In this Career Advice from a Pro interview, Cathi Nelson interviews a Photo Manager new to the industry. If you’re thinking about joining The Photo Managers or making photo organizing your new career, this interview will help you get some insights from someone who recently started out on that same journey. 

Beverle Kane joined The Photo Managers in March 2020, a very uncertain time at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a retired airline employee, she had experienced many different cultures and communities around the world and was drawn to the worldwide aspect of The Photo Managers. She also was an experienced real estate agent, a graduate of the University of Indianapolis, and an avid salsa and swing dancer. 


How did you get interested in becoming a professional photo organizer?


I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I tend to think and organize. I had looked into NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers, and then I decided I don’t want to indulge and everybody’s treasure, I kind of want to leave that alone. At one point, there was a reference on their website about photo organizing that really caught my eye. A light bulb came on because I said, “Well, how cool would it be to learn about organizing photos and to help people tell their stories?”. 

At that time, I saw that The Photo Managers was holding an online summit in place of their in-person annual conference due to the pandemic. At the online summit, I didn’t know anybody at that time, so it was the members I met that really got me interested. Some favorite classes of mine were “Newbie to Guru” with Lida Bunting, “Know Your Profits” with Caroline Guntur, a class about nonprofits by Amy Brook-Hoffmann, and “How to Find High-End Clients” with Peter Bennet. So I paid for the summit, jumped right in, and at that point by business, Finesse Inherited Photos was established.


What do you wish you had known when you first started as a Photo Manager?


I do not have a photography background, nor do I have an IT background. So I was taken aback a little bit by all the technology involved. So I started educating myself to get myself more comfortable. So if you’ve got the background, if you’re really tech-savvy, or if you know about photos, you’re in a good place. If not, just start looking to educate yourself, there are a lot of resources. 

Some good advice I got from Lida Bunting, was that it’s always wise to create a team and surround yourself with supportive people. She also asked us to be selective with our purchases when it comes to new equipment. And then of course the big, big thing is to start networking. You could start doing that with your Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club.

Another thing I didn’t know when I first started was that this is a fast industry with so many services and products. There are printed photos, and things on your phone, but there are also archival things that you could do for museum archives, there are all kinds of documents that you can restore, there are photo books, there are wall frames, so there are just so many options.


What are some skills from your past work experience that you find helpful as a photo manager?


I was in Customer Service at USC Airways for years, but my real estate background has also helped me to build the skill base for working with people. Something I also learned from another organization I was in was to “eat the frog”. That means, if there’s something that you really are dreading to do, just go ahead and do that quickly and get it out of the way.


Are your clients local to you or in other areas?


One client I have, which is my sister-in-law, is over in Ohio, so I’m going to need to drive there. And I did propose to her, that if possible, I can work on-site because I didn’t necessarily want to have to bring everything back here. So that led to the question of “Should I charge her for travel time?” But I go to Cincinnati anyway and just want to make it convenient for both of us so that I can get it done. 

The Photo Managers is a global community, we’ve got members who are in Australia, Canada, there’s a Swedish organizer, and then there are members in England. Several members are working remotely. Some clients will try to use other big businesses that allow you to mail in your photo collections, but when they send them an unorganized mess, they get the same back. But if you send it to a Photo Manager, we are going to take care of it for you. It will be organized and you’ll also have organized digital files returned to you. 


How did you create an onboarding process for new clients?


One of my first clients was my daughter, who was not paying me. So I would send everything to my daughter first and she would critique it for me, just so that I stayed on a professional level. When we came to the contract part, I reached out to some experienced photo managers and a couple of people sent me ideas of what they used as a contract.


Watch the full video to learn more from the perspective of a photo manager new to the industry and what helped her to get started.