Heritage Books for the Holidays

As we headed into fall I found myself creating heritage books for several clients for holiday gifts. What is a heritage book? Unlike a traditional photo book documenting your year or vacation, a heritage book documents your family history. I usually try to include multiple generations of family photos and the content can be grouped in a variety of ways including by family (mother’s side, father’s side) or by event (weddings, military service, school) across generations.

The wonderful thing about these books is having your entire family appear right in front of you. Pictures that usually sit in boxes or tubs in a basement are now front and center to enjoy. I love being able to see how a current family member’s baby picture looks so similar to a relative several generations back! I’ll include old school papers, drawings from art class, even cutouts of dogs or paper dolls that have been carefully preserved over time. I’ve scanned varsity letters and mortar board tassels to supplement those graduation photos. Newspaper announcements, invitations and cards also add details to the collection.

Depending on the service request from the client, I sometimes include genealogy information. I like to use an illustrated tree to then note the various generations with birth and death dates. I’ll use a snapshot of a really interesting census record or note generations of occupations in a family (farmer to line worker to office manager to attorney!).

The other aspect of having a heritage book in hand is watching how kids take an interest in them. There is always a “family tree” topic in elementary schools and I know for my own children they enjoyed simply grabbing the heritage book and flipping through their history (again and again!).

To bring a heritage book to life it starts with photo organization. Acquiring and sorting through these old photos takes effort. It is helpful to have a personal photo organizer supporting the process and selecting those pictures that really tell the story. Sometimes themes will come to life when looking through these curated collections.  

As families gather for the holidays, think about asking everyone to bring their old photos with them to start building a complete family history. What a gift to give next holiday season...a digital collection of these preserved photos, and a beautiful heritage book to enjoy!

Want to kick off the new year with an organized photo collection? Contact me for your free 30-minute consultation!

Overwhelmed When Getting Organized

Recently I was talking with a great business and speaking coach about how interesting (and needed) photo organizing is. If it was easy everyone would be organized! But with the confluence of inherited print photos from parents and unlimited digital photos in our own lives, I find clients feel overwhelmed.

But what are we talking about when we say overwhelmed? My colleagues and I use this term frequently but I had the chance to break it down a bit more. Clients are overwhelmed:

By physical scale – when getting organized it is best to bring all of the photos together to create a plan of attack. This alone can be daunting.

By emotional impact – for just about anyone reviewing family photos this can bring on a host of emotions from joy reliving those special occasions to pain and sadness that loved ones pictured are no longer with us.

By lacking direction – when you are so emotionally tied to these collections it is challenging to take a step back and become more clinical in deciding what to tackle. 

I believe diving deeper into this understanding of how my clients (and potential clients) could be experiencing a sense of overwhelm helps me help them. My goal is to provide joy, connection and relief for you and your family--around your photos!

Feeling overwhelmed? Contact me for your free 30-minute consultation to tackle your photos!

Moving Towards a Digital Collection - Step 3

Although it takes some time, you are moving forward towards your digital collection. WELL DONE! Now let's talk about the last step in getting ready to go digital. Putting all of the pieces together.

If you have both the albums you have tagged for the BEST photos and the trays/boxes of loose photos sorted by year, you will want to take one more pass in sorting. Are your loose photos duplicates of what are in your albums? Have you inherited other loose photos that make sense to be integrated into the best photos from your albums? We can put these questions to rest and know we have a complete collection with this last comparison.

Pull the albums that correspond with your trays (if by year). Flip through the loose photos and find the corresponding album pages. Are the best ones in the albums? Then you can consider moving the loose photos to an ultimate discard pile (this may be another tray or box for now -- realize you may not want to discard these yet). Find other loose photos that complement the ones already selected in the album? Slip them into the pages or keep an envelope to collect these in and tuck into the album for reference.

Do you have albums by event (vacations, birthdays, holidays)? This will take an extra step of sifting through the loose photos and pulling out the corresponding event. Once you have them collected you are ready to do the comparison outlined above.

This may seem to be the toughest step of all. It can be a lot of content and a bit more time consuming. But remember you are driving towards that complete collection of the BEST photos.  Again, tap into family, friends and kids to help with this review. Know that you are taking the third and final step in keeping your memories alive for future generations!

Want that digital collection but don’t have the time to invest? Contact me for your free 30-minute consultation to determine if using a professional will get you to your goals in time for the holidays!

Moving Towards a Digital Collection - Step 2

So you have taken the first step in moving towards a digital collection of photos and selected the best of the best from your albums and scrapbooks. CONGRATULATIONS! Hopefully this was an enjoyable process and allowed you to share memories with family and friends.

Next, the dreaded boxes, bags and piles of photos. This is the single most overwhelming aspect for my clients, how to filter through them all. However this activity can be broken down as well.

First - I suggest getting some simple boxes or trays to group photos in. Foil bread or brownie (or turkey!) trays from the grocery store can work well. You want to have one for every decade you think you pile covers. Have images from the 1970s and 1980s - maybe 2 to 4 trays will suffice. Label each one by decade (or 5 years if you have a lot of photos). Just a year range written on a large sticky note is enough for labeling.  

Second - you don’t want to spend a ton of time reviewing EVERY photo. This is the secret photo organizers keep so that their workflows work quickly. You are only looking for date information (on a photo pack or back of photos) and placing the photo(s) in the correct tray. If you pause to go down memory lane, just realize this task will take much more time and can become exhausting. Often flipping the photos over and working from the backs first (where dates are available) can speed up this process.

Third - determine if any duplicates are worth keeping for another use - you don’t want to pay to digitize the same photo twice! Many times I see the full strip of small school photo wallets alongside the larger 8x10 photos. Digitizing the 8x10 is better, if you don’t need those little wallets let them go.

Finally - once your photos are sorted collect them into these date groupings for future review. You can put the clear lid that is sold with the foil trays over the entire collection or transfer into boxes or small tubs (your preference).

Still feel like this is a huge project? Involve others - family, friends, kids, grandkids. If they can read a date they can sort! Leave the mystery photos to the family and friends who may remember the events more clearly. Know that you are taking the second step in keeping your memories alive for future generations!

Is your print collection overwhelming? Contact me for your free 30-minute consultation to determine if using a professional will relieve that stress and allow you to enjoy your collection.  

Moving Towards a Digital Collection - Step 1

More and more I’m working with clients who want to digitize their photo collection for backup, space, and ease of use. Whether you have boxes and boxes of loose photos or all those binders of sticky/magnetic sheets, the shift to digital can be overwhelming.

The best approach is to organize the physical BEFORE going digital so you don’t replicate chaos in your collection. I love to help others break this approach down into manageable chunks. Let’s start with your album collection!

Do you have lots of binders of magnetic sheet albums (the clear cover over sticky pages)? What about all of those scrapbooks that you (or someone else) spent so much time on? As much as we enjoy them, they take up a LOT of room and are difficult to share with any family and friends that are not local.

The first thing you can do is review these books with one thought in mind - which pictures are the BEST? We printed a lot of photos particularly in the 1970s and 1980s but not all were winners. Time to curate so every photo you save is the one that tells the story. I suggest clients sit with a book and a pad of small sticky notes. Any photo you absolutely want to save as digital, put the sticky note over the photo on the protective cover.

When you are finished with a book, this activity will help you in two ways:

1 - Take a look at all of the sticky notes you have applied (not necessarily the pictures underneath). Does this seem like too many photos? Not enough photos for your digital collection?

2 - Take a pass over the remaining photos (not covered with a sticky note). Did any go by unnoticed? Do you feel comfortable in leaving them out of your digital collection?

Taking this first step will propel you forward in your digital collection goals. Make it fun by reviewing an album with a friend or relative or at a family gathering. Make annotations on the sticky note of date, location, people (if you don’t have that captured already). Know that you are taking the first step in keeping your memories alive for future generations!

Not sure what your digital library could be at the end of your efforts? Contact me for your free 30-minute consultation to understand that future photo collection.

Are Your Photos Future-Proofed?

One of the photo organizers “best practices” is looking at digital photo storage and developing a 3-pronged solution. Many people like to keep their photos on their computer hard drive, but as soon as that hard drive goes bad, the photos are lost. We suggest to clients something like this:

  1.  hard drive
  2. external hard drive
  3. cloud

 For me, we are fortunate to have a home server solution (we are extreme geek in our house) so I had already accomplished the first two steps:

  1. hard drive (our server)
  2. external hard drive (server backup)
  3.  ?

However step 3 always alluded me. Cloud solutions have changed dramatically over the years from the integrated Apple-based solutions to free-for all Google and Dropbox solutions. Cloud storage can be really tricky if you are unfamiliar with these options. Many are not set up to handle the bulk of high-resolution digital photos nor support a standardized file structure. There can also be limits to how much (in GB) you house in the cloud. For some people, they have also had the terrible experience of having their cloud provider simply shut down (usually without much notification and losing their photos as a result). Digital rights has also become a hot topic (who really has access to the photos and photo content you are posting) but that is an entirely separate blog coming soon.

Doesn't this sound frustrating? Most of my clients do want to share their photos through the cloud with family members but don’t know where to go. I have finally solved my step 3 dilemma with Forever - a cloud storage solution that is built for storing and sharing photo files. Some of the benefits that I was thrilled to take advantage of include:

  • Account is your permanent digital home
  • Guaranteed for your lifetime plus 100 years
  • Permanently store original full resolution images
  • Supported filetypes: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PDF
  • Content triple backed up, encrypted & secure
  • Connect, share with, honor friends & family
  • Digital file migration to new file formats over time
  • Goal to last many generations beyond the Guarantee

My photos can safely reside here, it is a private cloud so I control who accesses my photos, and Forever’s business model is to continue to make my collection relevant no matter what digital file formats may come around.

Now am I posting absolutely every photo I have to Forever? No. Server storage and the external hard drive backup are extremely cost-effective options that allow me to unload an entire set of event photos (from our camera and various phones) in one place. From there I update the file names from the default camera names to follow the photo organizer file name best practices. Finally, I indicate (through tagging) the best of the best photos that I will ultimately use in a photo book, calendar, wall hanging or other option. Only those curated photos then go into Forever for backup and sharing.

I definitely experienced a sense of relief having accomplished step 3. I’m also thrilled to not be the only “keeper of the photos” but able to share these digital albums with family. Forever offers many other services to make the best use of your photo collection, however it is the simple archiving that helps me complete my backup solution!

Does organizing, renaming and uploading sound like a chore? Want to get there faster? Contact me for a free 30 minute assessment and we can form a plan to determine your digital photo backup solution.

 TurningLeaf CurationServices is a proud affiliate of Forever.

Slide Mystery

The more people I talk to the more we all bemoan the big photo trend from the 1960s and 1970s...slides! We all have that box of slides still in the round carousel or rectangular trays. Unfortunately these take up a lot of room and are not the easiest to enjoy. Adding to the complexity it is even more difficult to transfer them to something more accessible, like a digital file.

As I continue to learn more about photo preservation, I set myself on a mission to get our family’s slides under control. I leveraged a terrific 35mm slide storage system called “box-within-a-box-within-a-box” by Archival Methods. Setting aside one Sunday to just organize, it didn’t take too much time to go from mess to organized with a solution that does not take up much room.

Although I was interested in getting this collection under control from a space-saving perspective, I originally was not all that interested in immediately converting the images to digital files because they were mostly travel photos (from before I was born!). However, as I slotted the slides into the little slide trays, I began to see pictures of myself in my early years...photos that I don’t recall ever seeing before!

This led me to set aside some slides for digitizing and incorporating into our family photo books. To do this there are several scanning options from sending slides to a scanning service to DYI by renting equipment. I’m excited to bring to life additional images that I’m sure the entire family has forgotten about until now.

My expansive collection of slides is now turning into a compact storage system with at least 3 photo books in the works. I can’t wait to share these with my family!

That box, bin or closet full of slides beginning to be too much for you? Want to start enjoying the photos you are missing? Contact me for a free 30 min assessment and we can form a plan to digitize your slides and find out what memories you have forgotten!


Digital Anxiety

Do you suffer from digital anxiety? Do have that drawer, box, baggie that all of your camera cards, photo CDs and memory sticks gather in? Does it seem like they are multiplying?

On a recent visit with a close friend that I haven’t seen in person for several years, I touched on what I do for a living. I immediately saw the digital anxiety rise in her face and in her voice. “I’m worried about my digital photos” she claimed. Having gone through a difficult divorce, she had a camera bag full of camera cards and CDs but had no idea what was on them. She wasn’t sure if she had the right tools to access the cards, and she had NO IDEA if the infant pictures of her two lovely daughters were on the cards or in the hands of her ex on a hard drive somewhere.

My friend loathed the idea of having to ask him to look for these images, and yet they were critically important to her...her daughters were already 8 and the time is flying! So I took the baggie of cards and CDs back to organize for her.

In no time we found she had nearly a decade of digital photos covering almost every month of the year...and cover her past all the way back to pre-marriage, pre-kids. And YES the infant photos were there as well! I felt such joy assembling one external hard drive of everything she wanted to access, knowing all she had to do was plug in the USB cable and everything she was looking for was right there.

As a mom and a family historian, I experience the relief for my clients before they do as I assemble their digital history in one, easily-accessible place. I was overjoyed to pass that relief on to my client and my friend!



Summing up that Sport

In the last six months, both my children marked major milestones:

  • Ethan (age 9) became a first degree black belt in Taekwondo

  • Morgan (age 13) became a second degree black belt in Taekwondo

We have celebrated each milestone in their progress toward their black belts, and have the “belt towers” to commemorate these steps. However as they step back, I felt it was important to have something tangible as a point of pride, something to share with others “hey I did it!”. For each, I made them an 8x8 album.

Looking back on their early days as white belts (they look so young!) they are clearly eager to learn about this ancient tradition and it’s place in today’s world. As they moved forward they understood more about leadership, compassion, responsibility and respect. Ethan responds to many requests at our house with “Yes Ma'am or Yes Sir!” Morgan leverages her boost in confidence born of being selected as a student instructor.

The amount of practice and dedication they both exhibited toward their goals is commendable at their young age. Both felt after several years of this hard work it was time “retire” (they can go back at any time) to pursue new interests. For Ethan that is basketball and guitar, for Morgan that is silks. However their accomplishments shouldn’t be forgotten, and more importantly should be easy to share. These simple photo books help them do that!

Does your child participate in an activity that you want to commemorate? Contact me for your free 30-minute phone consultation.


Small Gift from the Heart

For many friends my age, we find it challenging to select the right gift for our parents. They don’t seem to need anything so birthdays, Father’s day and more are a challenge.

One year I was flipping through some old black and white photographs of downtown Columbus Ohio that my husband’s Grandfather had taken in the 1930s. We decided to go out on a sunny day and shoot those same urban scenes today. I printed and placed those photos side by side in a small album.

I gave this album to my Dad one Father’s Day. As a lifelong resident of Columbus and a business owner in the construction industry, he was intimately familiar with most buildings downtown. This simple gift was an instant hit and for months he carried that album in his briefcase sharing it with other longtime construction colleagues.

This little album didn’t take long to create and didn’t cost much. Today digital photo books make it even easier to assemble. But the value to the recipient is priceless.

Do you have someone special with an interest you would like to bring to life? Contact me for your free 30 minute phone consultation and let’s see what we can create!



New Year Old Mess?

When the holidays are over I always feel a sense of organization returning, putting things back where they belong when the decorations come down. It’s a chance to fluff up, dust off, and refresh each room just a little bit (not the heavy-duty spring cleaning that comes later in the year!). It’s also that time to reset and get the steps in place to get in shape.

Do you feel you are ready to dust off and refresh those digital pictures from last year? When I talk about photo organizing, many people are put off by the sheer effort of trying to get their digital memories in shape. When they think about 2016 and the number of devices, digital cards, websites, flash drives that all of their digital content lives on, it’s enough to reach for the last of the holiday cookies.

Never fear, digital organization is one of the quickest ways to get your memories in shape. Once organized, the possibilities open up for some photo books, albums, 2017 calendars, slideshows, and more. What's the best part? You don't have to get anything "ready" for an organizer to help you out. We are used to mess...it's okay! 

Want to get started? Contact me for your free 30-minute phone consultation where we will discuss 2016 as you remember it, and how you would like to see it!


Get Sorting...Get Organizing in Three Simple Steps!

One of the greatest joys I receive in helping people with their photos is providing relief for clients  when we develop a strategy to tackle their memories. I’ve heard sighs of relief and expressions of gratitude for just developing a strategy (without touching a single photo). Regardless if your photos are in boxes a prints or slides, or on hard drives or devices, feeling overwhelmed is common. By focusing in on a smaller chunk of work, you can begin the organizing process for yourself. Do you think your pile is impossible? Try these three simple steps.

First ask yourself:

  • What would organized photos look like (boxed neatly, scanned, organized digital folders)?
  • If my photos were all organized what would I do with them (frame some, put in an album, make a book)?
  • How would others enjoy my photos (walking past pictures, flipping through pages, watching a slide show)?

Second, once you have this vision, determine if there is a year or topic or event that is exceptionally meaningful for you:

  • Would you like to have all of your son’s soccer photos in one book showcasing his efforts from elementary school to high school?
  • Would you want a beautiful digital slide show of your fabulous vacation set to music?
  • Would you want to pull out the last 5 years of family group photos and hang them on your wall?

Finally, start small. Pull only the photos that fit this goal out of your boxes or off your devices. Afraid of getting sidetracked by other images? See if a child or friend can help. Ask them to find every photo that has a soccer uniform or soccer ball in it. Make it a game. Once you have your images, quickly sort through and put aside any that are not worth working with (blurry, out of frame, duplicate).

Now you have a selection of images ready to move forward towards your vision. Need someone to digitize, organize, produce or publish these images? Contact me for your free 30-minute phone consultation.


Sharing Memories

The transition from summer to fall is one of my favorites of the year. As a kid summer meant riding horses, swimming (a lot) and loads of time cutting grass. Moving into fall meant sweatshirts, crisp leaves, playing at the park, and still cutting grass. How do I remember this? I have pictures.


The last couple of summers-into-fall have been a bit different. As the temperatures change I reflect on fond memories, then I pull down an album or photo book to take to my Mom--as she suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's. While older memories are readily available to her, the more recent seasons with family and grandkids are not.

Dropping off a recent photo book, or an old family album brings her more joy than any other gift could. Events from my childhood she can recall and laugh about. More recent events with my siblings or children she looks at with a smile...she knows the faces even if she can’t remember all the details.

While she enjoys flipping through those formal wedding albums and other key events, she seems to take pleasure in what I call the “everyday” albums -- the ones that capture little events in the course of a year, the ones that include my kids’ artwork and certificates (digitized and included).

We didn’t see the Alzheimer's coming, but I am thankful that I have always enjoyed photos and memorabilia, that I find it rewarding to pull those items together in a book that can be shared. Now we have a “family library” of her images and mine that she checks out and keeps for weeks, to revisit all the times in her life--as well as the lives in the the generations after her.

Are you overwhelmed by photos from that recent wedding or graduation? Not sure where to start? Let’s talk! Contact me for a free 30 min assessment and we can form a plan to digitize your photos, tackle your memorabilia, and bring your stories out for you to share.



Attic Treasures

When I was 11 years old I thought it was really cool when my parents pulled that just-out-of-reach cord and pulled down the ladder that led to our garage attic. As a small child I never made it past one or two rungs on the ladder going up--it just seemed so high. But at 11 years old, we were moving and it was time to go up and figure out what was sitting in this garage attic.

My mom and I headed up one early summer morning (before it got too hot). Crouched almost in half, we looked around at the mishmash of boxes, old appliances, tools and other assorted bits spread out across planks laying over the rafters. My Mom immediately zeroed in on a pile of boxes labeled with her handwriting. Before we could start evaluating the entire storage situation, she had pulled the lids off, sat down, and started revisiting old memories. These boxes contained all kinds of items I had never seen before...the cloth napkin from the fancy restaurant she and my dad went to for prom, porcelain dogs wrapped in faded newspaper (she apparently collected as a teen), old photos that she inherited from her parent’s move years before. As I sat with her listening to explanations of items, two thoughts kept swirling…

  • Why have I never seen this stuff before?

  • Why do we have to sit in a dusty, stale attic to enjoy these things?

These two questions stayed with me as I established home after home in my adult life and now the home with my husband and our children. Photos and other memorabilia should be easily accessible, and it should be something I can easily share with family, friends, and my children.

I believe having these items handy when a story comes up, helps my children understand who I was growing up, who my husband was, what our families were like, what the times were like, and ever more, what their grandparents  and other family members and friends were like “way back when.” It’s a challenge to try to store everything thing we treasure, but why not take pictures of those items and make a book, tell a story, and share those memories without climbing a ladder or dusting off a box? Whether you keep the items as well, or part with them and keep the book close, pulling together photos and memorabilia is a great way to quickly call up a story...whenever you want to share.

Are your memories tucked away in a basement or attic? Not sure where to start? Let’s talk! Contact me for a free 30 min assessment and we can form a plan to digitize your photos, tackle your memorabilia, and bring your stories out for you to share.


World Photo Day

Have you ever seen an image that takes your breath away? Is it a landscape? A portrait? An amazing active shot? Something that captures a treasured memory for you?


If you can say yes to any question above, then I’m happy to share with you World Photo Day --coming August 19, 2016. This day is all about celebrating the joy and power of photography. Founded in 2009 and based on the anniversary of the Daguerreotype as the first practical photo process, World Photo Day is a great day to think about and appreciate all of the great photography in your life.

Do photos in your life overwhelm you? Are they spread across all of your digital devices? Do you have boxes of prints in your basement or attic, closet or under the bed that cause more stress than joy? World Photo Day is a great day to get focused and make a plan in 3 easy steps:


How many boxes of printed photos do you have?

Approximately how many digital images do you have?


Would you rather have printed photos in digital form?

Would you prefer your digital images are easy to search and retrieve while safely backed up?


Reach out to a Personal Photo Organizer to get more information on digitizing photos, organizing files and securely backing up these treasured memories.

World Photo Day brings attention to a medium that triggers memories, stories, and sharing. Take the steps you need to make these memories, stories and opportunities for sharing easy and enjoyable.

Click on the World Photo Day banner above for more information. 

Have you answered questions one and two. Ready to move ahead? Let’s talk! Contact me for a free 30 minute assessment and we can form a plan to digitize your photos, tackle your memorabilia, and bring your stories out for you to share.