What would happen if you lost all of your photos in a fire or flood? Do you have backups stored in the cloud? 

With wildfires, floods, and hurricanes plaguing the United States, this could be a good time to put a plan together. Sometimes we take it for granted that we’ll always have our photos. They tell our family histories—their events and milestones—and celebrate the moments that make up our lives. But natural disasters are an increasing threat to our homes. 

Every September, The Photo Managers, a community I started in 2009, holds in-person and virtual classes that educate and inspire people to save their photos. This year—in collaboration with professional photo organizers, photo retailers, and related companies—we have 30 days of classes organized around four themes: gathering, organizing, story-telling, and bringing photos to life

More than anything, our hope is to inspire people to put in a little bit of work in exchange for peace of mind and the protection of their family legacy through photos.

Our Photos Tell the Story of Our Lives

One of the photo manager members, Nancy McFarland, runs SoCal Photo Solutions, a professional organizing service in Southern California, a region prone to natural disasters, like fires and mudslides. “I had one client whose house had burned down—literally down to the ground,” she says. “And she was arguing with her husband about grabbing the photos, which were in a concrete garage. He said, just leave them, they’ll be fine. And the door blew off and they weren’t fine. I went to her house, which was still smoking, the fire department had been there, so there was water everywhere. Her photos were burnt and wet—and they were in boxes.”

Taking what she had learned in professional photo management certification, Nancy got to work. “The photos were literally bricks, hard, melted bricks, all burnt, but when you soaked them, you could peel back the layers, and inside were real photos. We soaked them, hung them up to dry, and then flattened them.”

Nancy was able to salvage 2,500 photos of her client’s treasured memories—her childhood photos, her wedding photos, her pregnancy photos, and photos of her kids. “She thought they were all lost, and now, they’re so happy. He even said to me, ‘Thank God you saved my marriage!’”

Start Saving Your Photos Now

There’s never a bad time to start saving your photos. Save Your Photos Month features 40+ pre-recorded mini-classes presented by industry professionals, many of whom I know personally. These sessions can prepare you with the know-how you need to tackle your photo projects—or even launch a business as a Photo Manager. 

Sign up here to learn more about keeping your photos safe—before disaster strikes.

About Cathi Nelson

Cathi Nelson is the leader of a global photo organizing movement. A cutting-edge entrepreneur and speaker, in 2009 she founded The Photo Managers,  the leading organization and certification program in the photo management industry. She’s been featured in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Real Simple Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal about how to organize and preserve the legacy of your family heritage through photos.