Laura Woolsey joins us from Memory Forward in Austin, Texas…
Share your story about how you became a photo organizer…
I come from a family of very prolific photo-takers and over-the-top perfectionists. From a very early age, I was sitting at the dining room table, hand writing the dates and names of those pictured on the backs of thousands of photos and organizing them into albums–one for each of the three siblings and one for my parents! I also enjoyed keeping a video library of the hundreds of movies we recorded from HBO on VHS tape — the run time, a magazine clipping of the movie, and the number of the tape it was on, all organized in a video cabinet. I turned this head for data management into a computer science degree and a successful career as a web developer and data analyst, but when I spent 6 months helping my parents declutter a garage filled to the top with memorabilia and junk and convert it into a renovated living space, I realized I had a joy for organizing as well! I discovered NAPO about 10 years ago after that experience and had a short run as a full-service organizer, but soon after decided to specialize in photo organization while continuing to work as a web developer. All these years later, I am a full-time photo organizer and I am in love with my job, which so beautifully combines all of my passions — photos and storytelling, problem solving, organization, and managing data!
Primary services and which do you most enjoy?
I primarily love to scan entire collections of photos, adding keywords and dates to make the photos meaningful and easy to search and turn into stories. The scanning itself is especially fun for me because I think that taking something physical and turning it into something digital with endless possibilities is just so cool!
How did you find APPO and how long have you been a member?
I came across APPO a few years ago, long after my photo organizing business had already been established. It was validating to learn that many others were performing services like mine, but because a large part of my time was still being spent as a programmer, I didn’t take the initiative to join. About a year ago, I took the plunge and have been so thrilled that I did!
Favorite tool or vendor you use for photo organizing?
By far my favorite tool is Mylio! It has solved so many of the big problems clients face today — it is platform independent, it allows you to structure your photos in folders in the way *you* want to without obscuring the photos in a database format, and it synchronizes so easily across all devices.
What is a big (or small) mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
Not joining APPO sooner has been my biggest mistake. I did not recognize how important the sense of community would be to me, or I would have joined the day I learned about it! My services and income have expanded because of the knowledge I’ve gained through this group and the relationship we have with our wonderful partners. Attending conference and accessing the facebook board regularly has helped me to establish new friendships and business relationships that I would not have thought possible a year ago!
Best client success story…
My best success has been with my client Margaret — she has been using my services for two+ years. We have organized and scanned not only her family’s estate photos and memorabilia, but also all of her “modern” family photos of her nuclear family. She has been a joy to work with and has been so thrilled with the digital organization and ease of access to all her photos. She also loves to look through her original prints, so the boxed system I gave her allows her to re-visit these photos whenever she feels the urge!
What is your favorite family tradition?
On Christmas Day, my two siblings and I all juggle the fruit from our stockings (apple, orange, tangerine). We all three learned to juggle as little kids and started this tradition that has continued to this day. If there was a synchronized Christmas fruit juggling competition, we’d have the photos to prove we are the clear winners. 🙂
If you weren’t a photo organizer, what would you be doing instead?
I’d still be programming web software! And I would not be nearly as happy with my job. 🙂
Are your own photos organized?
Yes and no — my digital photos are in appropriately named folders for the most part, and I’ve tagged favorites along the way, but I still have a huge project on the horizon in getting my old printed photos scanned and organized. My goal is to start a tradition this year of creating annual family albums for my own family and my extended family as well.
Best tip for a new photo organizer…what you wish someone would have told you sooner?
Charge consistently and charge enough! Don’t underestimate your overhead expenses and investment you’re making in equipment, training, or other startup costs. You are providing an invaluable service and your rates should be calculated based on all these factors!
Say hi to Laura in the comments below and share something you learned from her interview…
P.S. Check out our brand new Master Training Mylio 101 that is now available for purchase! Laura shares how she uses her favorite new tool when working with a client’s digital photo collection.