A long, rectangular water fountain with about an inch of moving water shows the reflection of a taller building just north of it. You can see some columns and about five windows. A leaf is also visible in the water on the right.

Reflections on Photo Refuge

Photo Refuge was established a couple of years ago, and I have been reflecting on its evolution the past few months.  Not only does my personal business continue to evolve, but the photo organizing industry as a whole experiences frequent change.  Software, applications, services, products, and technologies – businesses that photo organizers depend upon – are constantly exiting and entering the market and modifying pricing and services.

Since establishing Photo Refuge, I have attended two APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers) conferences.  At these conferences, I have come to understand that some organizers elect to offer a wide variety of services (my approach the past two years), while others choose to specialize in only a few areas.  I have also become more familiar with APPO’s sponsors and partners and the extent to which they overlap and complement the services of individual photo organizers.  

As a small business owner, there is also the matter of revisiting which parts of my business are most enjoyable versus the pieces that are less fulfilling.  This is something an individual can only determine with time and experience.  For me, the most rewarding aspects of this business are:

  • empowering individuals who feel overwhelmed with what they have acquired or inherited
  • identifying ways for individuals to really use and share their photos and videos
  • training and educating others on all of the resources available
  • helping older generations understand how to transform collections into a format that younger generations can access, utilize, and inherit

Accordingly, my focus at Photo Refuge will shift from performing digitization to collaborating with clients on solutions unique to their situations.  I look forward to:

  • working with clients to identify photographic memories on various media
  • determining the optimal approach for each collection and the desired outcome
  • developing a plan unique to each client
  • documenting quantities, vendors to assist, workflows for the pieces clients wish to handle, and best practices to follow
  • emphasizing the importance of multiple backups and migrating to new media and technologies over time

I will continue to have a hands-on role with my own family’s photo and video collections.  I still have many old albums, prints, negatives, slides, and tapes to digitize.  I also enjoy creating photo books and videos of present-day family vacations and events.  Continuing to work on my own collection will maintain my skill set, as will my membership in APPO.  

My role with clients will transition from hands-on to collaborative over the course of the next 12 months.  I will complete all hands-on client projects (whether one stage or multi-stage) to which I am committed.  With few exceptions, new projects will be a collaborative effort instead of hands-on.  I am excited for this next phase of Photo Refuge’s evolution; I felt an immediate sense of relief upon formalizing these changes on photorefuge.com, which has been updated accordingly (see the Media and Pricing pages).  

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