses illustrate the rewarding variety and possibility of this type of work including the skills and products needed.
Marianne Behler of Lifetime Photo Solutions shares a project that lasted over a year and half to complete.
1. Tell me about one project you have completed.
My client, asked me to create a photo book of his pictures and stories that “spanned many generations and countries.” The finished project ended up being a 100 page photo book of both his Irish family, and his wife's Finnish family. The pictures and stories told a story of several generations of each family, how they met, fell in love, and lived their own life story.
2. How did you determine what to charge?
I charged a monthly stipend based on a work estimate for each month – my time and my hours invested. I worked about a year and half on the project. The family agreed to a certain amount before I began, and then it increased once I saw scope of the project was going to involve much more – more pictures, stories, time, and hence my skills and time to finish it.
3. What advice would you give to someone starting out?
My advice to all who might want to create family legacy books is start slowly. Consider creating your own family legacy story – so you have a sample book to show families, groups, and organizations.
By the way – I delivered the book to my client and his four boys and then had a book signing party at the completion. Three weeks later, my client died and the Priest based his sermon on the book – what an honor.
Laurie Moses of Picturing Life shares her experiences creating family legacy interviews.
1. Tell me about the type of projects you work on?
I conduct family history interviews. The overall interview, after careful editing, is usually 40 – 45 minutes. One of my objectives is to capture the person as he or she and their family would like them captured and remembered – for their legacy.
2. What skills do you need to offer this service to clients?
You need, strong interpersonal skills, because you have to quickly relate to and connect with the person you're interviewing. In addition you need technical skills, because you will be editing the interview and working with digital files. My best advice is … be willing to learn and figure out the best way to do things.
3. What are the challenges and rewards when completing projects like this?
I have found the biggest challenge is creating a sense of urgency around the need to capture the person's story. This is something that is easy to put off. But, especially with older people, their health and circumstances sometimes change quickly.
Partners, Kerry Butkovich and Becky Hussey of Photos Finished share their experiences.
Tell me about a recent project?
Our most recent project was creating a slideshow and commemorative book documenting the life of a couple over the last 57 years.
2. Describe the skills needed?
First we sorted and scanned over 5,000 photos then we sat with the client for over two hours and discussed their life.
3. What are the rewards?
The rewards are phenomenal. I was present at the party where the slideshow was shown and the book was revealed. The joy on the clients face was priceless! The children of this couple were ecstatic as they viewed photos (and then received copies) of their parents and their childhood — many of which they had never seen before.
These are just three samples of the type of projects families hire experts to complete. Photo books, video montages, and recorded video. The startup costs are minimal, but do require a comfort with technology and a willingness to learn and ask questions. If you enjoy meeting new people, listening to stories, and looking at old photos and memorabilia then this can be a great home-based business.
Cathi Nelson founded (APPO) as an answer to the growing need of our digital age – assistance for organizing an influx of digital photo memories, printed photos, media and memorabilia. APPO supports its hundreds of members by offering ongoing training, a supportive community, professional credibility and an annual educational national conference. You can learn more about the growing profession by downloading the ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Photo Organizer.