Cari Dawson joins us from Cari’s Custom Organizing in Los Angeles, California…
Share your story about how you became a photo organizer…
I started Cari’s Custom Organizing as a residential Professional Organizer in 2009, and worked on a few of my client’s photo collections when we would come across them. I knew I loved working with photos, and when I heard Cathi speak at the 2011 NAPO Conference, I knew it was the right specialty for me. I had always enjoyed working with my own family photos, and had been making photo albums and photo books for years.
Primary services and which do you most enjoy?
My specialty is digital photo organizing – both remotely and on-site. I also enjoy virtual organizing for my clients that just need to be talked through the steps needed for their digital photo challenges.
How did you find APPO and how long have you been a member?
I joined APPO in 2012 and became certified at the end of 2012. I have been lucky enough to be able to attend all three APPO Conferences.
Favorite tool or vendor you use for photo organizing?
The legacy box is my favorite tool for paper photos. I really love how sturdy it is, and the interior boxes are perfect for organizing. For digital photos I believe in very simple organization that can cross all platforms, so I don’t usually use any fancy software other than whatever my client is already using (if it works for them). I prefer to just create a simple file structure for photos. The tools I use are Dropbox, Lightroom, Photoshop, Photo Sweeper, and Team Viewer. I am a Mac user, but I organize on any system. I do offer scanning services, and I use my Kodak PS50, my Epson Perfection V600 Photo, and my FlipPal. I have a dedicated Dell laptop that travels with my PS50.
What is a big (or small) mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
One thing that I constantly remind myself is the importance of creating the relationship with my client right away. I always encourage booking the first session before we get into too many details of the scope of the job (and therefore the cost). I need to get to know my client first, so that I know how to present the information. For some people, one step at a time is best.
Best client success story…
I was organizing a garage for a residential client, and we came across a small box of photos. In the box was a small crumpled photo. I showed it to my client and he looked like he was going to cry. He said that was the only photo of his Grandpa that he knew of. I was so happy to be able to take the photo and have it restored for him. He was thrilled to find that photo and have it saved, and to be able to share it with his family. It is the little things like that that make me happy.
What is your favorite family tradition?
Family is everything to me. I have a very close family, and we spend as much time together as possible. For the past few years, my parents have been taking us all on an amazing annual trip together. We have been able to see some incredible foreign countries, and to have this experience with all 15 of us, and share it with my parents, is the most special thing I can imagine. We are very lucky.
If you weren’t a photo organizer, what would you be doing instead?
I am currently a Financial Organizer and a Photo Organizer. If I were not offering photo services, I would probably just be a Financial Organizer. I do love working on finances, but it doesn’t allow me to work with my fabulous photo clients. This job is filled with caring people and love and family. I feel privileged to be able to enjoy my client’s photo collections with them.
Are your own photos organized?
I have always loved making photo books, so each year I make a family photo book as well as a small book for each of my boys. Prior to digital, I always put my photos in albums, and I am slowly working my way through those albums to scan my favorite photos. So I guess you could say, it is a work in progress. But I will confess that I have not done my own wedding album. I did the parent albums, but for some reason the photos and the empty album are still waiting for me to do my own.
Best tip for a new photo organizer…what you wish someone would have told you sooner?
I spent a lot of time in the beginning trying to learn every aspect of photo organizing, and there is just so much to learn and to keep up to date on. I highly recommend picking what you love and specializing in just those services. One of the great things about APPO is that we can partner with other Photo Organizers in our area so that we can always have every service available to our clients without having to do it all ourselves.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
Take advantage of APPO and all the amazing people and resources that are available. We don’t have to do this alone!
Say hi to Cari in the comments below and share something you learned from her interview…