Bonnie Hillman Shay joins us from Mariposa Creative Solutions in Highland Park, Illinois…
Share your story about how you became a photo organizer…
After my former husband and I decided to divorce, I needed to find a new career since he and I had a photography business together (he is a photographer and I managed the business side of things.) I initially started out as a General Organizer, but when my first client showed me boxes and boxes of loose photos and asked if I could help her, a specialty was born! That was almost 8 years ago.
Primary services and which do you most enjoy?
Organizing printed photos and organizing digital photos. I recently purchased my own scanners, so I am now offering scanning in house instead of outsourcing.
I most enjoy the boxes and boxes of mixed up photos. I’m a detective at heart and I love putting photos in chronological order, getting to know the family members and building their story. To the client it is magic and it is so gratifying to have them so happy and astounded at the results, especially making order out of chaos! Also it is so moving to reconnect my clients with the memories that they haven’t been in touch with. It is fun to travel down memory lane with my clients.
How did you find APPO and how long have you been a member?
I believe I stumbled on APPO while searching the internet . I have been a member for almost 3.5 years and was fortunate to attend the first APPO Conference in Chicago in February of 2013. I was hooked!
Favorite tool or vendor you use for photo organizing?
I like Picasa for facial recognition functionality, but unfortunately it doesn’t transfer easily to other software management programs. Hopefully other photo management programs (e.g., Mylio) will soon catch up with such functionality. It is magic!
My favorite tool to recommend to clients is Picture Keeper.
What is a big (or small) mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
Not being comfortable with the business side of being a photo organizer. Luckily I have always been paid for my time, but I didn’t always communicate directly to my clients how much it was going to cost and they had a little sticker shock.
Best client success story…
Working with a client (who found me on the internet thank you to APPO’s website) on a weekly basis organizing her family’s photo collection. We worked side by side, traveling down memory lane together and curating her family’s story. She and her husband have 4 daughters and 10 grandchildren, so leaving a legacy was a big part of her motivation. Once we were done with organizing and scanning her photos, I put her in touch with a Family Legacy Film maker who they hired to conduct interviews with family members and produce 5 different family films for various branches of the family. To contribute to that effort, we had 40 reels of family movies from 1940-1975 converted so that video clips could be included in the films. Of course many of the photos I had scanned were also incorporated in to the films. It was a bonus to collaborate with another professional and gifting my client with such fabulous results.
Two sisters seven years apart, two airports and fourteen years’ time gone by.
What is your favorite family tradition?
Having family gatherings on holidays or any day of the year and playing games. Nothing like fun and laughter to build the memory bank.
If you weren’t a photo organizer, what would you be doing instead?
An architect. Total fantasy, but I have always been intrigued with architects and what they do.
Are your own photos organized?
Relatively, though with Mylio I’m having more fun and reason to organize my photos to learn the software.
Best tip for a new photo organizer…what you wish someone would have told you sooner?
Set up systems and workflows so that you have a process to follow for each client rather than starting from scratch each time. Keep good records of where you are in a client’s process, especially when you start juggling multiple clients. Get involved in APPO and any other appropriate groups to learn and share with colleagues. We learn so much from each other and you don’t have to go it alone.
Anything else you want us to know?
Present your services as an opportunity for your client to reconnect with their story and memories and enjoy the journey. So many people have “organizing their photos” on their to do list that they look at it as a chore, rather than an event in and of itself that could be enjoyed.
Say hi to Bonnie in the comments below and share something you learned from her interview!