We are thrilled to applaud Susan as Photo Organizer of the month at Appo. Susan is the owner of Memories for Pride, based out of San Rafael, California. Susan combines her passion for photos with the community work she does in the LGBT community, for a unique business approach designed to help the LGBT community celebrate life through their photos.
Susan Berland has worked with 100s of clients helping them organize their photos and design beautiful photo books. Her clients range from Fortune 500 executives to us everyday folks. They tell her she is fun to work with and are amazed at the results she achieves. Her previous careers include professional speaker and trainer and she has spoken to groups as large as 1200 people and worked with hundreds of people teaching and supporting them. She is co-founder of a non-profit whose mission it is to raise awareness about the issues being faced by gay and lesbian families.
Our Interview with Susan:
1. What got you interested in photo organizing?
I’ve always taken a lot of pictures. I intended to document my children’s lives but I didn’t know how so I took pictures and sometimes I put them into albums, but it was always haphazard and never with any writing. I was young and I thought I’d always remember what the story was; what the picture was about. After my children were grown and out of the house and I had a backlog of 30 years of photos, I attended a workshop on scrapbooking. It was so much easier than I thought it would be and I started working on my photos taking the advice of the consultant – start with what’s current and stay current. Two years later I became a consultant and 2 years after that I began organizing my own photos. I wept as I went through my photos and realized that I’d lost the memories of those photos. Sometimes I didn’t even know which of my sons I was looking at and often I couldn’t tell what age they were. I knew then that there were many others like me and that I could help them. Our photos have a story to tell and my mission is to help people tell the story of their photos.
2. How did you hear about Appo?
Initially I heard about it when a friend of mine became Facebook friends with a member. I looked into it and dismissed it. I thought I was already doing what I needed to do and I didn’t need APPO. Then I attended the Creative Memories National Convention and the fates had other plans for me. I arrived late and couldn’t figure out how to get to the hotel. I found 3 women from Canada and asked if I could share their taxi into town. I ended up sitting next to a lovely woman who was pretty high up in leadership in Creative Memories (turned out it was Lisa Kurtz!) and she was talking to me about APPO all the way into town. I’m thinking to myself, “Why does she need something like that? Maybe I should rethink this.” When I returned home, I tracked down the Facebook friend of my friend, Phillip Charles Griffith, and asked him if would mind talking to me about APPO. He spent an hour on the phone with me and what sold me was when he said, “I recently was in a customer’s house for a project and saw a large basket of photos still in the envelopes. I pulled out a power sort box and said this is what I recommend for organizing those. She took two. You see, she sees me as the expert and so it’s easy.” I’m paraphrasing but I knew then that it was time to step and join a professional association.
3. What is the most valuable lesson you took home from the certification program?
I learned a lot from the certification program, but for me, I would say the lesson was a more general one. No matter how much experience I have, no matter how long I am in business, there is still so much more to learn and continuing my education in ways like certification is essential to providing the best service I can to my clients. 4. What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Appo community? The community feel of it, the way that members are so willing to share with one another. I love that there is not a feeling of propriety, competition, but instead a feeling of community, a willingness, even an eagerness to help each other. There is so much encouragement and support, it makes me glad every day I joined this community!
5. What has been your most rewarding experience as an organizer?
That’s always hard to choose, isn’t it! Recently a BNI colleague lost her mother. She mailed her photos to me while I was on vacation. I had taken my flip pal scanner with me and I scanned the photos and created a guest book for the memorial service as well as a memory book. She was very close to her mom and in fact lived with her for the last 15 years of her life. She was devastated at her loss. She shared with me how much everyone loved the books, but more, how much they meant to her and how they help keep her mother’s memory alive for her. I was so touched and honored to be able to do that for her.
6. Do you have any words of wisdom for other new members?
Keep an open heart when working with your clients. It is such a personal job we do. And ask a lot of questions in our Facebook group. There is so much wisdom and experience among our members. And finally, come to conference! It is where you will learn and create relationships that will last a lifetime.