We all have a desire to remember and share our stories. Some of us choose to do that by scrapbooking with our photos. In this episode I’m chatting with Cathi Nelson of The Photo Managers about the real value of an organized photo library. Our conversation includes permission to break the “rules” and practical advice for moving forward.
- The Photo Managers
- The Photo Managers Conference
- The Photo Managers on YouTube
- Photo Organizing Made Easy book (*)
- A Business Roadmap for Professional Photo Organizers (*)
- Sharon Wunder’s journey
- Photo Sweeper
- RootsTech Conference
*Affiliate links help to support the work we do, at no additional cost to you.
[00:01:05] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 242. In this episode I’m chatting with Cathi Nelson, founder of The Photo Managers, a trade organization for photo management professionals. In our conversation Cathi shares her roots in traditional scrapbooking as well as her some of her philosophy on how to manage our modern-day photo libraries with ease.
[00:01:40] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Cathi. Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.
[00:01:42] Cathi Nelson: Oh, I am thrilled to be here today.
[00:01:43] Jennifer Wilson: I am looking forward to our conversation as well. Uh, but first, can you share a little bit about yourself?
[00:01:49] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. My name is Cathi Nelson. I live in West Hartford, Connecticut. And I am the CEO and founder of the Photo Managers. Which was founded, I can't believe it's been 15 years. We'll talk a little bit more about that, but I have been a avid, scrap before that, avid scrapbooker and memory keeper. Probably from as long as I can remember. But long before people were using those words and, uh, describing people that way. I'm a mom of two kids, a son who just got married, so that's been a big change in life.
[00:02:16] Jennifer Wilson: Congrats.
[00:02:17] Cathi Nelson: Uh, they're both young adults, so they're on their own and I guess more of an empty nester these days. So I have two dogs and a cat and a husband.
[00:02:28] Jennifer Wilson: They always get love for last, don't they? Um, you know what's so interesting is that I started Simple Scrapper in November of 2008. So we're same with the 15 years. It's kind of crazy. I think that was a really special time in like shifts in the internet and, and all of that.
[00:02:45] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. Oh, we could talk. Yeah. I'm surprised. I kind of left scrapbooking and you started That's amazing. Yeah.
[00:02:52] Jennifer Wilson: So Cathi, what's exciting you right now, we love to hear from our guests both what's going on in their lives as well as in their memory keeping, crafting, creative worlds.
[00:03:02] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, I think, well, for me, I. thought about that question. I guess, um, it is somewhat business related. But in the organization that I'm a founder of, we have, uh, so members actually take people's photo collections and put them in order and do all the work for them. And one of the exciting areas that has really taken on a life as of its own is something called helping people create legacy, legacy albums, legacy stories. I mean, it's, that word is in a new word, but within our organization, there's a member who has, is dying of a glioblastoma brain tumor. And she, uh, it sounds really sad, but at the same time it's been really powerful to watch Sharon, kind of create this vision for the future and her desire to help people acknowledge loss and what's happening in their lives. And her creating, um, the documenting her life story for her own children when she passes. And it's just kind of really built up. There's been a, she donated money for a scholarship to our conference. And then other people are donating and it's just, I'm really excited about the commitment and the, and the realization of the need for that in within our organization. But also I think in the world as a whole. Of how important it is to share our family stories and tell these stories and create that, that we all have a legacy.
[00:04:12] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yes. That's so, it's so powerful and I'm so glad that we've, you've been able to find some light from a challenging situation within your community.
[00:04:20] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, it's been amazing. So it's just really her, her willingness to be honest and to really be transparent about what the experience has been like. And then sharing that has really kind of opened up. It's kind of shed light into one area that is usually not talked about that much.
[00:04:34] Jennifer Wilson: Is there a caring bridge or a website like that where our listeners could follow her.
[00:04:40] Cathi Nelson: Yeah.
[00:04:40] Jennifer Wilson: Journey?
[00:04:41] Cathi Nelson: Yes. Yeah, Mm-hmm.
[00:04:44] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, if you could send that link, I will include it in the show notes for the episode.
[00:04:48] Cathi Nelson: Okay. I will for sure. Yeah, it's, yeah, she's done some podcasts and all sorts of things, so I'll share that with you.
[00:04:53] Jennifer Wilson: Great. And what else is exciting you right now?
[00:04:57] Cathi Nelson: I think, you know, my son just getting married and it's been four weeks and his, my daughter-in-law just sent a note and asked, said she wanted make us dinner this weekend. So it just, it's funny when people, when marriage just seems to have changed both of them a bit. So they're not, uh, like just having a daughter-in-law wanna make me dinner is, feels really wonderful and I'm excited about that.
[00:05:19] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, for sure. Yeah. That's such a, my, I have two stepsons. One is, uh, oh gosh, how old are they now? Like 28, 32. And neither one of them are quite settled yet, but I know at some point that will, will happen. Um, we certainly don't get invited to dinner in this phase of their lives.
[00:05:37] Cathi Nelson: My son's name is Joshua. The civilization of Joshua. My mom called like, his grandmother, like a couple weeks after they got married and she was like, oh my God, you are gonna believe it. But I talked to Josh and Kate and they're gonna take me out to dinner. They offered to, or to take me to lunch. And I hung up and I looked at my husband and I said, oh, he's got a wife. Because, no way. hadn't taken my mom out to lunch in a long time, and all of a sudden he's making weekend plans. We thought, well, he's gonna be civilized now.
[00:06:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. So we also like to ask our guests about their bucket list. And this could be anything that feels important to capture, whether it's in a photo book, traditional scrapbook project, even a photo gallery on the wall. Something that you want to capture even in a journal. But it's something that feels really significant. You know, similar to what you described, um, from Sharon's journey.
[00:06:29] Cathi Nelson: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:30] Jennifer Wilson: So is there a story that you really wanna tell?
[00:06:33] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. Gosh, there's so many different stories. One thing that's been on my, to my wishlist to-do list, which I think I'm getting closer to make happen, is a wall gallery. And my perfectionism has kept me from getting this completed. But we as a family traveled, uh, Our goal was for our kids to see all lower 48 states before they were adults or, you know, went on to their we did manage to achieve that. And in that process there's some just wonderful photographs of, uh, adventures that we had, whether it was whitewater rafting or rock climbing. And I have wanted to create a gallery wall just showing that we were a family that had a lot of adventures. And I think that's getting closer to, to happening because I've had my own photos. I've had help getting my own photos organized in a way that I could quickly find the photos that I really care about. In turning them and putting them onto to a gallery wall. So I'm looking forward to that.
[00:07:21] Jennifer Wilson: Now, this is just a curiosity. Is your gallery wall preference, um, very organized and uniform or a little bit more eclectic?
[00:07:31] Cathi Nelson: It'll probably be eclectic. But I think again, that's that perfection. You know, I get like, is there a right way, wrong way? And I've enjoyed, uh, listening to your podcast and kind of getting the idea that I don't have to have, there isn't a right or wrong way. I can, I just need to get it done and get it up there. So
[00:07:46] Jennifer Wilson: I think a lot, I know myself included, and a lot of our listeners resonate with this, like, these like competing desires of like, no, everything needs to be like perfect and aligned and measured versus no, let's just get the things on the wall. Um, let's use what we have, let's cobble together. And that often, I don't know, creates a more inviting space, particularly when we're talking about photo displays.
[00:08:07] Jennifer Wilson: Then, you know, a perfectly white grid of nine IKEA frames or whatever.
[00:08:13] Cathi Nelson: Exactly. Yeah. And I have a spot in our house where I know where this is gonna go. And I'm excited to, um. And I think in, in the process of actually going through the photos to do the video montage for my sons, uh, for the, the, uh, rehearsal dinner, which is something I've always had a dream of having done. And here was the chance to finally do that where I had the pictures of him as a baby growing up and then her as a baby growing up and then, then coming together. And made me rediscover all those photos that I realized that I hadn't displayed and that are kind of, were buried in albums and in drawers or different places. So I'm ready to get them out into the light again and let people, let's let my, you know, us experience them and then my kids as adults now experience them.
[00:08:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. I love that. I love that. So today I wanna just dive into what you do as well as pick your brain a little bit on some advice that you can share. But maybe we can just start with some basics. Can you tell us more about the Photo Managers? .
[00:09:08] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, so the Photo Managers, we're an international organization. We're really a, a community, kind of like an, I would say we're like a trade association, but we're not traditionally a trade association. That, you know, 15 or 10 years ago, people, or maybe 20 years ago, nobody had heard of professional, professional, uh, trainers, you know, or professional organizers.
[00:09:27] Cathi Nelson: The same is kind of true for photo organizers. Uh, but so 15 years ago, I realized that people were, because I was in the scrapbooking world and helping a lot of people. People started asking me to help them. How do I get my, you know, my photos from a memory card to my computer? How do I, um, how do I email photos?
[00:09:43] Cathi Nelson: Because this was before we had iPhones and everything, believe it or not. And so, and how do you condense a photo in those days? And I realized that there was just this, people were just overwhelmed with the changing technology. And so I started my own business helping people. A friend of mine said, well, what do you charge per hour to help me? And I was like, I don't charge anything. And, a typical woman, you know, she's like, no, no, no, you have to let me pay you. And so I got to her house and not only did she have images on a computer that she didn't know how to get off of, she also showed me the boxes of photos that she had inherited. 'Cause her parents had just passed away and she had told her siblings that she would, you know, scan those and digitize 'em and get them back to them. And she hadn't. And she had two kids who are straddling that, analog digital world. They were in middle school at that time in high school. And she said, Cathi, I don't care how long it takes, but I guarantee you there are hundreds of other Marias just like me who'd pay somebody to do this work for them.
[00:10:30] Cathi Nelson: And so that was kind of an aha moment for me. I thought, wow, I wonder if people will really, uh, so I called myself a photo organizer. And I always tell people the word organizing came out of the desire to create a narrative. Like she wanted me to make an album of her parents for her. And I thought, well, if your photos aren't organized, I can't do that for you. I need to have 'em organized. So the word organization got attached to that, but really it's about helping people share and save their, their most precious memories and then assisting them in that process. And then as other people started discovering what I was doing, they said, can you teach me how to do it?
[00:11:01] Cathi Nelson: And so I created this association model where I created a certification, and now we have over 700 members throughout the world that do this for a living. And, um, we have annual conferences. And it's just a li it's a business, uh, that's taken on a life of its own. And I'm kind of been the person that's in the, you know, the organization that's assured that we've kept our integrity and kept a good, strong code of ethics and things around the, around all of this.
[00:11:25] Jennifer Wilson: Now your members work both in person as well as remotely, right?
[00:11:30] Cathi Nelson: Yes. Mm-hmm.
[00:11:31] Jennifer Wilson: I just wanted, I think that's one common myth is that someone could only help you in person. Now obviously there's limitations if, if you are working remotely, but I wanted to make sure.
[00:11:41] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. I think many of our, actually, many of our members work remotely. It doesn't really matter today anymore because, and Covid kind of proved that to us in a whole different way. I think with Zoom and you know, people will, yeah, you can do Zoom meetings and we'll meet with clients, you know, uh, remotely go through, log into their computers and access their computers remotely.
[00:11:58] Cathi Nelson: Now there's all the technology to do that. And people are always surprised that you can organize somebody else's photos. Which is really not a mystery of what we take photos of. And that's, um, you know, if I opened up a box of your family photos, I'm sure I would fairly quickly find the themes. You know, there's themes that you probably take photos of and you know, there's always graduations, there's always, you know, baby's first steps, first days of school, vacation. You know, there, it's just actually not a mystery I always say of what people take photos of.
[00:12:26] Jennifer Wilson: And today we just have a bunch of screenshots, inter interspersed between all of those.
[00:12:30] Cathi Nelson: Correct. That's a whole, yeah. There's, there's the, I would say there's two worlds. There's the analog world, which is the past printed world and then there's the whole digital world. And there two different, different ways that we interact actually with our photos.
[00:12:41] Jennifer Wilson: Can you take us back a little bit further and talk about what you were doing in scrapbooking when you made this transition and how it kind of led to it? I'm wondering if there's any like kind of personal experiences that said, I really need to do this.
[00:12:56] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, it's amazing. When I, I think back, I, I discovered Creative Memories, uh, as a scrapbooking company when I, my son was, my, both my children are adopted, so I was trying to create a Lifebook for my son about how he came to be part of our family. And I wanted to write next to the photos. And in those days, I didn't know there was nothing I.
[00:13:14] Cathi Nelson: Or I, I couldn't find any way to do that. And a friend of mine introduced me to Creative Memories at that point, which I think was, that would've been in 1993. So they were around, but it was still not quite, scrapbooking hadn't become the large business that it became after that. And so I be, I found, discovered that products and I fell in love with the ability to write stories next to photos. Because I always felt like the stories really matter. As much as, and I was always an avid photographer and loved taking photos all the way from I was the high school photo yearbook, you know, photographer, and I just was always something I've been passionate about my whole life. And so I started then. became a consultant. And was, you know, introducing scrapbooking to all my friends and things in this area in the northeast. To the point where I used to take large numbers of people away for weekend scrapbooking events up in New Hampshire. And then at one point we had over 1800 people scrapbooking at the Connecticut Convention Center. So I kind of organized that, but it was a lot of other, you know, uh, scrapbooking consultants who brought their customers. And it was a two day event. We locked up the convention center and I remember walking around thinking there's so much. This is not about women because a lot of people kind of poo-pooed us. I remember, you know, feeling like men in particular didn't take us seriously. They thought like, oh, a bunch of women cutting photos in funny, cute shapes. But I knew that there was something much more significant happening in those rooms of tables of people. It was about sharing stories. It was about connection. It was about doing something meaningful for your family, but having fun. It was just so much more than that. So I think that's when I knew that people, how I just realized how much people value their photos and their memories and so when people then were completely stumped and they are even worse today than they ever possibly, I'd never dreamed it would grow to this level. I just knew that people needed help and they would, and they would want help.
[00:15:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. I think that the sense of community and comradery, particularly just as we can say as women, but really as humans. To know that we have certain shared experiences in life. We all go through challenging times. No day is perfect. And I think when we can come together around something that is so personal, like our memories. We, we get even an even deeper sense and connection around that, if that makes sense. Um, just to know you're not alone.
[00:15:33] Cathi Nelson: I love to say that, you know, we're a people of stories. And the way that human beings tell stories today was oral tradition, right? We, it was sitting around campfires. But once the camera was created, I think people started telling visual stories using visual you know, using photography as a way to tell stories. And that that's just a human characteristic.
[00:15:51] Cathi Nelson: And what's amazing is, you know, I say we're international because we do have members all over the world and I get these emails from, you know, new members that are joining like in Aust, Austria, or in Africa or in Australia. And it's always, they come to us. They usually find us because they say, somebody in their family passed away or there was a lifestyle lifetime event or something, and they suddenly realized, they started going through the photos, they got overwhelmed. They realized they needed help. They found us somehow, and they realized other people need help. And it's, doesn't matter what country they're from or what language they speak, it's still the same need over and over again. I think it just, it just speaks to that, it's the, it's part of the human condition, right? This desire to remember to share, to pass on stories, and, and photography and video. Which is a big growing piece of this. And keepsake items, I also, I, I try not to say only photos because I think, you know, there's letters, kids artwork, babies, you know, shoes. There's so much, there's a lot to this whole topic really than it's just, than just photography. But the things we care about.
[00:16:54] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, for sure. Yes. Well, and we all have various boxes and various states of things too, um, of those items as well.
[00:17:02] Cathi Nelson: Yeah.
[00:17:03] Jennifer Wilson: I'd like to talk a little bit about advice you have for our listeners, both for those who are interested in hiring a professional as well as those who are really like I, I wanna tackle this myself. So for starters, what are really the benefits of working with a pro?
[00:17:17] Cathi Nelson: I think, you know, so it's funny, I. just outed myself another, I could give this to you a link, but we interviewed four professionals just recently with four of their clients. And I was one of the clients. So I decided to let people know that I hired one of our members because to get that project done for my son's and my to get done in time for the wedding, I, I just finally realized by December the wedding was this coming September. Past September, I knew that I wasn't gonna get to it. I'm just too busy. And that, why wouldn't I practice what I preach. So it was an amazing experience, uh, really positive experience working with a professional. But I think the reason is one is time. If you just don't have the time and you're not gonna get to it, it's one of the things you'll never regret. I would say nobody ever like said, oh shoot, I can't believe I just paid somebody to help me get my photos, uh, organized. It's, and again, it's not just about organizing. So working with a professional, they're going to ask you really good questions about what is it that you really wanna accomplish? What's your vision for this project? What is there, is there an outcome that is a really desired outcome? And then also help you think about it in ways you might not have thought about it. Also, technology just changes so rapidly right now it's really hard to keep up. And so a professional's job is to keep up with the changing technology. And there's a lot of really great apps and resources out there that the average person just, there's no, why would you know? I mean, 'cause you're just busy in your day-to-day life. And so our job is to, and we interact with a lot of companies that find us and introduce us to the new technology. And so I think a professional can really streamline the process and also help you merge. Probably a lot of times it does come down to merging, you know, your analog, your printed photo collection with your digital collection. So that everything is in one place and you can find it. Like right now, I mean all my photos, so I could quickly pull up a photo of Joshua's sixth birthday, you know, in a second here if I needed to, where I could not have done that six months ago.
[00:19:08] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. I think one thing that that really pops out for me is this need to choose formats, locations, whatever, whatever technical choices we're making that are gonna have like the longest lifespan. You know, I remember when I thought zip disks were gonna be like, this is what everything was gonna be stored on in the future.
[00:19:28] Jennifer Wilson: And I really invested in that. And of course that did not happen. Um, but with technologies, you know, changing so quickly, the more we can have in make informed decisions versus the latest and greatest. Some of which will be what's around forever. Um.
[00:19:45] Cathi Nelson: I know it's disappointing. You know, I always say to people that people always think that, oh, somehow they, I've done something wrong. Like, oh, I'm, but my, you know, it's like they're, they don't want to admit to the condition of their photos. But I say it's not, especially women, I think in particular, we kind of blame ourselves or I'm not good with computers, or I'm not good with technology or I don't know how to do that. And it's not you, it's the, the industry itself, they just, nobody, Google and Apple and, you know, Amazon or whoever you're using hasn't been invested in really helping. They, they just wanna keep selling you more us more and more storage, right? They're not, there's no reason for them to really want us to be dealing with curated photo collections. And so it's, it's hopefully people understand that this situation is not something that they did because they didn't push the right button or didn't know something that they should have known.
[00:20:33] Jennifer Wilson: I would've never guessed that the number one blog post for years and years on our website would be how to Get Your Photos out of Picasa. It wasn't even something I ever used. I was just responding, you know, to the announcement it was going away. Filmed a video and now that's by far how people from all over the world, you know, men and women are finding our website is because of that.
[00:20:55] Cathi Nelson: And it's still in. Right. And Shutterfly just, you know, we
[00:20:58] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.
[00:20:59] Cathi Nelson: Announced there like six months ago. That, or CO, or Costco. Just, you know, I mean it's, so that's the other thing we're kind of at, we're, you know, our photos are kind of at risk of just companies making decisions that we're, that we have, no. And why would you know about it? Like Picassa, that's been decades or not, not decades, but certainly, I mean, people are still finding that they, you know, they're like, oh, maybe I need to get my photos Pica. They don't even realize it's been long gone at this point.
[00:21:25] Jennifer Wilson: So what questions should someone ask a potential service provider? Um, so they can feel confident in, you know, their knowledge, skills, and abilities?
[00:21:33] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, one one. One of the first things I did when I first started the organization was create a certification program. Because I knew that we needed to protect the integrity of the industry. And that I called myself a personal photo organizer in the early stages because I knew it was deeply personal work and that there needed to be, uh, a code of ethics confidentiality. And so we have a certification program. So the first thing I would ask is, are they a certified, certified professional? And if they, that means they've taken the time to invest in the process. They've, um, completed a project. They've documented it, we've reviewed it, we've checked their references. They don't, they're not, you're not listed on our website as to be found by the public until you're, uh, certified. So again, that if I would ask, are they certified? And it then also ask them, you know, . What's a sample of a favorite project they've done for a client? Or what about their own photos? What is it that, why are they doing this for a living? I always say there's four, three things that we usually find that are pretty, that are indicative of a person that decides to do, you know, switch and do this for, they come from all different backgrounds. We have nurses and, and uh, teachers and nuclear engineers and, I mean, it's amazing the background but. They have to be a, a lifelong learner, a willingness to learn tech, to keep learning. Also, a curiosity about people and a lover of stories and things. So I think you'll know quickly in talking to somebody, are they curious about you, about your background? Because they, they need to bring that curiosity with them to the process to help you, uh, answer que to ask you questions that you might not thought of about how you want your photo project. Uh, you know, searched and created for you for the future. So those are things that I would definitely ask.
[00:23:11] Jennifer Wilson: Now you mentioned how when working with a pro, they would ask you those really good questions to make sure that you know your goals are aligned. So I'm curious, is digitization of your print slides and negatives, is that the best goal for everyone? Or are there certain kind of considerations? .
[00:23:28] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. You mean from your analog photo collection, your
[00:23:31] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:32] Cathi Nelson: I think that, yes, but we, I'm very careful to say, I don't think you need to digitize all the photos that you've ever taken. 'Cause that's just recreating a mess digitally that you had already in, in the boxes, in the envelopes and the doubles and things. So we really recommend that you take the time to either, you can either pay somebody to do that or you do it yourself. Where you go, I call, I created an acronym called the ABCs of Photo Organizing. And I've written book about it. But it's basically just quickly the A ask yourself, are these the archival worthy, album worthy? Are these the photos that really care about? B is, it's really hard to make that decision. So those go back in the box and you can put a note on the box to say to your kids or somebody who inherits those photos that you couldn't throw them away, but they have your permission to throw them away. And the C is our, yes, you can throw photos away and you should get, you know, blurries and duds and things that aren't interesting. But the S is does the photo tell story. So that goes back in the A pile. So I believe you should digitize those A photos for sure. A hundred percent. Because they're just at such risk right now with weather extremes and hurricanes or digital, you know, just getting lost and having that digitization is a, is a, is a backup copy of those photos.
[00:24:43] Jennifer Wilson: For sure, for sure. Now, if someone's really wanting to go on their own, where would you suggest someone start?
[00:24:50] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, get their own photos organized? Like we call it DIY.. Yeah, there's lots of great resources out there. I mean, I've, uh, you know, my book is Photo Organizing Made Easy. But, um, I. I think, well, there's five steps that we say. The first thing is to set a goal. So what is your goal? What is it that you hope to accomplish? And then to narrow that down to a, to a manageable step. Because if it's like, oh, I want all my photos organized, like I knew what helped me was when I finally had that goal. I wanted to be able to, I. Show Joshua from birth growing up, you know, and I knew I needed about a hundred, 150 of photos for that piece of the video. So I, I, so I had a goal and I set a goal. And then from there, once I had that goal, then I knew what I was looking for. I wanted to make sure that I scanned all those, uh, I scanned all my, my scrapbook albums. To make sure that I, because a lot of the photos of him growing up are in album pages, and I wanna take off the album pages. So, um, so that was a big part of the process.. So the, so the idea of setting a goal. And then, um, gathering everything into one place. So you need to, we call it assessing the mess. And if you don't know what you have, it's really hard again, to, to make a decision. So just set up like a table in your corner of your dining room or something and just start gathering like, oh, I have you know six boxes of loose photos. I have seven albums. I have, oh look, I discovered all these camcorder tapes and V C R tapes I didn't know I had. And just, you know, whether it's on an Excel spreadsheet or just in a notebook, just start making a list. So when I finally took the time to do that myself. I was amazed at what I have, and now I still have that list to work from. I was able to say, okay, I'm gonna just, we just, I just wanna scan these photo albums. Because these are the ones where I knew those photos of Joshua were. I didn't scan all the albums I had made yet, though. That's something I can do in the future. So again, that idea of gathering everything into one place, taking an inventory about what you have. That's analog. Now, digital, it's the same problem. You need to know where all your digital photos are living because you wanna create what we call a digital photo hub. One place where all your digital photos exist so that you can work from that. So that means figuring out how many, where are your photos in Dropbox, Google Photos. You know, Mylio, Forever. There's lots of scr. You know, Costco, Shutterfly, you know, Apple photos, iPhoto, where have you stored and probably imported digital photos from memory cards and things like that. And just get a sense of where all they, where they're located is the first place to start.
[00:27:14] Jennifer Wilson: Are there some common mistakes you see individuals make when they're choosing a D I Y approach? Kind of how can we avoid some of those pitfalls?
[00:27:24] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, I think perfectionism, just like I was saying at the beginning of the.
[00:27:28] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:28] Cathi Nelson: Of the show for myself. This idea that there's a right way and a wrong way. I think is done is better than perfect. And so I think the mistake I think would be made is also not to ever get started. And it took you a lifetime to create this, you know, our, the number of photos we have as over the span of our lifetime, and so it's not a weekend job. So I think really having a realistic understanding that this process does take time. . And then once you get it done, you'll wanna keep up, you'll wanna have some kind of maintenance plan in place so that it doesn't get really crazy again. But it does, you know, it's a six month, it could, so when I started my process, it was, I started with her in January and we finished up in, um, in June. So it, it took six months, you know, 'cause I just wasn't on top of it every moment. And I, you know, I worked on my own piece of the projects in, in bits and starts. So I think, that's probably the biggest mistake. Thinking that you have to do it all at once, that there's a right or wrong way. I think really just getting started is critical.
[00:28:25] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes, a hundred percent. I think that goes with so many, uh, of those bigger projects we have in our homes, in our lives. Is that if we don't, if we don't start moving down the road, we will never get to our destination.
[00:28:38] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, and I think, you know, that what I mentioned in the beginning with Sharon, um, you know, just watching her go through this process and her kids are young adults. She was just became an empty nester when she got her diagnosis. And, um, the process of, you know, not that we're doing this to leave a legacy only for it. But really to, you know, we don't know time is we have what the amount of time that we have. And I think, I'm sure your listeners care deeply about this topic because that's why they're, uh, you know, enjoying the creative process of working with their photos and things. So I think not to keep putting off something that is so important, thinking that someday you'll get to it.
[00:29:15] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. So when someone is kind of centralizing all of their digital files into, um, a hub, uh, they often come across duplicates. Because they've put them in multiple locations. Some things were auto uploaded. So how do you recommend going about eliminating duplicate images?
[00:29:34] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, that's where technology has really come into play. There's two, uh, there's something called Photo Sweeper, which is MAC only. And then there's something called Cisdem. C I S D E M. I think that's how you spell it. That's both Mac or PC. Now, of course, on our phones, you know, and I mean on Apple, they'll, they can, they'll find the duplicates for you and allow you to do that, but, um, Let the technology do it for you. Those, those programs are really, really powerful programs. They won't, they'll move them into another folder on your desktop. They won't delete them unless you, you know, give them permission to. But they'll find, and we, that's kind of a joke, professional photo organizers love to share on our private Facebook group how many duplicates they remove from a project. But I'd say even myself, I think I went from a hundred thousand. Photos down to 50,000 or so because of that's how many, you know, duplicates. Especially when we were using memory cards and importing. I was always so afraid that I knew I would import 'em from my memory card, but I thought, well, what, just in case I forgot to do, you know, import those photos or just in case I forgot know, I did it over and over again myself. So, uh, but let the technology do that work for you.
[00:30:39] Jennifer Wilson: So speaking more broadly about technology, and we've mentioned how things are rapidly changing, how do you handle that with your members? Because it seems like even, um, training modules that you create will become outdated so much quicker than they used to.
[00:30:54] Cathi Nelson: They sure do. I know. It's amazing. Right? I was just thinking about, yeah, my book I, that's it's in its second edition, but I'm thinking I probably need to re-look at that and get that third edition out. I, one of the things that, yeah, technology is rapidly changing, but the concepts that we need to focus on haven't really changed that right? We want our photos easily accessible. You know, and I, I'm, we can talk in a minute about AI and how some of that's gonna help. But I do think having a folder system or what, how your brain works, that how you are able to find things is a system that you should continue to work with. I don't think you need to adapt every new changing technology. Because our, our, my kids will access their photos much differently than I do. Because they already don't think in terms of a folder structure, right? They're gonna just type in a name or type in a search. They're gonna just use search differently than I do. But I think knowing that your way, that you think about based on your age and where you are, and it's okay to use the technology that exists at the, at the level that you're comfortable with it. I hope that makes.
[00:31:56] Jennifer Wilson: That's good advice. I like that. Because there's always a way to do it in a more complicated way, but that doesn't mean that's the best way for you.
[00:32:04] Cathi Nelson: It depends on how you. learn as well. Like I just got a new computer and so I learned about how I learned that. I took me, I took it. I didn't open it, take it outta the box for like three or four days. I made sure that I was still moving everything off my old computer. I decided not to bring it to the Apple store and let the genius bar do a, for me, I decide I can do it myself. I can, and I am slowly, but I didn't do it all in one day. Like I just knew that I would get overwhelmed. I need to just slowly but surely open up these new, you know, add new software and kind of keep updating things because I've learned that I get overwhelmed if I tried to do it all in one day, just based on my ability to maintain new information.
[00:32:44] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:32:44] Cathi Nelson: Think okay to understand about ourselves, like it, go slow.
[00:32:48] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and to, you know, we talked in the beginning or a little while ago about having a, a bit of a paper trail for your projects. So this is, this is what I have, this is where I'm at. When you can note down, okay, I took this step today. This is what happened. This was the road bump. So you know, when you sit down again that you can jump right back into it.
[00:33:07] Jennifer Wilson: Um, there's something really powerful about such simple things as, you know, a notebook or our digital notes to, to track our progress and make sure that we can remember where we were when we last sat down.
[00:33:20] Cathi Nelson: I, I be honest with you, I have, uh, in my, when I stopped, when I finally realized I couldn't keep up with my own scrapbooks when my, this business took off to such a level that I was really working so much more. I left a note in my, it's still there in my, in my box of photos where, what date I was and where I had left off. And, um, so it's, I'm really, I knew that, I know that that's there. So it's kind of a relief to know that even though it's been in many years now, I can, when I open that box, I'll be able to kind of start where I left off.
[00:33:50] Jennifer Wilson: It gives you some sort of frame, frame of reference for where to begin.
[00:33:53] Cathi Nelson: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:54] Jennifer Wilson: So how do you think AI will further change the game in terms of how we use technology to find and manage our photos?
[00:34:02] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. I love this topic. I mean, we talk about this all the time. We have at our conference we had, so this is my theory on AI, it's that it's our, it's it gonna be using it more and more. It does, it's amazing how it can help us find. Like right now, if I needed a picture of my dogs, right, I could just go on my iPhone and type in dog and now they're, know, and all my dog pictures show up. And I'm using that search more and more, and also facial recognition. But I love to tell the story of I have a wonderful photograph of my son standing next to a woman who looks, looks a lot like him, she's holding a bouquet of flowers. So if you were looking at this photo, it's AI in and Geotag would tell you it was taken at Bradley International Airport. The date it was taken. It would know that it's Belinda and Joshua. It would know what kind of flower she's holding. It would know, I think it'll know who's kind of fuzzy in the background. They were just, you know, innocent bystanders who happened to be at the airport at that day. I think in time the AI might even do facial recognition with them. What it's never gonna be able to tell you is that was the first time that Joshua looked into the face of somebody who looked like him. We discovered his first cousin on 23 And Me. She just, we did the 23 And Me to help him know what his background was. And he got an email saying, how is this possible? This says that your aunt, you know, my Aunt Gabrielle, my uncle Raul are your parents and they live in Mexico, and how could that be? And that's when Joshua suddenly was able to meet, uh, connect with, with Belinda. We flew her to Connecticut and uh, they met for the first time and they look a lot alike. AI can't ever tell you that. That's where AI will never, can't tell you that story. It's still a story that has to be told by us. So that's AI will help us, but it won't tell the stories that we need to tell.
[00:35:42] Jennifer Wilson: So with that perspective in mind, do you recommend, those who are maybe just getting started with their systems today. To add tags or keywords, or we better serve with adding context to the metadata. Typing really short stories.
[00:35:58] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, it's a, I think again, that becomes a personal choice. I do think tagging and, and still adding the metadata is really important. Of course, all of our analog photos have to be, um, I. You, you wanna add the metadata, like the correct dates as best that you can, who's in the photos and things. But I do think adding the context and the stories, again, that's where the ABCs of photo organizing kind of the, the, the archival, the best, the, A, album worthy, however you wanna determine that. Because it could be overwhelming to try and add all that context to all the photos that you have. But certainly the ones that you, that like that particular photo, that story needs to be told. Not photo of that weekend needs to have that story attached to it, but.
[00:36:39] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes. It was kind of a light bulb moment for me when I kind of, I, I, you know, consciously knew it, but to have the permission to say, these are your five star photos, or however, you know, you choose to organize them. These are the best. This is a smaller subset. It's like, a thousand or 2000 photos. Maybe not even that many of the many thousands. And I could only tag those and that would be hugely valuable. Um, versus feeling like I need to tag every single photo.
[00:37:08] Cathi Nelson: And that's where that perfectionism comes in. Right? Or that, you know, or that feeling like I'm not doing enough. But the fact that you've done that much is so helpful to anybody who's gonna go back and look in your photo collection. Right? It's okay that you didn't, and, and we don't wanna see. It's so much more interesting to see.
[00:37:24] Cathi Nelson: The other thing I tell people is to, you can break the rules. Like a lot of people think they can't, they have to organize their photos in chronological order. And I always say, well, we live in, like, today's happened to be Monday and tomorrow will be Tuesday and it's October. But I remember thematically, like those trips that we took with our kids around to all the different states, it doesn't matter. I don't have to put them in order of like, oh, we went to Ohio and then Indiana and then. You know, it's much more interesting to group them in, in like experiences. Like, oh these are the museum, these are all the different museums that we went to. These are the different, you know, ways that we experience nature. And so it doesn't matter that Mariah might be five when she's at Yellowstone and you know, 10 when she's at the Grand Canyon. If there those photos are displayed in some way or the stories told near each other. 'Cause it's more about the experience than it is about the date, time, order of things.
[00:38:14] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. We definitely have these same conversations, kind of specifically about scrapbooking and how we are storing our layouts, whether it's in a chronological system or more grouped by categories and themes, as you were just describing.
[00:38:28] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. And if you do, and there's no right or wrong either way. 'Cause people that love chronological, I kind of came up with that when I realized the people that had thrown everything in a big box and they, they just were never gonna do anything. 'Cause they, they couldn't get the chronological piece. And I thought, well, that's a, we can't let that hold us back from getting it done. Right? So either, if, whichever one you choose to use is a great system.
[00:38:51] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, because it's, anything is better than nothing, for sure.
[00:38:54] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, yeah,
[00:38:55] Jennifer Wilson: So if we have to step back here, is there a fundamental piece of advice that you think can make photo management feel easier?
[00:39:02] Cathi Nelson: Yeah. Let's see. My final word of advice is your story matters and your photos, , and what you want to tell about those are important. And whether it's just you who, cares or your family that will care someday. It's okay. You just, I think the piece I wanna leave with people is just to know that, that you're a unique person here at this moment in time and, and history. And I think whatever, however you choose to capture those memories and things really has value. And to enjoy the process and to, to know that it, it's, it's meaningful. And to, and to I care about it. I mean, I think I care and I think, um, obviously this audience, I'm sure is a caring audience around that topic, but I think it's okay to know that about yourself.
[00:39:43] Jennifer Wilson: I love that we can have, be, be serving maybe similar people, but have very two separate businesses. Very two different businesses. But yet have this, like this core value and passion for the same kind of thing. That's the thing that's, I don't know, really special and unique I think.
[00:40:01] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, I'm excited to, I will admit that I hired a woman, Kim, uh, who's our now operation director. Who is a, been a, I think used, been a part of your community for a long time, and she.
[00:40:11] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:11] Cathi Nelson: Introduced me to you and I'm excited to sign up. I'm gonna start your November, your getting started. Um, I'm excited to re, I'm, I'm excited to get, to kind of discover this community and regain that passion back again. Because especially I think when my kids, my kids got older, I stopped, you know, so much of it from my, my early years was really around documenting my children's stories. But now realizing I still have my own story to tell. Like, what, you know, or maybe it's around a word or maybe it's around a, you know, nature or maybe it's around flowers. And I could kind of come back to this love of craft like that. So I'm really excited to be reintroduced in a way to this, this love that I had. And, um,
[00:40:50] Jennifer Wilson: I can't wait to see what you do. That's really exciting.
[00:40:52] Cathi Nelson: Yeah, it's gonna be fun.
[00:40:53] Jennifer Wilson: Cathi, can you share where we can find you online and anything you'll have new or coming up at the very end of this year or the beginning of next?
[00:41:02] Cathi Nelson: So you can find us at thephotomanagers.com. That's where you'll find all our DIY resources. We do have a photo organizing academy there where we do have courses that people can take for the DIY and Pro audience. Uh, we also have a growing YouTube channel where we're putting lots of content up on YouTube. We're stepping into the YouTube world. And so under everything's would be under the Photo Managers. And I think what I'm, you know, again, I've, I've, I'll be at the, at Roots Tech speaking with one of our members about an Iranian family who carried one box of photos, uh, when they left Iran during the revolution. So I'll, I'll be at Roots Tech. I'm looking forward to that in February. For those of you who don't know, that's the largest genealogy conference in the world. at Salt Lake City and people who are passionate about stories and genealogy come. And so I'm, I'm really looking forward to that. And then our conference, we do have an annual educational conference. It'll be in, uh, it's in, uh, Columbus, Ohio, in April.
[00:41:58] Jennifer Wilson: Sounds good. We'll include all those links in the show notes.
[00:42:00] Cathi Nelson: Good. Thank you.
[00:42:01] Jennifer Wilson: Thanks so much for spending time with me
[00:42:03] Cathi Nelson: Appreciate it. Thank you.
[00:42:05] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way.
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