By Cheryl Ryan
I’ve let my photos become an unwieldy mess of beautiful memories stashed in a closet. Years and years of photos and videos are hidden there. So when I was introduced to Beatrice Legrand, I was very intrigued by what she does as a professional photo manager. I wanted to understand what it would take to overcome my lack of photo organization once and for all and I thought you might want to meet her too.
What is your background?
Before moving here from France, 15 years ago, I was a scientist. I was a research physicist and consultant. When we moved here with our two children it was hard to work while taking care of the kids without any family support. And finding work while living in a new country presented its own challenges. So I didn’t go back to work and made being a Mom my priority. I’ve enjoyed my time as Mom but now that they are getting older I want a professional life again.
How do you describe your business?
I help my clients manage their personal picture and video collections. It started as a hobby of taking pictures of friends and family and creating photo story movies of our time together. My friends loved the final product and encouraged me to do it professionally.
Building a Business
How did you start your business?
We all have so many pictures and they get buried so we stop looking at them but, for me, reliving our memories regularly is really important and it became even more so since I lived so far from my family. It helped me share our lives with them. So once perfecting it for our family I started by taking small jobs at first. But during COVID my business really picked up because people had the time to go through their photos and wanted someone to make sense of it all.
My husband came up with the name Memory Trove and my sister-in-law came up with my logo. I started to look for other work while doing this but I kept coming back to photo management. I really like the technical part of doing it and learning better techniques to serve my client’s needs.
How do you ask your clients to organize and deliver their materials?
Most customers bring them to me in varying degrees of organization — or disorganization. They can be stored in boxes, photo albums or just big piles in paper bags. I’ve had some people mail them but that worries me that something may happen to their collection while in transit. Most of my business comes from the Bay Area (and there’s plenty here) and people can just drop them off and know that they’ve arrived safely.
I’ve gone to some customer’s homes but since most of my equipment is here in my home office it works better when the materials get dropped off. I still keep in close contact with my customers so that I fully understand their requirements. Obviously, the more organized they are the better. A lot of people have let things go for so long that they are completely overwhelmed. They just drop everything off and I go from there. I’ve had some people just ask me to get them onto a hard drive but I can’t help trying to get them into the best chronological order that I can.
How do you charge your clients?
Some clients simply want their collection digitized (which means taking a paper photo, scanning it and then turning it into a digital file) so that it can be accessed on their phone or computer. Others may want an old photo to be restored to make them print-ready (which will take longer). And some already have digitized photos that they want me to create a story from for an event or to give as a gift.
I charge by the photo for the technical-based part of the job. By that I mean, getting the photos ready and then and digitized. Then I charge $45 an hour for the organization, meaning the way in which I enter the digitized photos into the hard drive so that my clients can easily access them. Once I fully understand the requirements then I can give a more accurate estimate before beginning each project.
What is the craziest job you’ve been asked to do?
I work with a professional photo manager’s group. They have some stories but I really don’t. My one superhero moment is when my neighbor came over frantic on Thanksgiving because her camera was completely full. I emptied them onto a drive and she was so grateful to be able to capture her family’s Thanksgiving that year.
How do you deliver the finished product?
On a hard drive that is organized by categories specified by the client.
Once organized, what new technologies do you suggest people use to organize their current digital photos?
The bad news is there is no magic tool that I know of. Google photo and Apple all have photo libraries that you can use to find photos but it still requires an element of user organization. But full disclosure, I don’t know everything and technology is changing all the time so maybe someday there will be an app for that.
Also on Facebook, Instagram and Yelp under MemoryTrove