What is the one thing you would grab if your house was burning down?
I watched in suspense along with millions of other Americans as Jack Pearson fled his family’s burning house in a recent “This is Us” episode, and I fought back the tears as he came out with the family dog, a photo album and a video he had captured that day of his daughter singing for an audition.
Good choices, Jack. Family photos tell the story of our lives, and they are also my most prized possessions (after the people in my life, of course!).
That’s why I have more than 4,000 photos on my phone and another 4,000 stored on my camera. In addition, they are on my computer and some are in scrapbooks and some are in boxes. It feels disorganized and chaotic. Not a very good organization system for such an important part of my life.
When I heard about Bertrand native Lisa Tonjes Moritz’s business, HOPE Organizing, I knew I had to visit with her about tips for getting my photos in order. I definitely feel a new sense of HOPE after hearing her great ideas!
Lisa spent her early years on the family farm near Bertrand and then graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She spent several years in the banking industry and used her natural skills to help banks get organized before audits.
During her banking days, she vividly remembers walking into an Office Depot store and seeing a prize give away for two hours with a professional organizer.
“That sounds like an awesome job,” Lisa said to herself. “I want to do this someday.”
Lisa took the leap and started her dream job in 2007. She helps clients organize their homes, businesses and photos.
Lisa named her business Helping Organize People Everyday (HOPE) and later simplified the name to HOPE Organizing.
“I want to give people hope that they can be organized,” she said. “A lot of times it can be so relaxing to not have the stress of clutter.”
She said one client hired her to help organize her home, and they decided to start with creating space in her bedroom. With Lisa’s help, the client slept peacefully all night in her bedroom for the first time in three years.
“Just having the clean space gave her the relaxation to sleep all night,” Lisa said.
Lisa is certified by the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and has seen growth in the photo organization part of her business in the past few years.
Lisa’s clients include empty nesters who have generations of photos to organize and younger clients whose photos are stored randomly on computers, phones and digital cameras.
Her typical client is an empty-nest female age 55-70 who has four generations of family photos. But, younger clients who take mainly digital photos also seek her services.
“Sometimes in the digital age, clients are overloaded with photos because instead of taking one photo, you take 10,” she said.
Each client has a different goal. Some want to make photo albums, others want to be sure their photos are backed up and others just want to be able to find a photo quickly or have them organized so they could grab them quickly in case of that fire or when a child suddenly needs a photo of them when they were 6.
Whatever your goal, Lisa can help. Here are some of her best tips for organizing photos:
Tips for Organizing Digital Photos
Establish A Photo Hub. That “hub” would likely be one computer or an external hard drive. It’s important to have a place where all photos are eventually gathered in one place.
Label and Organize Photos in the Hub: Once photos are transferred to the hub, Lisa organizes hers by year and event. Each photo is labeled so it is easy to do a computer search later to find exactly the photo needed.
Back-Up Photos in Three Ways: Once photos are gathered into a central hub, it is an industry standard to back them up three ways. Those backup options could include your computer, an external hard drive and a cloud server or other online backup services. She recommends Forever.com, DropBox or pCloud. Printed photos can also be considered one of the backup copies.
Back Up Smart Phone Photos: Lisa said its extremely important to back up photos on phones in case something happens to the phone. Her phone is set to automatically back up photos as soon as she takes them. She can help clients with setting up that process.
Tips for Organizing Printed Photos
Purchase Photo Boxes: Lisa recommends storing printed photos in photo boxes because they take up less space than books. One photo box can hold up to 1,000 photos. If photos are already in chronological order, that’s a great way to organize them in the box. However, if they are not in chronological order, Lisa recommends organizing by person (Place all of the photos of mom and dad in one box, child number one in another box and child number two in another box.) That way when the child leaves home, you can just give them the box of photos.
Scan Photos to Create Back-Up Copies: When Lisa works with clients who have printed photos, she scans them into a computer so they can be backed up two other ways.
Avoid Sticky-Page Books: If placing photos in scrapbooks, Lisa recommends staying away from photo albums with sticky pages because they yellow with age. If you have old photo albums or baby books that are deteriorating, Lisa can scan the photos or scan the entire book and create a replica. She has a 12 x 18 commercial scanner that can accommodate almost any size of album.
Tips for Organizing Kids Art Work
Don’t Keep It All: “Your kids will thank you for that later,” she said.
Let Kids Be Part of the Process: Once kids are about age 5 or 6, let them be part of the process of deciding what to keep.
Photograph or Scan Artwork: If you take a picture of the artwork, it doesn’t take up as much space. If taking photos, Lisa recommends using the same background each time to create uniformity. She recommends a plain white or black background so that if you do create a book or poster with the photos, it will have a consistent background.
Hang Artwork: Lisa said her 2-year-old son’s room is decorated with artwork created by her nieces and nephews. “Sometimes, the original artwork looks better than what you might buy in the store,” she said.
Make an Art Book: Art books are a great way to condense and show off your child’s artwork. Start by taking photos of each of the pieces (on a consistent background) and then upload photos to a digital scrapbook site or print photos and create a handmade scrapbook.
Tips for Organizing Videos
Keep Videos in a Separate Folder: Lisa organizes her photos by year and keeps a separate folder for videos. It’s important in integrate the videos into a photo collection and back them up as well.
Do Something With Those Videos: Instead of just storing many short clips of videos, make a “feature film” of the year’s highlights. She recommends using an online service called Video Done. The service allows you to upload video clips, and they make a movie with sound for you.
Consider Future Uses of Photos & Videos: “If you are doing this for your kids and grandkids, you need to think about how they will use it in the future,” Lisa said. She said making a video on Video Done for her son’s first 18 months also inspired her to take more video and to include herself and her husband and grandparents in those videos as well.
For more information or to hire Lisa to help you organize your photos or your life, visit Hope Organizing online or call her at (402) 350-3220. To read about the resources she mentioned in this article, visit Hope Organizing’s Resource Page.