Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Cathi Nelson, founder of The Photo Managers, about Save Your Photos Month, the need for personal photo organizing and the important role stories and photos play in all societies around the world.
The Photo Managers is the world’s leading educational community in the rapidly growing field of photo management. Founded in 2009 as the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) by Cathi Nelson, the name was updated in 2020 to better reflect the type of work our members provide clients.
Erin Manning 0:01
Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. here's your host, Gary Pageau.
Gary Pageau 0:10
The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Photo Finale, and Advertel Printing. Hello again, and welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau. And today we're joined by Cathi Nelson, the CEO and founder of the photo managers. Hi, Cathi, how are you today?
Cathi Nelson 0:31
I'm great, Gary, good to catch up with you.
Gary Pageau 0:33
For the five people who don't know, can you tell me what the Photo Managers are about?
Cathi Nelson 0:40
We are an international community of people. So we support small business owners, entrepreneurs who offer photo organizing photo management services to the overwhelmed client in business, which just about everybody in the world at this point. So we started in 2011, basically helping people with their analog photos, which were, you know, stuffed in boxes, and were a mess, and they needed them scanned and digitized. And today, it's become a lot of really Digital Asset Management, because the average consumer today has has about the same amount of digital assets that a small business did just three years ago.
Gary Pageau 1:16
And that was really the launch of the what we now call the shoe box scanning business, right? So so your members or partners are people involved with helping consumers deal with their memories,
Cathi Nelson 1:30
right. And so when we say members, so people pay, like an association model, we are an association, a membership community, they pay me an annual fee. And in exchange for that we connect them with one another. And also, I do a lot of teaching and training on how to help the consumer that's overwhelmed. So it's, and we really tell them, you know, a lot of the message that our members really believe firmly in is we start with like, why do you take photos because when you say to a client, I'm going to help you organize your photos. It's kind of like I said, it's like watching paint dry. like nobody gets excited about that concept. But if you say to people, you know, what is it Why do you take photos? What did you know, what is the purpose of taking photos, and most people will start to tell you well, it's for a memory, I want to capture a memory of, you know, my child, or you know, first day of school or one of the babies are born, or all those reasons that we all know. And then we talk about, Well, those are their stories, we tell stories, with our photos today. It's our visual heritage, and video increasing video. And the problem is if you are just taking you know, 1000s of photos sandwiched between self selfie shots, and food shots and married you like these red shoes I'm buying today, in the middle of that is all your kids first day of school and things you're losing touch with your visual heritage. And then people really understand why this is so important.
Gary Pageau 2:49
There's a lot of technology that's being applied to that problem like Google Photos, and etc. But it seems to me like there still needs to be human intervention.
Cathi Nelson 3:00
A lot of people it's funny that people are really technology will say to me, Well, AI is going to solve this problem, right? And I say, I have a great visual, of course, run a podcast. But when I talk about this, I show a picture of my husband, I adopted my son as a newborn. holding this baby, I show his 23andme screenshot of when we found out what his genetic background was, we did a 23andme. And then I showed a picture of him standing with a young woman who looks adorable, and he's adorable. They're like the mid 20s. And she's holding flowers and I say, Okay, I will tell you that this picture especially the current picture was taken at Bradley International Airport that day, probably the type of flowers it'll facial. Recognize Joshua and Belinda, I don't know probably the person in the background that's fuzzy right now. And you know, it's gonna know everything right? And of course, what it doesn't know is that the first time that Joshua ever looked in the face of somebody who looked like him because we connected with a cousin through that 23andme experience Okay, that's what I can't do. That's what people that's what we do to kind of help tell those stories. Yeah, the content otherwise. So as much as AI can do a lot of things today, it's not going to do that. It's gonna find every dog picture on my phone. It's gonna find every cat picture, you know, but it's not going to tell me what what it is about that funny looking dog that I loved. Right?
Gary Pageau 4:11
So let's talk about what started as Savior photos day, but has now evolved into savior photos month, can you which is now September, so it's very topical. We want to talk about that. But first, how did you get how did it get started?
Cathi Nelson 4:25
You know, it's interesting, it was in 2014. Right when there was Hurricane Sandy came up the East Coast and then the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes happened. And then there were also floods in Calgary. And so we have an annual educational conference and it was in Dallas that year, and I had three different speakers on the main stage. A woman from Calgary who helped you actually when photos are submerged in water and things you can actually restore those you shouldn't throw waterlogged photos away. There's a whole process and she learned that process through donating her time. And so I had her speak I had a fellow a guy speak from Joplin, Missouri, who There's actually a pastor of a church. And they were as a church outlet. We're having people bring back photos that were blown 100 miles away or whatever, right?
Gary Pageau 5:07
I seem to remember that project. I mean, that got some a lot of media play at the time.
Cathi Nelson 5:12
It's still he's still doing it. They're still reuniting for people with those photos from Joplin, Missouri. It's amazing story. And then some people with remember the flip pals in the scanner, I have the fellow who on clip pal, he because he donated a lot of those little mini scanners to the in Hurricane Sandy. Anyway, we had him speak at the conference. And afterwards, we thought, Gosh, like what can we do beforehand? And we got together as a group and came up with this concept. What if we could educate people about do something with their photos before the disaster mean, especially getting them digitized, save backed up. And so that's where the idea of save your photos month came a day. And we decided to make the last Saturday in September. And we put together like an event kit and people we had I think over 150 200 events all over the world where people would do talks at museums that libraries at fire stations and stuff. And we would tell people about the importance of digitizing their photo collection.
Gary Pageau 6:02
And that was in 2014. Correct. And then when did it become a month long process?
Cathi Nelson 6:08
A couple years later, we realize first of all the last Saturday in September, believe it or not, is the day of every fall foliage, apple picking, you know, corn hotbed, I mean you name it everybody does it the last, so we were competing against a lot of things. And then people said Why does it have to just be one day? That was a really good point. So we decided, let's just make it the month. And we do and it's crazy now how these weather extremes. I mean, if we had any idea that we'd be talking about just in the past week, we've had, you know, hurricane, it just came through New Orleans and this, you know, they're still without power. And we had up here in New England, we had a I think it was hurricane Henry just came up from came up and hit where I live, and then the fires and you know, California, and it's not just the US, right? This is an international effort. And so you have those extreme weather conditions and things. So we decided to make it a month in 2016 and gay people. And then we got a lot more people involved. A lot of the photo retailers started getting involved with us. And you know, anybody that touches people in photos in any way can join in this effort.
Gary Pageau 7:08
What are some of the countries involved in save your photos month, because you said it's International.
Cathi Nelson 7:13
So we have members, we have members all over the world, because everybody, this is a worldwide problem, right? So we have members that do photo organizing in Portugal and in Brazil, and Mexico and Portugal and the Netherlands and the UK, Australia. So those folks all participate in this. And this year, we have, for the first time we have class a little mini classes in Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. So that gives you an idea just that we have an internet, you know, we have multiple languages at this point. And last year, when we switched, and because of COVID, we did it online, we were able to track what the top countries were in terms of viewing these little mini classes that we do now. And they included US, Canada, Australia, UK, Brazil, Netherlands, Kenya, New Zealand, Malaysia, and France. Those are the top countries so people want information and help
Gary Pageau 8:03
with their photos. So prior to last year, there were in person events, and you moved into virtual last year. And that's something you're going to continue with this year. Correct.
Cathi Nelson 8:13
Yeah, we were surprised just like everybody how I think when you went from in person events to virtual events that there was such a people adapted pretty quickly. So we suddenly found that we found much more success actually by taking, we put a call out for speakers and we asked our members community or anybody could be a speaker and our sponsors to put together what we call mini courses, right? Because Gary and I were laughing about the attention span of the average person today is pretty low, and mine included. So we thought well, what if we gave people like a little mini class like 15 minutes of short bit of information, like you know how to three top ways to scan your photos or three top ways. And we had we were shocked by the response. And so this year, we're repeating that we have over 40 Mini classes throughout the month of September. And then some This year, we're adding some live events where people can join in ask questions in real time. And we've been promoting that heavily. And we have a huge list of people joining every day to sign up to go to see those classes. And it's free once the cost to be involved. As an attendee to this nothing. There's it's free information and we keep it live through October 31. So we don't want to leave it live forever, because we do want people to come back year after year. So it's all these classes are free. And the benefit to the course producer the person who you know has donated their time to create a course is they get to make an offer at the end of the of their little course if they want to build their list or you know, whatever it is that they want to offer. We're, we're fine with that. So it's kind of a win win. It gives people credibility, and we do a lot of promotion around their talks. And then, but the consumer gets to watch these for free. So can you tell me a few of the presenters that you have so for our lot this year for the first time, like so we're doing every Wednesday we're doing a live zoom call where people can join in we have Matt Paxton. He's the TV celebrity from borders. Also on legacy lists, which is a PBS show. He's a expert in the downsizing world and has got a lot of sponsorships with AARP. He's a great guy, but you should have him on here. If you've not met Matt, you get along great with him. He's passionate about helping people. He goes into people's this legacy list. He goes in people's garages and does a whole film series about all the things that we what is our legacy, right? What are the photos, he finds boxes of photos, or, you know, old army jackets, or all sorts of things. And it's a very popular show on television. So he'll be one of our speakers. Rachel liqueur, Neeson who has saved family photos, on Instagram, she has almost 100,000 followers, she does one photo a day that people send it and tell a story about Yeah, and she gets a huge number of comments on that she's speaking Yeah, we have somebody called Miss Freddy, her name is Casey, she's like kind of a rock star in the, in the she's a millennial mom, who was a professional photographer doing kids photography, and then switched to remote Digital Photo organizing, and has, it has a long waiting list of of clients. And she also does a lot of training. And so she'll be speaking with us. And then many of you on the call may know I'm sure no Joel and gray from family marketing director of Fuji, she started a program called the photo gifters. And they'll be on talking about ways that you can, you know, fun things to do with your photos. Because the whole idea here is not to tell people again, there's a purpose to organization, it's really to get your photos back in your life, whether it's through gallery walls, photo books, you know, online galleries, some way that you can access and enjoy those photos. So we'll have a whole series of live conversations about that throughout the month. Then just thinking in terms of who the speakers are there. There are members, actually of our community who are expert, photo managers and photo organizers, and they've come up with cute little titles and everything from you know how to make sense of your old family photos. She was a former museum curator, the people that join us to do this for a living come with it from a really diverse background. So we have Adobe, you know, Adam, crap, maybe you've met Adam, I know if you've done anything with Adam yet, but He's, uh, you know, works for Adobe, he has a very successful photo organizing business at this point, right? So we've ever heard from Adobe Lightroom developers all the way to museum curators that just have a passion for this and want to offer it to clients and make money at it?
Gary Pageau 12:04
Well, I think you've touched on one of the things that makes this so important for people is it does intersect in a lot of different areas. And if interest places that people have, for example, people may be interested in family history, who don't really think about it, but photography is very important to that, you know, the old timey pictures that are maybe are surfaced by ancestry.com, or map my heritage or some of those, you know, those are golden, those are photographic memories that they may not have gotten into family history to discover photographic artifacts of their family. But there they are. And all of a sudden, those are golden. No, that's no that's what those are. wonderful thing. So I think what makes the photo organizers interesting are the different ways that intersect with different sectors of the marketplace. Because you have the family history side, you have the gifting side, you have the decor side, the photo book side, all of those areas intersect.
Cathi Nelson 13:00
Yeah, and especially you know, it's interesting, the family history, genealogy. We also have Carolyn Gunter, who's well known in genealogy speaking but absolutely, when, when you're suddenly if you get into family history, which we know is huge, right? And go to roots tech, or the ancestry.com, or anything photos is a big part of how you how you showcase those stories. You know, we have this amazing story of a family member who came over, you know, in the early 1800s, or something, if you can find a photograph of those people, it brings that whole story to life, right and video as well. One of our members just I just spoke with the other day, he actually worked for Chevron, he was a geophysicist for 40 years. But when Hurricane Harvey came through Houston, he was worried about his own family photos and decided to start a sidekick business doing scanning in retirement, and also movie conversion. And he talked about how emotional it was when he dropped off, you know, a conversion of a home movie and the woman. So that's the first time she'd heard her father's voice in 25 years, right? Those are the things that matter, right. That's what we intersect in all those places.
Gary Pageau 13:59
Now, this business has been around for over a decade. And probably longer than that, if we were be honest, but there doesn't seem to be an endpoint. It seems like there's more and more family history that's been covered. I mean, I still see here ads for you know, legacy box, and all the other players on the online marketplace. And then of course, you know, there's the retail people who are photo retailers and photo organizers who are involved in the market then there's the you know, the do it yourselfers, all the people who want to take on that task to scan their own pictures. And as someone who did that scan, you know, over 10,000 pictures of my own i'd hurt your arm to put your arm up to the scanner every few seconds. It's It's It's an arduous process, but there doesn't seem to be an endpoint.
Cathi Nelson 14:46
I don't think so especially now with the digital because, you know, right people are still uncovering. I don't know statistically you know what the numbers are. People still constantly are uncovering large family collections of photos and videos and things like that. The, you know, the analog version of it, but the digital. So we have some members who only do digital photo organized digital, basically, it's digital asset management, they're not calling it that, but they're taking, I mean, the average person, I think now they're getting people with 200 300 400,000 digital photos in multiple locations, the first thing they have to do is get them all out of, you know, they've got them in Dropbox, Google Photos, maybe Amazon, maybe they tried Miley Oh, for a while they tried this one, they tried that everybody, you know, and then get them all into one place, and then run deduplication software through it, and then get them tagged in a way so that they can find them and then put into like a photo gallery, whether it's smugmug, or forever, there's no permanent, there's a number of different companies that we interact with, that hasn't even begun yet. I think people are, there's a great line somebody said recently, you know, the funny thing is, everybody needs a photo man, photo manager, they just don't know it yet. Right? If you want access to those photos that you care about, which most people will if one is, you know, young parents today, when their kids get married, and you know, five, you know, say 10 years, and they want to put together that little great video that everybody loves to weep over watching the child grow up until they meet the love of their life. How are you going to do that if you haven't figured out some form of organization of all those photos, media files,
Gary Pageau 16:13
I know of a few businesses that interact with funeral homes, and they take those pictures and they do the end of life. Memorial celebration, either a book sometimes they're out now they're even doing books, or they're doing videos or doing something. And that's something that is incredibly impactful to families where, like you said, they may be seeing pictures that they didn't realize of, you know, the deceased as a young person, incredibly valuable to a family.
Cathi Nelson 16:42
Yeah, it mean, it's really it's a hard business. And and what's amazing about it is again, it's across all cultures, it's not you know, us or Canadian, or American English speaking phenomenon, we see it. You know, for instance, in Brazil, it's a big market in Brazil, they take a tremendous amount of photos, and they want to they want they care about those family photos and want to share those stories. It's really about the stories, I think, to me, photography is a visual way of telling a story. And and again, I throw in video, because it's I just think that's becoming a more Another common form of communication because of the access to do it on our phones. And, but really, why are you doing it? You know, what's the point? If you lost all that people like that's what we noticed in those in 2014 is, of course, it makes for great television or news media, when you find they always show that one family member picking the one the frame photo would sweeping the classroom,
Gary Pageau 17:37
because their pictures are incredibly valuable. And that is what people will reenter their home to get. They're not going to, you know, go back in for their CD collection, or their videotapes of movies. They read it they want the videotapes of their own family.
Cathi Nelson 17:53
Yeah, so that's really the the reason for save your photos month is just a way to kind of pull awareness to the general public. And then we've added this whole educational piece because we realized it wasn't that motivating to you know, like, Oh, you know, when a natural disaster coming in, you might lose all your photos. Of course, today that might be a little bit more realistic, because it seems to be happening in everywhere. You know, it's crazy these like look at Tennessee, I mean, just yeah, you know, crazy things that are happening, but at the same time, so we it's much more we've broadened it significantly and made it much more like a fun project. And we have a Facebook group we call advice from the pros, where you can you you know, we tell people, so I before I let them in, they have to agree to that they're not going to sell anything. So it's meant to be an educational only Facebook page. And they have to say what solve a problem they open this up. And I add now at this point 30 to 40 people a day, we're up to almost 4000 people in that little group all over the world. And it's amazing, I have this, I can tell you, you know, we can pull the spreadsheet up what it is that they say and it's always I need help. I'm overwhelmed. I have way too many photos on my phone or I have I inherited my grandparents, you know, photos for my grandparents and I just don't know what to do with them or I mean it's amazing the similarity right? You know, 1000s of people have given me the reason why they want to you know, they want advice and most of them don't know where to start where can people start to find out more information about save your photos month Yeah, just go to save your photos month that org or go to the photo managers calm and click on our on top bar, it'll say save your photos month, it's free. You want we only have to register once you'll get a email with all the classes will appear in your dashboard. You can watch them whenever you want at your overthrew the end of October. And we're still you know, if there's any sponsors interested, we do have quite a few wonderful companies that sponsored it's a minimal cost, but it just helps us you know, it's I've got three people on staff building out all these social media assets and you know, getting all the courses uploaded and things like that. So it's really not, it's really meant to be a give back campaign to the world and raise awareness for everybody.
Gary Pageau 19:53
So tell me a little bit about those resources you were just talking about because you've got something there every day for people.
Cathi Nelson 19:59
Yeah, so basically It's there's a courses that we have over four, we were trying to just do 30. But there were so many good courses. So there's a course a day people can watch, we have a challenge checklist that people can download where the people are motivated to actually do it in the 30 days, you know, set some goals and things that they want to do. It's every Wednesday at one o'clock Eastern Standard Time, starting tomorrow, Windows starting September 1, that we'll have our live our live zoom calls that people can join. And yeah, so we're, you know, hoping they can go to the Facebook group and ask to join advice from the pros, photo organizing advice in the pros. And if you're a pro listening to this, which I imagine most people are, that are listening to this, go ahead and join that and answer questions, we ask the pros to identify themselves like as a pro. And if you're looking for clients and things you can't sell yourself, but I know many of our members in smart marketers have learned to show up answering questions and eventually people will private message them because honestly, most people aren't going to do this themselves, you know that this is kind of a nice way to die people to it's interesting,
Gary Pageau 20:58
because it's a very personal process, right? Because the pictures mean a lot to yourself personally. But most people don't have the skills to actually effectively manage what they're doing, which is why they need help.
Cathi Nelson 21:09
Yeah, my whole I mean, we used to, I mean, at first, when I started this never dreaming, I'd have an association of 1000s, you know, hundreds of members all over the world offering this service. I called myself a personal photo organizer, because somebody wanted me to make a photo book for them. And I was like, You want me to make a photo book, a scrapbook? And I was like, Okay, let me go to your house. And let me get the photos. And then it was like, wow, these photos are a mess. I can't make a photo book unless I organize them in some way. So I call myself a photo organizer. And then I tacked on personal because I thought these are their personal photos. You know, it's a personal. And so Originally, we were personal photo organizers, then we're the Association of personal photo organizers. And 18 months ago, we switched the photo managers to grow into the future, because it's really a lot more about ads really a lot about about photo management on many, many levels. And not just photos, but videos and things as well. And so that just felt like a more current term for the future. Okay, well, thank you, Kathy, for your time and your expertise. And once again, where can people go for more information. So go to the photo managers comm or go to save your photos.org and you'll get access to all the classes and you know, lots of emails and support that will drive you and direct you to this through this process. And enjoy. Let us know if you watch some of these classes there. Again, they're short 1015 minutes so that he does take a lot of your time. But you'll hear from experts on lots of different topics.
Gary Pageau 22:29
Great. Well, thank you very much and look forward to hearing how well and how well it goes.
Erin Manning 22:35
Thanks, Gary. Thanks for having me. Thank you for listening to the dead pixel society podcast. Three more great stories and sign up for the newsletter at www the dead pixels society.com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai