By Cathi Nelson
One Trillion Photos in 2015! That is the number of photos people around the world will have taken by the end of 2015. Why? Because we can. Just ten years ago, taking a photo required a camera, film and developing. In 2007, digital photography changed all that. Now we take endless images without expense, and see the results immediately.
Yet in the midst of this digital revolution, the one problem all the developers of mobile apps, software, cameras, and memory cards forgot to consider was, how in the world is the average consumer supposed to manage all those photos? How do you find the photo of the first day of school in the midst of hundreds of thousands selfies and sunsets?
This digital photo chaos has led to a growing opportunity for professionals to offer remote digital photo organizing. A recent study from Info Trends supports what personal photo organizers know firsthand,” consumers are not necessarily as technically advanced or inclined, as developers might believe. For many respondents organizing photos into folders on their computer is the ingrained method of choice. They might hate it or they might think they don’t have enough time to do it, but that’s where they are coming from.”
Two members of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers share their success in this new and growing profession. Meet, Cari Dawson who lives in Los Angeles and owns, Cari’s Custom Organizing and Caroline Gunther who lives in Illinois and owns, The Swedish Organizer.
How Did You Get Started Offering Digital Photo Organizing?
Cari: I started my organizing career as a Residential Organizer and I found that many of my clients had photos collections that needed attention. As we sorted and scanned photos, I realized that the organizing of their digital photo collections was really my favorite part of the process. It combined my love of photos with my enjoyment of the technical side.
Caroline: I offer digital photo organizing, because I have offices in two countries, and I travel a lot, so I like the idea of being able to work from anywhere. It gives me the freedom to work when and where I choose, and I like having that independence. Photos are universal, so why should I have to limit my customer base to my local zip code?
What is Your Specialty?
Cari: My specialties are digital photo organizing and remote digital organizing.
Caroline: I specialize in preserving people's memories, and that can take many forms. From photo organizing to genealogy, to everything in between. One day, I may be digitizing a box of slides, and another day, I may be tracing someone's ancestry across borders. That being said, one of my specialties is remote digital organizing for files and photos.
Share a “Real Life Example” of a Client You Helped.
Cari: My favorite remote client was a mom and part time professional photographer. She had a collection of almost 30,000 digital photos that were stored in many different places on her computer and on several external drives. I was able to get rid of all the duplicates, and organize, and name all her photos. And I always require that we create two backups for her system.
Caroline: I recently helped an elderly gentleman learn how to use an iPad. His children and grandchildren frequently send him digital photos in emails and through cloud services, and when we first met, he had no idea how to view them. He was embarrassed to ask them for help, and so he had reached out to me instead.
What is the Most Common Problem You See?
Cari: The most common problem is that most people don't get all their photos off of their devices and into one place. Most digital photo collections are also not being backed up, and therefore too many people are losing their precious memories.
Caroline: People don't know where to start. They know they have to address their digital mess, but they aren't sure how to go about it. Photo organizing is an ongoing process that involves most members of the family at any given time, and everyone may have different photos on different devices, so it's overwhelming to figure out the workflow.
What are 3 Skills You Need to be Successful?
Cari: Technical knowledge and comfort with computers, constant professional development to keep current with the rapidly changing technology, and the ability to run a business professionally and efficiently.
Caroline: Tenacity, patience, and a genuine desire to help.
What is the Income Potential?
Cari: I believe if you can commit to your career as a full time job, then you can make a good living.
Caroline: The income potential is only limited by your own abilities to keep up and scale your business.
What Training Do You Recommend?
Cari: I keep up to date on training through APPO, and I find my own training on YouTube and Lynda.com. I have learned the most through practice and trial and error. I always try something new out on myself, before suggesting it to a client.
Caroline: I recommend ongoing education to stay current with the technology. Understanding the different programs and services is essential to be able to help someone else.
What Advice Would You Give Someone Just Getting Started?
Cari: Take it one-step at a time. It is important to see yourself as a professional. It is not bad to learn by working with friends and family, but be sure to make the change to “real” clients and start charging appropriately for your time and talent.
Caroline: Immerse yourself, and never stop learning. Set a goal to learn something new every day, and you will get better with time. Ask for help, ask for advice, and make sure you join APPO!
Cathi Nelson had her “light bulb” moment when she recognized that consumers were becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the exploding number of photos, media and memorabilia they were accumulating. She started her own photo organizing business called PhotoSimplified and was amazed at the response from clients and others who wanted to learn how to add photo-organizing services to their business. In response she founded, The Association of Personal Photo Organizers to support the new and emerging profession of photo- life management by providing training, support, products and collaboration for people interested in adding photo management services to their existing business or as a new business. Since its inception, APPO has grown to hundreds of members throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom.