Sunday, August 19, 2012
Two Tips for Budding Professionals
Here are two tips that will get budding professionals on the right track if they start from the beginning.
1) Take lots of photos
I know, you are thinking, "Is she serious?!!" Yes, I am absolutely! There are many tracks you can follow in genealogy. You can focus on client research, you can be a speaker or a writer. Very likely you will probably do a little bit of everything. Copyright is a huge issue for all professionals but genealogists are particularly sensitive to it. If you start taking your own photos right from the beginning you will build a large resource library where you don't have to worry about copyright (except perhaps someone stealing one of your photos!). In the process you will save a lot of money by not buying stock photos and you will save a lot of time by not scouring the internet for public domain or creative commons photos.
Consider this - the more advanced you become in your career the greater the need you will have for photos. Your PowerPoint presentations will need to have photos to liven them up. If you have a blog you will have a constant need for a steady photo supply. Even writers benefit from being able to supply their publishers with relevant photos. Client reports benefit from the addition of gravestone photos, historic house photos or other items relevant to the research project.
Get in the habit of taking your camera where ever you go for work. Take photos of the repository and archive buildings that you visit. That will prevent the temptation to "borrow" one from their website. Take scenic snapshots of geographic areas that your research focuses on. Take photos that relate to your specific niche.
I took the photo above during a walk today. I don't have a specific use for it right now but I can imagine I will certainly need it sometime in the future. I could use it in a talk on symbols used in cemetery research or a talk about researching fraternal organizations. This segues nicely into my second tip...
2) Organize your photos from the start
You will amass a large collection of photos if you get in the habit of carrying your camera with you at all times. It will only take a matter of weeks before catching up with your backlog becomes overwhelming. Many photo programs import photos to your computer by date. That's how mine are organized. Occasionally I have taken the time to label a folder by event and/or year. Most of the time I am in a hurry to clear space on my camera so I dump the photos and continue shooting. I've got a right mess on my hands!
I know what photos I have taken but I can't always put my hands on them when I need them. This is a problem when you are in a crunch to create a PowerPoint presentation or to finalize a blog post.
To fix this problem you need an easy drag and drop tagging system. Geoff Rasmussen did a great webinar about organizing photos. He talked about the free program, Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Elements which can cost in the $60-99 range. I got Picasa right away but wanted something more robust for organizing my photos.
I'm working on a number of projects right now that involve collecting and organizing lots of photos. I've been getting so frustrated by my inability to put my hands on the photos that I have. So I bit the bullet and bought Photoshop Elements today. As soon as it arrives I'm going to spend an hour or two every day to get my thousands of work related (and personal) photos tagged appropriately.
It doesn't matter what system or program you use to organize your photos. The important thing is that it works in such a way that you can put your finger on the photos you need in three minutes or less. If it takes longer than that you might want to consider revising your sytem.
There are many things that can get you headed in the right direction as your begin your professional career. Photos are just one example that can create a backlog later. Get a handle on them now and get yourself off to a great start.
Posted by Marian Pierre-Louis at 7:37 PM