Photo by Gemma Evans, Unsplash
From Then to Now
Since March 1995, I have been living my purpose as a photo coach—helping families organize photos, safeguard their memories and preserve their family history for future generations. That’s 26 wonderful years of helping preserve memories in photos, videos on cassette and VHS tapes, slides and those old floppy discs. Just think of the changes:
- Remember processing rolls of film and then laying them into photo albums?
- Now we have digital technology that makes lifetime cloud storage a reality.
- We used to print from 24 to 36 pictures on a roll.
- Now we’re taking thousands of digital pictures on vacations, at weddings, or during sports events and thinking, “I’m overwhelmed!”
My business name that many of you know, Photo Solutions with Melody, has adapted with the times and I now offer one digital home where your images are stored for a lifetime in their full resolution.
The business name I use now is a better reflection of my services: Safeguard Your Memories.
Find out why as you journey along with me.
My Story and How I’ve Helped Others
My photo coaching business got started after I had spent 13 years in the banking industry and was then laid off. I had a feeling of being in shock and disoriented. You may know what I’m talking about.
I had a three-year-old, a baby and my husband and I enjoyed having me home with the kids. During the next couple of years, we knew that I had to find something to help with our family’s income and yet we wanted to work around the needs of our children.
Successful businesses get started through an idea and careful planning. Or, we encounter something that clicks inside. That’s what happened to me.
A friend had made a beautiful album for her child who was 3 years old at the time. It caught my attention because the photos displayed life so nicely. I thought, “That’s what I want to do as a business.”
So many enterprises have simple beginnings and mine certainly did. I started one night a week, on Wednesday evenings as the time to help other friends organize their photos.
As the mid-90s evolved into the early 2000s, scrapbooking was popular but that wasn’t for me. I’m not someone who’s great with crafts.
In my banking career, I had trained and mentored people so I adapted my photo coaching business to my strength—I focused on the stories behind the photos.
I took a journaling approach to photo organizing, not a scrapbooking approach. And I believe that’s why my business started growing quickly.
Simple and done. Easy.
My practice was that you didn’t need pictures to represent every moment in life. And you can enjoy the photos without the painstaking work of needing to make the photo album itself a work of art.
Why do I say this?
When you look at a picture, what are you really seeing?
You’re looking at a story that’s unfolding in a specific time and place. That’s the important part.
Focus on your stories
Understand the heart and content of your photos versus trying to make the page look beautiful.
That’s the difference between journaling and scrapbooking.
What is the Craft of Scrapbooking?
Okay, in the old days (which really aren’t that long ago) we’d have printed photos in shoeboxes or envelopes. These were stuffed under nightstands and in attics.
We’d pull them out and sort them into photo albums so that they’d look appealing and attractive. We’d get out the craft scissors that cut fancy edges and then add color paper and stickers.
Creating a scrapbook can be a lot of fun and I’ve got tools to help you, but it can be time consuming and still doesn’t get to the heart of organizing pictures.
Melody’s Method for Arranging Photos: Journaling
I’ve had fun working with so many different families who want to preserve and safeguard their memories. The challenge has always been deciding what photos you should keep. Think of two broad categories:
- Routine slices of life
- Memorialize extraordinary moments
Ask these basic questions like a journalist who’s writing a story:
What … is the picture about?
Who … are the important people in it?
Why … is this a keepsake?
Where … is the location?
When … was it taken?
The Benefits of Journaling Photos
If you could roll out a timeline to mark the growth of you and your family then you’d have a lot of pictures on it, right? With today’s technology, you could have thousands of photos. But that’s not practical, is it?
Trying to capture everything ends up overwhelming us.
Your Goal: Clear the Clutter
Organizing your photos into a lifetime storage system brings peace of mind
When I started, I helped families who had lots of pictures in shoeboxes and or still in the envelopes from the processing center. They had been collected one roll at a time and then piled up because so many other parts of life got in the way of organizing them.
Ever go into your grandparent’s or your parent’s attic or closets and see a pile of unmarked pictures?
You know something valuable is in that pile, but you can’t easily find what’s important.
By 2005, I went on vacation to Hawaii. A client told me to leave my film camera at home and use a digital camera. I did and I had taken 700 photos within 10 days. You can imagine how many thousands of photos we now take and then we don’t even bother to look at them again.
Let’s clear that clutter by journaling.
Journaling brings all those pictures into an organized whole and that reduces the nitpicking anxious feelings that stay with us.
Use This Helpful tip
There’s another truth I’ve discovered during these nearly three decades of photo coaching:
Don’t try and save every picture you take—especially in this digital age. Delete unnecessary photos right away.
Keeping everything isn’t worth the effort.
Take and save those images that best represent a fun moment on a family vacation, the memory of an older relative and the life they lived, a sports season or a professional milestone.
The memory bank inside our minds can fill in many of the other moments that create memories.
Your Goal: Ensure Your Photos will Last
By 2013, 90% of my photo coaching business was digital. Since it’s so easy to take pictures, there’s now more clutter to clear than ever before. Many of us in the sandwich generation are caught between hard copy photos in albums and envelopes and countless digital pictures.
Journaling your photos is like having photo insurance.
People often come to me because something has happened like a house fire, their computer crashed or there was a death in their family. Downsizing a home or getting ready for a memorial service sparks the need to organize photos.
Dealing with pictures can be difficult to manage. But done the right way, you can have a system for life.
It may take us a few hours to get started and I can help you through each step as you need. Or I can show you the system if you want to take off with it and get organized on your own.
Organizing Photos with Today’s Storage Technology
Storing photos for the long term has become more convenient than ever. In the past, I was teaching how to back up on double external hard drives. In 2014, I started an in-home scanning system with a top-of-the-line scanner.
External hard drives are still good but during the last few years I’ve made use of permanent cloud storage and now offer a one-stop digital home.
That’s why I truly “safeguard your memories.”
The cloud storage system that I provide guarantees a lifetime of storage plus at least 100 years so you can put your photos and videos in your will for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Pictures reveal our personal growth, family history and provide a connection with our identity. So we don’t want to lose that. Yet passing photo albums from one generation to another is awkward and difficult. Eventually, hard copies are going to get damaged or lost.
Organize Your Photos for Peace of Mind
A Psychology Today article, Why Being Organized Matters, notes that we simply think more clearly because we have less anxiety when we’re not surrounded by clutter. Something as personal as memories contained through our photos can leave us on edge if we’re not sure what photos we have and where we’ve put them—even if they’re on a hard drive.
Once you begin using my system, you’ll find that it’s easy to maintain so you have confidence in knowing what photos to keep and what photos to delete. This puts you in charge of your surroundings and that’s a good feeling to have.
How can I Help You?
I’ll be glad to have a brief conversation, usually up to a half hour, just to learn about your needs and I’ll show you easy ways to get started.
Arranging your photos and keeping them safe doesn’t just mean going through the hard work of organizing. Let’s make it fun, memorable and a part of life that brings comfort to you and your family.