by Mandi Zucker

My grandfather was a natural photographer. He would come over when we were kids and do “modeling shoots” with us. We’d clear a table in the den, sit in the middle of it and pose. He always had a camera with him.

And it wasn’t just his grandchildren that inspired him. He had documented his life way before we were born. When he died, we found treasures in shoeboxes and old albums tucked under his bed and in the closets. Cleaning out his apartment after his illness, we found “gold” hidden away. A pilot in WWII, he photographed both the horrible brutality as well as the miracles of love that cannot be defeated even in war.

When I found those photographs, I knew I had to preserve both the history as well as his spirit. I didn’t know exactly what I needed to do with them so I waited until I was able to clear my head and figure it all out.

But it was too late. My grandmother, in her own grief, threw the photos and mementos away. Perhaps it was too painful to look through them. Or maybe she was too overwhelmed with the thought of organizing and preserving them. But nonetheless, they were gone to me, and future generations of my family, forever.

I’ve heard it all before. So many clients call after a loved one has died, overwhelmed with the thought of taking hundred of photos, notes, cards and letters and making something meaningful out of them. Where do they begin? How do they determine what to save and what to get rid of? And what means do they want to use to celebrate the memories- a photo album, slideshow, frames, or something else?

I love being able to meet people and help them celebrate their photos in a way I wasn’t able to with my own grandfather. I honor him every time I make an album preserving someone else’s family history. And I think he’d really like my albums!

Mandi Zucker is a personal photo organizer and certified grief recovery specialist.  She combines her passion for photo preservation with her bereavement skills to provide a safe, comfortable space for clients to make meaning out of their photos. For more information, contact Mandi at or 908-403-8030.