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How to Become a Photo Manager: Turn Your Love Of Family Memories Into a Profitable Business

A photo manager helps people connect to their photos and stories so that all generations can share and enjoy them.


The Photo Managers

July 15, 2020

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A few decades ago, it was easy to take care of our photo collections. If you were like most people, you’d go on a family vacation or celebrate a holiday and maybe take two or three rolls of film. Once the event was over, you’d either mail the film off to a photo lab or drive to your local pharmacy, wait and hour and head home with a treasured envelope of double photos and negative.

Fast forward to today, when was the last time you printed a photo? Instead, between tablets, phones, and digital cameras, taking pictures is easier than ever, but viewing and sharing photos has become a complex process. Keypoint Intelligence estimates that 1.4 trillion photographs will be taken in 2020. These staggering numbers have led to a growing need for professionals called Professional Photo Managers, who help people scan, organize, and share their family photo collections.

Who are the Photo Managers?  

Professional Photo Managers are people just like you! They care about photos and the stories they tell and have found a calling to help people manage their photo collections. A career as a photo manager is meaningful and essential. A family’s photos and videos are a critical piece of a family’s history. Photos and videos of weddings, graduations, births, vacations, memorials, grandparents, and aunts and uncles are priceless.  They are the moments people want to remember, but it is getting harder every month to keep track of the endless photos taken.  

How Does a Photo Manager Help?

A photo manager helps people connect to their photos and stories so that all generations can share and enjoy them. Their first objective is to help their clients set a goal by asking questions. What would an organized collection look like? What photos are most important to you? If I could wave a magic wand over your photo collection what would make you most happy? The answers aren't surprising: My photos are a mess, and I just don't know how to get started. Can you really help?  

The Answer is YES!  

A growing profession has arisen to meet this need. Just like the concept of a personal trainer or coach, photo managers work either remotely or alongside their clients. Whether it's helping organize printed and digital photos, scanning and backing up, creating keepsake photo books, wall art, and photo gifts, or converting old media to newer formats, a personal photo manager is there to help you make sure people enjoy their memories today and leave a legacy for future generations.

Is Being a Photo Manager the Career for You?

Do you love photos and stories? Are you the family historian? Have you made photo books or albums for your family and friends? Do you enjoy working with people? If so, this profession could be for you.

My name is Cathi Nelson, and I am the author of Photo Organizing Made Easy; Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed and the founder of The Photo Managers. We are celebrating our 11th anniversary with hundreds of members throughout the US, Canada, and the world.

Consumers today are more overwhelmed with their photos than ever before and are looking for solutions for managing and protecting their photo collections. The Photo Managers provide training, an annual educational conference, and a strong community of support. If you’d like to know more about starting a career as a photo manager, watch this webinar, Turn Your Love of Photos into A Business.  If you are intrigued but worried your own photos aren’t in order, don’t worry. You can use your own photos as your first project.

Organize Your Own Photos First  - 5 Steps

1. Hunt & Gather:

Before you can start organizing, you need to get all of your photos in one spot. Designate a workstation, such as a temporary folding table, and gather all your old albums, shoe boxes, processing envelopes, and boxes of slides into one place so you can quickly identify all that you have.

2. Identify the Best:

Many professionals use a simple acronym I developed called the ABCs to organize and identify which photos to keep and which pictures to toss.

“A” is for “album”: These are the photos that are album worthy and you would mourn if you lost them. These are the photos you’ll want to digitize, back up, share and display. They are the best of the best!

“B” is for “box”: These photos are the extras that you aren’t ready to part with but want to have access to at some point in the future. These photos will be archived for safekeeping but not necessarily digitized.

“C” is for “can”: Yes, you can throw photos in the trash. Your collection is filled with doubles, triples, and really bad pictures. I encourage you to be brutal here and set a goal to keep only twenty percent of your photos. This simple step will ensure you enjoy your photos in the future because you’ll have a manageable collection.

“S” is for “story”: Does the photo tell a story? These pictures play a significant role because there is something illustrative about them, even though it may not be obvious. A picture of your father making a silly face may bring back wonderful memories, even if, as a teenager, you felt embarrassed.

3. Sort Chronologically or Thematically

Once you’ve completed the ABCs, you’ll want to decide if you are going to sort your pictures chronologically or by themes. If you already have a somewhat chronological system in place, look for ways to build on that. If your photos are a hot mess, try themes for easier sorting.

4. Digitize and Back Up

Your printed photos, home movies, treasures, and memorabilia are just as vulnerable as your digital images that haven’t been backed up. Until you digitize your physical collection, these memories could be lost through fire, flood, natural disasters, human carelessness, natural decay, or an unexpected tragedy. This is why once your sorting is done, the next step is to scan all the photos — and your index cards if you want — and put the digital images in cloud storage. This is the safest place for your family’s photos, as discs and flash drives can get just as lost as the physical copies.

5. Share

The most important takeaway is that now that your photos aren’t trapped in a box, you can share them with friends and family. Your children, your children’s children, and many more generations to come will be able to piece together the history of your family because you dedicated the time and energy to creating a meaningful storyline.

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Become a Photo Manager

Looking for a side-gig or second-act career? You can turn your love of photos into a business! Register for our free webinar to learn more and receive our 3 class bundle valued at $99 for free.