photo sorting

Photo Chaos Heroes: Meet the Photo Organizers

With a smartphone in every pocket, taking photos has never been easier. But keeping them organized has probably never been more difficult. We have photos on computers, hard drives, smartphones, and CDs—not to mention printed photos in boxes, albums, or scrapbooks. As our photo libraries have grown exponentially, so has our need for organization.

The personal photo organizing industry has emerged out of this need and stepped in to fill the gap. With more than five million pictures taken each day, personal photo organizers are passionate about helping people sort and preserve their photos and the stories they represent.

We had the opportunity to attend the 3rd annual Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) Conference in Orlando last month where we connected with more than 100 attendees and nearly 20 sponsors.

I was blown away by the photo organizers we met and their passion (and patience!) to help people sort, preserve, and enjoy their photos. Many of them told me that this is the most meaningful work they have ever done. They view photo organizing as more than a job—it’s a calling to help people save and share their treasured stories. And while I can’t imagine having the patience to sort through tens of thousands of photos, I am so thankful these delightful people do!

If you’re unfamiliar with the personal photo organizing industry, here’s what you need to know.

Who are photo organizers?

Photo organizers are typically independent business owners or small businesses who specialize in helping you manage your photo chaos. They are storytellers at heart who want to see you be able to find and use your photos how you want to.

What do photo organizers do?

Each photo organizer is different, but here are some of the common services offered:

  • Organizing digital and print photos
  • Training in photo management techniques and technology
  • Digitizing printed photos, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia
  • Producing digital and traditional photo albums
  • Converting slides, videos, and other media to digital formats
  • Creating unique photo gifts
  • Implementing digital back-up systems
  • Providing ongoing photo maintenance

Whether you’re looking to have someone teach you how to organize your photos, tackle a project with you, or whisk your photos away and bring them back neat and tidy, photo organizers will work with you to meet your specific needs for each project.

What is APPO?

APPO is a membership organization created to support photo organizers with tools and training in the industry. APPO has more than 500 members, and their annual conference is growing each year. The organization offers a certification program for photo organizers, and they also work to educate the public about the value of photo preservation and storytelling.

How do I find a photo organizer?

Take advantage of APPO’s geographical database of photo organizers. It allows you to search by location, certification, services offered, name, and/or employer. FamilyArc can also pair you with a photo organizer as a part of a Professional Services package.

What’s next?

Before meeting with a photo organizer, evaluate your print and digital photos to get a scope of the size of project and what you’d like to see accomplished. Some photo organizers charge by half or whole day sessions, while others are based on the number of photos or a project-by-project basis.

If you’re anything like me and the thought of sorting through thousands of photos seems a little daunting, I hope you’ll be relieved to know that there are people out there who can’t wait to help you get organized.

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