Last year I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Cathi Nelson, the CEO and founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. Cathi was writing her first book, Photo Organizing Made Easy, and interviewed individuals and photo organizers about their various projects. I shared my photo story with her and I was honored to be chosen for inclusion in the book. The essays range from accounts of Holocaust survivors to lessons from a Photo Therapist to creating a Lifebook for an adopted child. All of the essays are moving testaments of the deep and sustaining value that photos have in capturing and preserving the stories of our lives.

My photo story revolved around a meeting that took place a decade ago. I didn’t know my late father or his family, and decided to do some genealogical research. My internet sleuthing lead me to New Jersey and California. As a result, I met two of my aunts, an uncle and several cousins. My aunts gave me photos I’d never seen before of myself as a small child, as well as images of my father and his siblings and parents (my grandparents). Being able to meet these remarkable people and finally hear their stories, share meals and learn a bit about my dad and their relationships with him was deeply moving, as he had died 5 years prior. Most important, it provided a sense of closure for me. The prints are an integral part of my history and a treasured addition to my personal photo archive. They are also digitally scanned and backed up for safekeeping, something I highly recommend to all my clients.

If you have a personal photo project in mind but are unsure of where to start, Cathi’s book is the perfect how-to manual. Each chapter is devoted to a different topic and features simple steps you can take as well as her recommendations. There are also the aforementioned photo stories, which tie it all together.

If you find yourself lost in the weeds, there is always help at www.APPO.org. It’s easy to search the directory and find a photo organizer near you. Although I’ve been working with photos for many years, this book has provided new insights and helpful links as well as new tips. Photo Organizing Made Easy is a great go-to resource for both newbies and pros alike. You can find Cathi’s book here and here.