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Keepsake Boxes, Remembrance Boxes, Memento Boxes - Boxes Abound!

June 14, 2023

Boxes, binders, and bins, oh my! Maybe you know them as keepsake, remembrance, memento, or memorial boxes. Some boxes even mirror the purpose of a binder, with tabs by topic, checklists, and pouches for loose keys, thumb drives, and other small and useful or meaningful objects. 

No matter what, before you stick any ‘stuff’ in your box of choice and slap on the lid, Artifct it to remember what it is and why it mattered. Unlike boxes, Artifcts are:

      • Instantly and perpetually organized and searchable 
      • Fire and flood proof (some boxes might be, too, up to a point …); no go-box required! 
      • Able to combine text, video, audio, and photos for every item 
      • Easily shareable and accessible online to anyone you choose, anywhere, anytime 
      • Do not take up space or require dusting

And, obviously, the stuff inside your Artifcts collection will not run the risk of outlasting your memories like a box full of stuff will. The memories are captured and preserved. You are no longer the keeper of the memories or the single point of failure behind the mementos. Breathe a sigh of relief!

Keepsake Box Options Abound

For those of us who relish holding onto those curated items that mean the most, we’ve tried to distill here what we’ve learned about the variety of boxes available.  

Many major retailers, like Crate and Barrel, The Container Store, Pottery Barn, Target, Hallmark, and Amazon, sell at least one or two. So, we know there’s demand, people are looking for them. We suspect from how they are marketed that a box makes for a simple and obvious gift for special occasions. You’ll see below that the options and qualities vary. There is something for most needs, styles, and price points! 

(Listed in alphabetical order.) 

    • Akin offers custom boxes that fit and showcase the curated items you have chosen to help tell your story - whether it’s memorabilia, journals, photographs, documents, records, or more. What further sets Akin apart is that it offers services bundled around the box for custom-designed books and genealogy research to help commemorate family stories and ancestral histories.

"Present and preserve your keepsakes as opposed to hiding them away. A curated memorabilia box not only holds your most treasured pieces, it should tell their origin story—beautifully and archivally—so they can be cherished and shared for years to come," explained Renee Innis, Akin Founder.

    • Archival Methods offers archival boxes as well as a whole product category for “object storage.” They have additional custom options for fitting objects more snuggly in the boxes, too. 
    • Etsy is a logical choice for creative and custom options you’ve never even knew existed, offering a wild variety of sizes, styles, and materials to match your purpose or occasion. 
    • Nokbox is more about functional preparedness, organizing all of the critical information about your life in a box. If you’re going to store and rely on hardcopy, however, we strongly encourage a digital equivalent (e.g., Keylu, GoodTrust, Trustworthy ...). Digital options are more flexible, easier to update, and accessible from anywhere. 
    • Petite Keep offers more traditional aesthetics for its boxes, sort of a Pottery Barn or Draper James feel, with customization for initials, patterns, etc. 
    • Savor, in contrast to Petite Keep, offers a cleaner, more basic style like you might find from archival-quality sources. Its collection has expanded to offer drawers for vertically oriented boxes, built-in envelopes, and more to cover whatever ‘stuff’ you might have in mind to combine.  

Need we say it again? Just as we tell you “Before you store it, Artifct it,” before you box it, Artifct it. And slip your Artifcts collection QR code inside for safe keeping of all those stories, videos, and more from your Artifcts collection. Your future self will thank you! And if you need a little help getting started, check out Artifct concierge options. ->

My Artifcts homepage with option to create personal collection QR code

 
 
 
Each Artifct has a QR code as does your Artifcts Collection. Access it from My Artifcts -> 

Before We Go, a Word to the Wise: Know What You’re Buying

Archival does not always mean archival. What? Yes; sad truth. Sometimes archival only means the paper is acid free. And if you are a proponent of recycled paper, you have another potential recipe for disaster once you shut objects inside and create a little microclimate for terrible things to brew.

If you are popping items into a box that you truly cherish, do the homework on your archival products, or speak to a professional. You can contact nationwide companies like Archival Methods—one of our Allies in 'Stuff'—and Gaylord Archival or seek out archivists in your local area for guidance, products, and services.

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Stuck in the Middle, With Stuff: The Sandwich Generation

Reading time: 4 minutes

Got stuff coming at you from both ends – kids and parents? Feel like the peanut butter and jelly mushed in the middle of a generation sandwich? 

Well, I do. I’ve got stuff coming at me from my mom and dad80 years of collections and counting—as well as stuff I still can’t shake from 26+ years of parenting. Bottom line, it’s a lot of stuff.  

Until recently, I felt that having lots of stuff required having bigger spaces and storage, lots of storage. The responsibility fell on me to keep it all and be ready to receive more if or when my parents are gone and as my kids move out but are not yet willing to “receive” their stuff. 

Times and circumstances changed quickly for me, however, and my “storage unit” mentality shifted from “more is better” to “why do I have all this stuff, and do I really need it.” I have moved and downsized twice over the past three years, forcing me to take a hard look at what I have, what I need, and what I want to keep for my kids. Thankfully for me, Artifcts came into being just as I was embarking on my first downsize.    

What I See Now When I Look at My Parents’ Stuff 

On my mom’s side of the fence, she has lots of stuff. Some of it is really important—mementos of her early days with my father, pieces of family history she’s carefully curated over generations. She is certainly the family-keeper. Other things are, well, I assume just things. The problem is sometimes I’m wrong.   

Take for instance a brick that was tucked in the back of her hutch. Family heirloom or home improvement project gone awry? Family heirloom! Turns out it is a brick from the church she and my father were married in way back when. HOW was anyone supposed to know? Even she admits that she only told me the story when I had the brick in my hand, ready to put it in the garbage bag. Family history crisis averted. Family history Artifcted. 

 

Family history, Artifcted!

I’ll give my mom a lot of credit—she’s Artifcted over 200 items, a lot of them we’ve done together, or she’s done with her grandkids. She’s led the way in capturing and sharing our family history through Artifcts. I know she has a lot more to do, and I am hoping to get other family members involved in helping her in the months ahead. 

My older brother retires in a few months, which I think makes him the perfect person to pass the baton to as our family history documenter/Artifcter. As he combs through the generic and obvious stuff, I’ll ask him to put aside anything with a possible story or deeper meaning. The 12-year-old food cans in the cupboard are trash. But what about the vintage kid art (did I make that?), the scraps of cloth in a bin (unfinished baby blanket?), or gold Egyptian hieroglyphic pendant (travel memento?). Those unknowns must have a story behind them. We are lucky that our mom is still with us, and that she is there to tell us the stories as we decide what to the keep, toss, or donate.  

The Kids’ Items Got Some Tough Love, Too 

On the kid’s side, oh – that’s the guilt factor! I have those odd drawings, the report cards, the clay ceramic blobs shaped like an abstract [insert word here]. The kids just look to their futures and walk out of their rooms without even dusting. After months, you go in and look around and find things that you wish you hadn’t found. Then, you realize they’re not coming back to clean it out. Then you realize you’re moving and they’re still not coming back to help.   

For me, I packed up what I thought was important and then started Artifcting the things that I knew were important but would sit in a box FOREVER if I hadn’t Artifcted them. What’s the point of boxing things up if you’re never going to look at them again?   

Yes, the kids may get upset that I didn’t keep their heartthrob concert poster signed by [insert name of a not so famous side-stage performer], but a quick Internet search revealed it would cost more to buy a poster tube than the poster was worth. What to do when faced with such a tough decision? Well, Artifct it and be done with it! If the kids complain, I’ll show them the memory, have them add to the story, and make a real moment out of it. 

The moral of this tale is simple: sandwich life is tough enough without all the stuff weighing you down. Artifct! Artifcting has enabled me to document our family stories, enjoy reliving moments with my family, and most importantly, let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter! Well, at least not all of the stuff. My wife likes to remind me that we still have bins that have not been opened since the last move, but that’s another story and task for another day.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Photos + Stories Go Better Together: A Conversation with Cathi Nelson, CEO of The Photo Managers

Reading time: 6 minutes

One of the great things about being in the ‘stuff’ business is that you never know who you’ll meet! Over the past few years, Ellen and I have had the joy of getting to know and working with Cathi Nelson, Founder & CEO of The Photo Managers. We met Cathi by way of Matt Paxton, who told us upfront that she is the end-all, be-all expert on all things photo managing and organizing. Several years and many conversations later we wholeheartedly agree!

In honor of Save Your Photos Month, we thought it would be fitting to highlight one of our many conversations with Cathi, who really is the undisputed expert on all things photo organizing. 

Heather Nickerson: Tell us a bit about yourself! What led you to get into photo managing?

Cathi Nelson: Reflecting on my career, I realize there has always been a common theme: My love of photography and storytelling. Prior to starting The Photo Managers, I spent 17 years teaching people how to create meaningful scrapbook photo albums. I hosted large events where hundreds of women would come and spend the entire weekend working on albums for their families. Walking around the room, I realized this was more than people cutting photos into shapes and adding decorations. This was a way for people to share their legacies, and photos invoke memories and stories. 

By 2009, I noticed a significant shift in the photography landscape. The rise of digital photography meant that fewer people were printing their photos, and this change impacted my business. The turning point came when a customer asked how much I would charge to organize her digital and printed photos. It was at this moment that I realized there was a growing need for assistance, and I started a business called Photos Simplified.

Nickerson: So you started your own, wildly successful business, why not stop there? Why start The Photo Managers? You were obviously very busy with your own work, raising your family, and authoring your book! What prompted you to create a global network of like-minded professionals?

Nelson: The response from clients to my new business concept was overwhelmingly positive. As other scrapbooking professionals and residential organizers started learning about my success, they came to me seeking guidance in starting their own photo-organizing businesses. I realized that to ensure this emerging profession continued I would need to create a code of ethics, certification, and best practices, thus The Photo Managers was born. I chose a membership model, and over the years we’ve grown into a global community of hundreds of professionals dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich tapestry of memories in our digital age. 

Nickerson: And then you did it again with Save Your Photos Month (SYPM)! Tell us a bit about how and why you started SYPM. I think a lot of people take for granted that SYPM is the month of September, except it wasn't until you built it!

Nelson: I launched Save Your Photos Day for the first time in 2014 as a one-day event. The concept grew out of viewing news stories about people being united with lost photos from Hurricane Sandy and the Joplin Missouri tornadoes. I would watch the news and it was so heartwarming to observe how people rose up to help, bringing food, water, clothes, and kindness.

Once the initial shock wears off a new wave of recovery efforts evolves, finding and restoring lost photos. Hundreds of volunteers have helped in these communities, carefully washing and restoring photos. Their efforts pay off when a family that has lost everything is reunited with even one precious photo. Thus, the concept of International Save Your Photos Day began.

The original concept was to save thousands of photos in just one day. Yet we found that one day just wasn't realistic and realized, why not make it a month!  So, in 2016 we rebranded it to Save Your Photos Month and each year we expand the variety of topics, classes, and conversations. Today this is even more important as the news is full of extreme weather disasters that impact family photos and priceless belongings.

Nickerson: Any tips for our Arti Community Members who are feeling overwhelmed by digital and physical photos? They know they want to do something with them, but don't always know where to start or what to do.

Nelson: First you aren’t alone if feeling overwhelmed. Most do, including me! Second, it didn’t take a weekend to create all those photos, so it does take time to sort through and organize them, but it’s worth it! 

Here is a quick summary of our 5 tips for photo organizing.

      1. DEFINE YOUR GOAL, what would success look like?
      2. GATHER EVERYTHING and ACCESS what you’ve got. This can be as simple as “3 hard drives,” “4 iPhones,” and “5 boxes of printed photos.”
      3. SORT and CATEGORIZE—sort the photos into categories that make sense to you. Categories might include location, date range, events, products, or something thematic like “landscapes.” Edit your collection as you go, discarding or deleting duplicates and any blurry or “not so great” images.
      4. If you have any printed photos or slides, now is the time to scan. Decide if you want to do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.
      5. SHARE . And the options are endless … Artifcts, photo books, websites, slideshows, even the collection itself!

Nickerson: When should you consider hiring a photo manager?

Nelson: When life happens! I just hired a photo organizer myself because my son was getting married, and I wanted to create a video montage of his early years and his fiancé's early years set to music. I just didn’t have the time to scan the photos or sort through hundreds of images. It was so worth it! So, my advice is don’t put this off, hoping someday you’ll have the time.

Nickerson: We've heard our own Arti Community Members say—when they first learn about photo managers —"Ooh, they're like magic photo fairies, how cool." We know they work magic with photo collections large and small, but what are two or three things that make photo managers so special?

Nelson: This is a great question, and I have thought a lot about this over the years. There are two common traits I see in professional photo managers. They are curious about history, stories, and people, otherwise they wouldn’t want to look at someone else's photo collection. Plus, they are usually lifelong learners, because technology keeps changing and to be successful you have to keep up.

Nickerson: Do you have any particular project that you especially liked working on over the years? Something our members may be able to relate to?

Nelson: I really like working on themes and using photos to tell stories. A few years ago, I created a mini photo album as a gift to the important people in my life. I added a few photos, the story of how we met and what I appreciated most about each person. I then sent it to each of them as an invitation to a party to celebrate my milestone birthday and the gift of friendship.

Nickerson: What's next for you and The Photo Managers?

Nelson: The need for professional photo managers is only increasing and I recently formed an Advisory Board of members to help us envision the next 10 years. When I started this over 15 years ago, I never dreamed that I would build something that would live long beyond me. I feel a great sense of responsibility to ensure that this profession continues to thrive for the members and the customers we serve.

Nickerson: Last but not least, you know all about Artifcts. How do you think Artifcts could help photo managers with their work?

Nelson: I love Artifcts because early on I realized that photos are just one piece of the puzzle. People also keep letters, children's artwork, babies' first shoes, medals, and other objects. Having the ability to share those items and stories for future generations fits perfectly into what I intuitively observed all those years ago. We are a people of stories, and we tell our stories and what we care about through photos and keepsake items.

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You can learn more about The Photo Managers and even where to find a Photo Manager to help you based on where you live by going directly to the official website.

© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Three Tips for Elevating Your At-Home Artifcts Photography

This week, as Save the Photos Month continues, we asked interiors and brand photographer Linda Pordon to share three tips to help elevate your at-home Artifcts photography.

Linda is a recognized interiors and brand photographer based out of the New York/New Jersey area. Her work has been published in outlets including Better Homes and Gardens, Domino, Elle Decor, and the NY Times. Additionally, Linda is the owner and founder of Proppe Shoppe, a collection of curated vintage and one-of-a-kind decorative objects and furnishings for the home. (Maybe you'll nod with understanding when you see some of these one-of-a-kind finds didn't even make it to the store front but are instead futured in Linda's public Artifcts collection!)

Through her photography, Linda aims to convey the feel and depth of the pieces and spaces she photographs but, more importantly, she aims to create emotional connections to these subjects through her lens.

Hear from Linda directly for a few easy tips you can try at home to elevate the photography of your cherished objects without any fancy equipment (or frustration!). 

1. FIND THAT LIGHT

Let's start off by going against what you may think ... the "best light" does not necessarily mean find the brightest light possible (or upping your exposure on your phone editing mode) to make it all "light and bright."  I have photographed and sold $800 sculptures that look like they were taken inside a dark closet. But oh they were sexy. The shadows made you feel something when you looked at it. Sometimes, less is more. So a few tips for lighting:

It may seem counterintuitive but TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF. Use natural and only natural light if you can.

      • Bring objects outside. The perfect weather to photograph items is an overcast, cloudy day.  It gives even but bright-enough light.  If it’s sunny out, find a spot in the shade to place your object.  When outdoors, you want to make sure your light is even and not too bright.  Watch out for dark shadows that will overpower your images and distract.
      • When photographing inside, just open your shades and set up near a window ... just not directly in the sun.  If your brightest room is too bright, use a bedsheet to hang or tape over the window to diffuse the light a bit. Get creative!
      • If you can't move your object, make sure you try to minimize the artificial lighting that is needed or opt to bring lights closer vs have the orange glare and reflection of overhead lights.

Play with (gasp) shadows.  

I said it. Use objects near or in front of your light to create shadows. A window pane. Hold a stem of flowers in front of the light. A raffia hat. You get the point. This is so easy to do and creates such high drama and can be done with things you have around the house. Your images will be looking "editorial" in no time.

White wood interior home staircase down to open foyer with pale oak flooring

 
 
I was photographing my Artifcts on a very rainy and dark day, so I used the space in our home that has the most windows and late afternoon light - our foyer.
 
 
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.

 

2. KEEP YOUR BACKGROUND SIMPLE AND MAKE IT CONSISTENT

If you're photographing several objects or an ongoing collection, try to make sure your color story and mood are consistent.

Do you want all bright pops of color behind your objects? Simple white? Dark and moody? The world is your oyster. My absolute favorite backgrounds are Replica Surfaces Boards (not sponsored but they should be!) which are lightweight and completely wipeable. The marble truly looks like marble and I have photographed it in every lighting possible. I wouldn't lie to you.  

If you don't want to invest in purchasing backgrounds, you can grab cheap poster board and keep it white or paint it any color or texture you feel like. Or hang a sheet against a wall and drape it down onto the floor. You would be shocked at how many brands are keeping their backgrounds pretty organic and homemade these days, but the images still look stunning and professional. 

Bright open foyer with small table and ti-fold white paper board

 
 
Here I just added a table for height (even any stool with a fabric over it would do) and then a rather cheap white tri-fold poster board to cover the trim work detail on the back wall.
 
 
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.

 

3. THINK (AND PAUSE) BEFORE YOU SNAP

The biggest advice I would give you is take your time. Really think about your shot. Take your time holding your camera (even if it's your iPhone).  Look around at the light. When my kids photograph with me for fun, I always have them walk around and take pictures with their hands to really see things before they get distracted with clicking the shutter. Think before you get snap happy!

A few concrete things to focus on:

Composition: This is a really big part of photography and a hard thing to break down succinctly, but try to be mindful of the following:

      • Leave negative space. It lets the eye breathe and actually makes your object more of a focal point.
      • Group smaller objects closer together to give them more "weight" on camera (groups of 3 are generally pleasing to the eye).
      • Vary up your angles. Make sure you get at least one head-on shot. Stand on a stool and take some overhead.
      • Watch your sight lines. Make sure key details aren't blocked. Try to see what your eye is drawn to and how it moves across an image.  

GIF carousel of photos of the same object from different angles

 
 
All taken by an iPhone 11 Pro Max (yes, I'm waiting for the new phone); edited on Lightroom mobile.
 
 
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.

Gridlines: My #1 tactical PLEASE PLEASE do this is get your picture straight.

If you are taking pictures crooked, panned up or down and not taking a minute to get as straight as possible, your images are always going to look more amateur. I can forgive almost any sin above the crooked image. An iPhone trick here is to turn your gridlines on (Settings -> Camera -> Grid set to green), and voila! The Lightroom app (available on iOS and Android) also has a great feature to auto correct gridlines (Geometry -> Upright click this toggle -> keep to "Auto," generally).

Editing: If you looked at a professional photographer's images, they should look pretty good SOOC (straight out of camera), but we would all be lying if we said post-production editing isn't a large part of the creative process.

There are some horrible filters out there, but there are also some good free and cheap phone apps you can use for your camera phone photos.  Lightroom is my favorite for photo editing. I also love Color Story. Your iPhone's built-in camera editing tools aren't all that shabby either. Try to keep your highlights down, your shadows up, and play with the contrast and warmth as much as you want. If you find settings you love using, try to consistently apply them to your images.  

iPhone vs DLSR - Which final photo would you choose?

Taken by iPhone 11 Pro Max; edited on Lightroom mobile  Taken by Nikon Z6 mirrorless DSLR; edited on Lightroom desktop

 
 
(LEFT) Taken by iPhone 11 Pro Max; edited on Lightroom mobile.
 
 
(RIGHT) Taken by Nikon Z6 mirrorless DSLR; edited on Lightroom desktop.
 
 
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.

 

Last, but not least, have fun with it.

Photography is such a beautiful way to tell a story about something or someone you love. My favorite photos are the ones where I wasn't overthinking, I wasn't hyper focused on the technical pieces, and I was just inspired by what I was shooting. Enjoy the gift of translating things you love for others to see and enjoy.  

Original Clay Sculpture, Earth, Linda Pordon

 
 
Pop over to Linda Pordon's public Artifcts collection to view the "finished" Artifct from her rain-filled day of Artifcts photography. A bonus Artifct is there awaiting you with an oh-so-sweet story.

Share with us Artifcts you've created putting some of Linda's tips to the test at Editor@Artifcts.com. Or share directly with Artifcts on Facebook or @TheArtiLife on Instagram - we love videos too! 

Happy Artifcting!

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ABOUT THE FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER

Linda Pordon is a an interior and commercial brand photographer based out of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. She has a B.S. in Finance and started her career in forensic investigations at PricewaterhouseCoopers before pivoting to marketing as an executive at American Express in the premium product space for 15 years. Linda draws on her 20-year tenure in corporate marketing and strategy to enable her to better translate the visions and stories of businesses in her photography work. When she's not behind the lens, Linda has her hands full with her favorite ever-moving subjects, her three young sons, 5, 7, & 9 years old.

© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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