Weronika Gasperczyk is a Photo Manager in the seaside city of Gdansk, Poland. Before becoming a Photo Manger, she enjoyed two other career paths. Her first career was in project management and consulting. Later, before becoming a mother, she built a career as an interpreter from scratch. Utilizing the business skills she acquired in these other industries, she now spearheading the field of photo management in Europe.
We asked Weronika to tell us about how she got started and what advice she has for those joining the growing industry of photo management today.
What was the turning point that made you want to get into photo organizing?
The first time I thought about photo organizing was when my phone got destroyed. I smashed it on an escalator and, even though it had a great case, it got completely destroyed. At that time it wasn’t feasible to try to repair it and all the photos on there were lost. Before I had a child, our photos were managed neatly in catalogs. But after my daughter was born, we started having images downloaded from multiple cameras with no dates or any organizing, so we didn’t really know where our photos went. When the phone broke, I wasn’t even sure which photos I lost. I was quite sad about that.
My second pivotal moment was while making a photo book for my parents, which are my daughter’s grandparents. I spent dozens and dozens of hours selecting photos for that photo book. It was that exact moment when I said, “No, I’m not going to go down that lane again!” That experience allows me to relate to how our clients feel. They often don’t know where their photos are or they may know that there are a couple of folders with photos, but they don’t know what’s there. And when they think about the photo book or any photo present that they would like to make, they just say no and give up.
These two moments were what made me want to get into photo organizing and I think that many clients have these moments as well. They already know that they are in chaos, but they don’t really know what to do. In many cases, especially here in Poland, people don’t even know that professional photo managers exist and could help them.
What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started as a photo manager?
It all depends on where you are located. If they’re located in Poland, definitely, you have to be part of The Photo Managers. That’s the first thing because, without the knowledge or the training, it will be so difficult to start out.
Anywhere in the world, I would tell people to start with their own photos. Once they get comfortable with their own photos, then work with your family, friends, or anyone who you feel comfortable with. We can have dozens of training courses, but there are so many things that you can only learn while doing the actual job. I’ve never heard someone say that they started out working with clients too early. Everyone says they started too late. In most cases, our clients are lovely people and they are happy to learn alongside us, especially if these are our friends or family.
In my case, for example, I’m learning a lot about Macbooks and iPhones. I offered to work with my daughter’s Kindergarten pro bono, and I’m managing their photos now. This gave me an opportunity to discover the ins and outs of Macs and iPhones with a friendly client who understands that I’m still learning.
As a Windows user, how have you dealt with learning to use Apple devices?
I have always been a Windows and Android person, I’ve never known any other system. My husband used to own an iPhone, so I knew that the system is different and that you work in it differently.
I must say that if you are proficient with Windows, it will probably only take you half an hour or an hour to learn how to work with a Mac and to know the majority of the important items that you need to know. Even though these systems are different, I learned that there is logic behind how they work. If you follow that logic and write down some shortcuts, everyone can get comfortable with the other system. Another piece of advice would be to start with what you know. If you’re a Windows and Android person, start with that. Piece by piece, you can learn the other systems through training and hands-on work.
What other tools do you think are key for photo managers?
There is a fair amount of project management in our job. Most of the photo managers I know have multiple projects that they’re working on in different stages. With that in mind, a way of project management is needed. If you’re a paper person I would advise starting from there. If you love apps and systems like me, because I’m certainly a gadget person, I recommend Asana. I used it before I was a photo manager, and I love using it. To me, it’s quite logical. It’s easy to follow and I can arrange the projects the way I like.
If you’re working with digital files you also need a good computer, and definitely training. When you’re working with physical photos, you need to have scanning equipment, and there are a couple of avenues that you can follow. But when it comes to digital photos, starting out with a good computer is enough.
What skills from your previous careers have been useful to you as a photo manager?
Project management and knowing how to build a business, have both been useful. Being the first photo manager in Poland, I have to do marketing for a whole industry! I sometimes envy US or UK colleagues, because there are more of us there. That enables them to refer clients to each other. Here in Poland, I need to do a lot of work with Instagram, Facebook, etc., and many times people do not understand what I’m doing, so I have to inform them about what a photo manager does. So certainly understanding how to look for customers and build a business from scratch is a skill I’m bringing with me from my previous careers.
What strategies are you using to build awareness about photo organizing in Europe?
I use both Instagram and Facebook, but I see that more people who are interested in photos are on Instagram.
I also have my own website and blog where I publish articles. This is a great way to help people out through some content that you write. It’s also a way to show off your expertise and create awareness of your services. When someone is looking to create a photo book, create something else from photos, or even find some advice on how to manage photos, it’s great to be there online. That way, they can find you.
One of the things that I’ve learned through building this business is that there are many different stages of awareness for clients. In Poland, for example, people are not even aware that professional photo organizing exists. Some people, though, are aware that they need help with their photos. Other clients don’t even know they have a problem or that they need to back up their photos. Depending on the level of awareness, you need to have some different types of content available for them online.
What is your process for publishing blogs or special media posts?
It depends on how I feel about Instagram at the time. There are moments when I’m so mad at Instagram because they often change the functions, and what posts they promote.
I used to post regularly twice a week but now I do more stories and I try to create some reels. I enjoy using Instagram because I have a great crowd there. Many of them are very interested in photos and were very supportive. When I hear people are using my advice, it gives me the energy to go forward. Not many people comment on blog posts right now, so the feedback you get instantly on Instagram is rewarding.
Where do you find new clients?
Right now I’m talking to everyone I can about photos or letting them know what I’m doing. I’d encourage new photo managers to post some information online to their friends or family or people who know them from previous jobs. Let them know you’ve changed your career or think about those you know who may need help with their photos. It didn’t occur to me for a year to do that, but when I did, I managed to get some leads!
Another avenue that I will be following now is offering micro-services as a way to show people how I can help them and show off some of my work.
Because people in Poland would be unlikely to search for a photo manager in Google, as they are unaware of this service, I need to work around that. For example, I try to find people who want to create a photo book or want to have a mosaic or a collage of photos made. I think of these micro-services as an introduction to my world. Then they will know what a photo manager is and contact me if they need help with their photos in the future.
My family is very proud of me and also helps me promote my services. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain what I do so to help with this, I came up with some short sentences that they can use when they want to talk about my business.
What do you love most about your new career as a photo manager?
I absolutely enjoy working with photos! I am so proud that I can have a job where I can help people find their memories and re-live past moments. It is so important to me for children to have photo books and albums they can flip through, not just images on smartphones or computers.
Another thing that I absolutely love about this job is being part of The Photo Managers. I was so thrilled to see that there is an organization that teaches both photo managers and people who want to do it themselves. What was most surprising, and pleasing, for me is that I can be part of a community that is extremely helpful. I’ve never been part of a business or professional community that would help each other out so much. If you have a problem and ask a question in our members-only Facebook group, you’ll quickly have dozens of ideas on how to solve that problem.
At the last conference, I was really surprised to see that people share their business models, their pricing, and examples of their projects. I’ve never encountered anything like that when I was an interpreter – everyone was too afraid of someone else stealing their ideas! In The Photo Managers, everyone has been very supportive and you have many people to interact with so there is always something great to learn.
How else has being a member of The Photo Managers helped your business?
First of all, there is plenty of training available for free when you are a member, as well as additional training you can purchase. I absolutely loved the conference during which everyone shared their experience. There was networking available both in-person and online, and I never thought that networking online could be so pleasant! It really felt as if I was standing at a table with people from the US. Even though I was in a different timezone, I still felt like part of the community. I’m really thrilled to see the possibilities that The Photo Managers opens up to us and the training that is available.
What has been the most challenging part of becoming a photo manager?
Finding customers, preparing a marketing plan, and trying to have sales conversations are all challenging, especially when you’re the only person in your country doing this job, as I am in Poland. As an entrepreneur, without a whole corporation behind you, there are so many things that you need to do all at the same time and that can feel overwhelming.
How do you balance growing your business with doing the work?
It is a balancing act! I like to design a model week for myself with blocks of time for each type of task. For example, I’ve set a certain amount of hours each day to do client work. At other times, I’m doing work for the company. I love working in time blocks, it’s something that is helping me a lot.
What advice would you give to people who are just starting out in photo organizing?
Start small. Don’t start out thinking you will do photobooks, digital organizing, scanning, and everything all at the same time. It takes time to get trained in all of these avenues. Start from what you know. If you’re very comfortable with computers, do that. If you prefer prints, follow that path.
Once you’re part of The Photo Managers community, you will see that there are people who are very specialized. What we do is already a niche, but you can even niche down more and do something very, very specific for your clients.
My second piece of advice is to start with awareness among your friends, colleagues, and family. Make sure they know what you are doing and more or less what this process looks like. Then, when they hear that someone can’t find their photos or their phone is full of photos and overflowing, there may be an opportunity for them to talk about your services. Very often we don’t think about this, but people around us really, really want to help us.
Watch the full interview below to hear more from Weronika including how she sets her pricing and answers to more questions from the audience.
#1: Start small. Choose the systems that you already know to start your photo organizing business. You can always expand later!
#2: Make sure your friends and family are informed about what you do so they can be your best promoters!
#3: Just get started! You will not regret starting your first professional project as soon as possible. It’s the best way to learn!