If you wanted to find your annual family picture from 2012, how long would it take? Do you know where to look?
How many images are you keeping that are blurry? When was the last time you organized your digital image files?
I have good news, friends. September is International Save Your Photos Month! Organizing, archiving, and protecting your images is a real thing and there are resources and certified professionals out there to help you.
This is where Caroline, The Swedish Organizer, comes in. Caroline is a Certified Photo Organizer and you can find her online at her site, www.theswedishorganizer.com. She put together the resources that you'll need to jump on the bandwagon this month and start organizing your photos. She also offers a free email course in the fundamentals of organizing you'll find along with the other resources.
I asked Caroline a few questions about her work. The first questions were about what people generally do well in organizing and storing their pictures and what they don't do so well.
She explained that we take photographs to enjoy later, and that becomes harder to do when we don't document the stories behind those photographs. I'm going to put myself out there and confess I have those pictures in my own collection, most of them from more than ten years ago, that include people I know were significant at that time and yet I can't recall who they were or why we were together. It happens. The other thing she mentioned is that files are getting stuck on devices - we take so many pictures with our phones and most often those pictures don't go anywhere other than social media, so we aren't properly archiving them. On the positive side, through social media we do tend to document stories and that's a wonderful thing.
I asked about the size of a reasonable collection of images. I expected I would have a warped view of what this would be as I am used to cataloging hundreds of pictures each week. She said the average family has about 50,000 images when they come to her for help. I ran a few numbers on that to see how it distributes, because I like that kind of thing. Let's say this average family has been a family for about 20 years. That's 2,500 pictures each year, or 208 pictures each month. Not all of those are keepers, though, and that was one of Caroline's points of emphasis. These collections need to be curated, as she said, to make sure they don't include the blurry or outright terrible shots. She's worked with collections twice that size - over 100,000 images! Wow! Caroline believes that with the right tools and workflow any amount of images can be well organized and managed.
There is hope for you, my friend.
How would you feel if you knew your pictures were protected and organized? What would it be like to go through your collection on a family night and tell stories, knowing that the pictures you'll see are all ones you love?
Caroline says her clients feel tremendous relief when the work is done; this is after initially feeling overwhelmed by the process. I think of it as keeping up with laundry or dishes. I know that if I keep the kitchen counter and sink clear of dirty dishes by gradually filling the dishwasher or I wash a load of laundry here and there throughout the week I will grumble less. Seeing a gigantic pile of Stuff That Commands Attention only encourages me to resist doing it because it seems like too much work.
Fear not! Caroline has a solution for people like me (and maybe you). If the technology side of all of this cataloging and archive gets you, please check out Caroline's article on tech intimidation. You can do this. Ahem. So can I. And don't forget she also put together great resources to help you get started on organizing your photos, 'cause this is the month for that kind of thing.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.