Privacy and Safety with Photos

At the start of the new year, I completed the ‘Privacy Advocate’ training from The Photo Managers. It was interesting and crucial, both for myself and for my business and clients. As a photo organizer (photo manager), I am in the forefront of the photo organizing process, providing me with the opportunity to handle it as safely as possible for both myself and my clients – ensuring that photos and information remain secure. Privacy is a universal right, and without privacy, there can be no proper security, which is also the motto of the training. It sounds logical, but it’s essential to understand the practical implications of these concepts. Since I often work digitally, dealing with other people’s ‘stuff,’ I want to work as effectively and securely as possible, and also educate my clients. Now equipped with knowledge of the risks, dangers, and ‘countermeasures,’ I can ensure that this security is maintained. Time to get to work, for myself and my clients.

The Training
The training is conducted by two professionals, Heather Nickelson and Allison Freedman, who, through their work as security experts and lawyers, have gained valuable experience and provide insightful information. It’s noteworthy that in their own country, the USA, there is NO regulation regarding privacy. There’s no ‘112’ to call if your business or bank account gets hacked. Fortunately, in Europe and countries like Canada, there are (many) laws protecting your privacy, making any form of data theft punishable. However, experiencing it is a significant shock, a disruption to your life and business, and a breach of trust for your clients. It takes a lot of time and stress to set everything right. So, prevention is better.

Nearly 98% of errors in the digital realm can be traced back to personal mistakes. Errors occur when people don’t exactly know what they’re working with or don’t understand what happens when they’re on the internet. Always read the (Privacy) Terms and Conditions. It takes time, and that’s why almost everyone clicks ‘agree.’ But know what you’re agreeing to… Take the time and, for example, do the Google Check! Do it for other websites you frequently use and repeat it a few times a year.

To-Do’s 😊
It was reassuring to realize that I already have a good handle on the privacy protection of myself and my business. I’m mindful of what I share, don’t click on random links, and ensure sufficient and secure backups. The digital information I share is relevant, safe, and up-to-date. That’s (hopefully) already well-established for most people. However, it’s crucial to be careful not to fill in all your personal details on a form if it’s not necessary, and to thoroughly read all privacy rules before, for instance, downloading software or using a cloud service. This has now become clear to me.

Many more topics were covered, such as communication with clients and sharing information via email or social media. The ‘bad guys’ engage in effective ‘social engineering’: gathering data about you and/or your business by piecing together information from various sources to impersonate you in payments. Photos can reveal a lot of information without you realizing it. Sharing photos on social media is not without risks, and the photos also continue to ‘exist forever’ if you don’t configure your settings properly. For me, it was a reason to share almost no personal photos on social media. I do it via WhatsApp, but how secure are they? They stay in the WhatsApp cloud if you don’t delete them; time to pay attention to that!


  1. Always read the (Privacy) Terms and Conditions of programs and services. Understand what the company does with your photos, data, what you can modify, etc. Check, as annoying as it may be, the settings of cookies every time. Many digital errors arise from ignorance!
  2. Do NOT share personal details, such as a birth date or social security number, on social media or via WhatsApp; this is to counter ‘social engineering.’
  3. Use STRONG PASSWORDS and, whenever possible, enable two-factor authentication when logging in.

I’ve shared the tip of using a data blocker when charging your devices before; revisit it here!


Organizing Photos – Start on your smartphone

Organizing your photos can seem like a daunting task. Anyone who has been taking digital photos for a while will have a substantial quantity on their computer. Because taking photos has become almost second nature (thanks to smartphones) and they don’t take up physical space, organizing them may not always be a priority. However, when you find yourself searching extensively for a photo or wanting to create photo books but not knowing where to begin, it’s time to tackle photo organization.

Start with your smartphone itself – the main ‘culprit’ :). If you take many photos, of whatever, take a few minutes each day or week to remove all the ‘clutter’, and all duplicate photos. Here’s a list of photos you can quickly and easily delete:

  1. Photos of magazine articles, tips you still want to use. Like the attached photo of mine :). In the meantime, these can be deleted as I have utilized the information.
  2. Screenshots – they are usually handy at the time but become unnecessary later. On your phone, they have a separate folder, making it easy to clean up.
  3. Photos of items in a shop (to show or remember). After some time, these can be deleted.
  4. Timer shots (bursts). Pick one and discard the rest.
  5. Photos that are too dark or too light, unless they hold a special memory.
  6. Photos where you have many similar ones – for instance, sunsets.
  7. (Too) many photos of animals at the children’s farm or an outdoor event where you no longer remember who’s in them 🙂
  8. Blurred photos.
  9. Accidental photos.
  10. WhatsApp photos from others that you don’t want. If you want to prevent them from continually appearing in the photo library:
  • iPhone: Go to WhatsApp Settings, then WhatsApp Settings – Chats, and turn off ‘Save to Camera Roll.’
  • Android: Go to WhatsApp, tap the three dots in the upper right – Settings – Chats – Turn off Media Visibility.

By decluttering ‘at source’ in this way, you prevent your computer from being overwhelmed with photos. You can then gradually spend time organizing older photos. The key steps are:

  1. Gather all photos together.
  2. Backup
  3. Remove duplicates.
  4. Further clean up (keep only the best, most important ones).
  5. Organize (into yearly folders or themes).
  6. Optionally rename and add keywords (tags) to photos.

If you have questions about these last six points or want to work on them, feel free to contact me. I can assist you with:

  • DIY (Do It Yourself) – you get advice so that you can continue on your own.
  • DWY (Do It With You) – we work together.
  • DFY (Done For You) – I completes the task for you.



safety while travelling

Safety Tip 1: Vacation is the perfect time to back up your photos, whether you’re staying in your own country or going far away. You might think, “My photos are also in the cloud,” but things can happen there too! A cloud is not a reliable backup, especially if it’s a cloud that only synchronizes. You’re best off doing following the 3-2-1 system. Ensure you have 3 copies of your photos on 2 different media, and 1 in another location. For example, one on your computer, one on an external hard drive, and another on a different external hard drive – in another location (another house). That ‘other location’ can also be in a cloud.

Safety Tip 2: Data blocker. When you’re on a trip, you’ll be charging your phone everywhere —convenient charging stations at the airport, under your seat in the train, in hotels, at campsites, in cafes and restaurants, etc. Charging in public places carries a risk: hackers can exploit those charging spots and install spyware on your phone, and then gather various login details. It’s safer to charge as much as possible with a power bank. Even safer is to buy and use a data blocker. This is a USB plug (sometimes called a USB condom :)), which only allows the power you need to pass through, not data. There are also cable data blockers. Take a look at what they have on

Also, be cautious with free Wi-Fi. Hackers might be at work there too, setting up a fake network to monitor the data traffic of all connected devices.


Blue Zones


Photos: La Maddalena and Bosa, Sardinia


My favourite colour is blue. I often take a lot of photos of blue, wherever it may be. If you follow me on Instagram (and/or Facebook) you will often see ‘blue’ photos appearing.

It is (thus) also my company colour. Blue is the colour of calm and clarity. And for me it is especially the blue of the blue sky, the sea where islands lie, a blue zone. An image connected to a sense of freedom and clarity, something to long for when life gets busy or if you are surrounded by too much clutter, or still have much ‘to do’. I wish everyone such a ‘blue zone’ in their mind, work, and home.


Blue zones actually exist. Since 2000, there has been research on the ‘Blue Zones’ on Earth: areas where people are generally healthier and live longer than elsewhere. There are five zones in the world: Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California). Research has found similarities in the lifestyle of people in these areas. The ‘Blue Zoners,’ for example, eat a lot of vegetables, little meat, and enjoy an occasional glass of wine. They get enough exercise, so the gym isn’t necessary, and they rest enough. They don’t draw a sharp line between work and leisure, and they continue working until they can’t physically handle it anymore. Their life is their life, they are content with ‘enough,’ and family takes precedence over their career. They also have a clear goal in life that is ‘close’ to them. For example, living as environmentally friendly as possible, growing their own vegetables, working with pleasure, having time for friends, and having a welcoming and tidy home. They also place importance on the feeling of belonging. To a close or wider family, or a village. Being part of something larger gives a sense of security. We can take an example from them in our busy lives. And why not make small changes in that direction?


The Blue Zones… I am not moving there right away, but I do strive for harmony and clarity. Also in my work, I enjoy helping people gain control and clarity. And since 2018, especially with sorting and organizing photos, and creating beautiful photo books. I’ve made many people happy with that! Because when your family history, which is often what it’s all about, is well-documented and accessible, you can easily tell the family stories that go with it. And that makes people happy. That’s one step toward a ‘Blue Zone’!



About the location of your photos and the CO2 footprint

Where are your photos?

Photos – you may take them with a digital camera, but probably mainly with your smartphone. And then what do you do with them? Do you connect the camera or phone to your computer and put the photos into a folder? Or do the photos go into in a ‘Photo’ program? Both Windows and Apple have a program ‘Photos’ that may contain your photos without you knowing or making a decision. Or do you – like many people – use a cloud service, such as Google Photos or iCloud, whereby you don’t actually have to do anything – because the photos are automatically accessible everywhere. The convenience of not having to do anything and unlimited storage is often the reason why people opt for a cloud service. But the danger is that all those photos stream in and you no longer keep a grip on them. And the danger is also that you think that the cloud is a backup, and that is not necessarily the case. It can be an extra backup, but it is mainly a synchronization aid.

What is also possible is that you keep your photos on an external drive, so as not to overburden your computer. Then, if all goes well, you regularly put photos on that drive (via your computer). You can easily make an extra backup of that drive, something you should also do if your photos are on your computer and/or in a cloud.

Photos you receive from others, for example via WhatsApp, email or Dropbox: make sure you add the photos you want to keep to your own collection by downloading or transferring them.

Know where your photos are, and consider whether you find that satisfactory. Do you want to look at your photos often or do you just want them stored tidily? A photo program gives you the opportunity to collect, edit, view and have some fun with your photos in all kinds of ways, such as photo films. Or is that not for you, are you more into organized folders in Microsoft Explorer or Apple Finder.


Digital CO2 footprint

If you use a cloud service, your photos are continuously synced to and from your computer, phone and any other devices. This happens in large data centres, with huge computers that run 24 hours a day. These data centres guzzle energy and emit more CO2 than air traffic. For example, 100 GB stored in the cloud means 200 kg of CO2 emission. And 100 GB – that’s about 25,000 photos. The same applies to e-mails that are stored in cloud servers; a single e‑mail can be responsible for 5 to 50 grams of CO2 emission.

If you still want to use a cloud service, realise that every photo costs energy. So the fewer photos you store, the smaller the CO2 emission. And you can imagine that videos cost even more energy.

So start by clearing up and reducing the numbers of your photos and videos. For example, if you delete duplicates, you can already make a difference of 20%. And there is a rule that 20% of your photos contain 80% of your memories. Do you really need all of the 80% of your photos containing the remaining 20% of memories? Cleaning up has many benefits; you have a better overview, you can find photos faster, the photos take up less space, and you reduce CO2 emissions.

I personally make minimal use of a cloud service. I use iCloud for my contacts only (address book) and I use Dropbox for work files so that I can access them both in my studio and at home. I have many files, including all my photos, on a ‘Studio’ disk, which I can carry around with me. I take my photos with my iPhone or sometimes with a camera and put them on my Apple computer via a cable. There I organize them in the ‘Photo’ program and I have backups on external drives. It feels right and works well for me. I retain the photos on my iPhone that I like to carry round with me. When I have transferred them to my computer, which I do regularly, I delete a large proportion of the photos from my phone. I take quite a lot of pictures, and I want to keep them tidy on my phone. If I’m a bit behind with that, I’ll sit down and take the time for it.

The digital possibilities are endless, but just as with air travel, we have to take a step back and reduce our CO2 footprint. And every little bit helps. Let’s do the same with our photos. And then enjoy them in an organized way!

If you have any questions, or if I can help you with any step, send me an e-mail.

Family Films digitized

Around ten to fifteen years ago I had several old video tapes and Super 8 films converted to DVDs. This was because the Super 8 projector broke and was disposed of, and we understood that video tapes did not last for ever. These conversions saved the family films and travels from oblivion.

In the meantime, it has become clear that DVDs don’t last forever either. It was time to move on to the next level: convert everything to digital files. According to the experts, mp4 is the best format able to deal with any future changes.

Now that I am a professional photo organizer and am often confronted with this sort of issue through my clients and my membership of The Photo Managers, it has become a small step for me to take on board such a conversion project.

First, I made an inventory of everything. What have I got, what is the medium, and what is on it? If the latter was not evident from, for example, a title on the cover, then I used an old Super 8 viewer (that I had saved for that purpose) and an older MacBook with a DVD reader to inventorize everything. Luckily, the video tapes had titles, and some had already been converted to DVD.

The next step: determine which films should be ‘saved’ for future generations. Which are really worth the effort, such as the images of our life in Mozambique (even though they are a little blurred) and what not, such as a short film showing only well-known buildings in Florence. Old films are usually no longer of high quality, but old family films, however blurry, are worth keeping. Especially if they feature old street scenes. Images of earlier city trips are only fun if they feature people so that you can see how life was then. That was not the case with my Florence film.

The digitization

When it was clear for me which films should be digitized§, I took several video tapes to Trigger in Amsterdam, my professional partner for digital conversions. During the last conference of The Photo Managers, I met fellow photo organizer and conversion expert, Becky Ball. She was prepared to help me with the DVDs remotely. I was able to convert the DVDs to mp4 files using the appropriate programs. Trigger could have done that, but I like doing small collections myself, if it at all possible. I don’t want to become a conversion specialist, but I think that it is important to know what is needed and what is possible.

I am very happy that I have finished my own project. Everything has been examined, and the most important images are ‘safe’. All my mp4 files are now stored on an external hard disk that I have called ‘BeeldBank Massaro’ (Image Bank Massaro). And of course they are also stored on two back-ups.I have thrown away most of the old video tapes, Super 8 films and DVDs. I have saved only a few as ‘vintage’ examples.

I have still got two large reels of Super 8 films that I had previously not had converted to DVD. I was not sure then that I wanted them converted. They feature a trip around the USA and a trip to Egypt (all the cultural locations). I think that they are a bit boring because at that time I was trying to make real ‘documentaries’. And besides, I’ve also got nice photo albums (scrapbooks) of the trips. I will firstly review them with a Super 8 viewer, and then decide whether they can stay, and let Trigger convert them to mp4 files.

So … do you still have:

  • Old (family) films: 8 mm, 9,5 mm, 16 mm, Super 8?
  • Video tapes: VHS, S-VHS en VHS-C, Video 8, Hi8, Digital 8, miniDV, DVD?
  • Professional tapes such as V2000, Betamax, Betacam, Digital Betacam, DV large, HDV, DV Cam, XD Cam, Umatic, DVC Pro 25, or DVC Pro 50?
  • Slides (in frames or not): 24×26 mm, 16×24 mm, 6 x 6 cm, 4 x 4 cm, or glass (lantern) slides?
  • DVDs with films or photos?
  • Negatives: 35-mm (24×36), APS, 16×30, pocket 13×17, half frame (16×24), glass plate negatives, Instamatic negatives, Kodak disc negatives or flat film negatives?

If so, then I would be pleased to help you sorting out what should be digitized! And taking care that that actually happens.

By the way, I also bring large collections of analogue photos to Trigger for digitizing. Small numbers I do myself with a special photo scanner, but for large collections or a client’s large album I go to the professionals. Do you want your photos digitalised and do you still have most of the negatives? Consider having the negatives scanned. They are after all your negatives. Small numbers of negatives I can do myself, but larger collections and unusual formats I let Trigger do.

I am going to have the negatives of our time in Mozambique scanned, where the photos have all gone brown. Then I can make a beautiful photo album of the photos in their original colours.

The story of the poster

The story of the poster – Erik Kessels at the TMP Conference 2022 in Denver

April 2022.

In 2017 I saw in a street near our Airbnb in Turin an exhibition by Erik Kessels. About photos. Photos?? I had decided that year to focus on photo organizing and just before our trip to Italy I had rented a place in a studio where I could hatch my plans. So I definitely wanted to see that exhibition – I was already a fan of Erik Kessels’ work as a creator of special marketing projects.

The exhibition (‘The many lives of Erik Kessels‘) turned out to contain everything that I had in mind as a photo organizer: collecting and selecting photos, searching, working out the stories behind photos, appreciating what Kessel calls ‘vernacular photos’ and ultimately doing something attractive and fun with the photos.  The exhibition also featured Erik Kessels’ depiction of the chaos of photographs that are posted on the internet every day (’24hours’).  He has turned his interest in vernacular (amateur) photographs into an artform.  Everything was an inspiration for me. I bought the poster of the exhibition and that was the first thing that I hung on the wall in my studio in Leiden – and it still inspires me. Just like the photos that I took of the exhibition itself; I still use them in my PR communications (naturally I had asked the agency (KesselsKramer) for permission).

I started adding photo organizing to my business.  Having followed several courses, I collaborate with fellow organizers (FON), I regularly give workshops, and I now have clients both in Netherlands and abroad. I have been since 2017 a member of The Photo Managers (TPM), a large community in the USA that takes photo organization to the next level, and where I acquire a lot of inspiration and know-how. I attended two virtual TPM conferences in 2020 and 2021 and I recently attended this year’s conference in Denver ‘in person’. During the virtual conference in 2021, I talked to a colleague, Isabelle Dervaux, another fan of Erik Kessels’ work, and we cooked up what we considered a very good idea – to get Erik Kessels to speak at the next conference.

I contacted his agency and Erik Kessels himself quickly replied – he also thought it would be a nice idea! After some conversations via Zoom, it became clear: he was to be the first keynote speaker of the conference in March 2022, in Denver. Via Zoom, but still.

That day, March 24th, was a beautiful and proud moment for me, together with Isabelle Dervaux, to announce Erik Kessels’ keynote speech. His presentation was wonderful. The room (with 120 photo organizers) responded with much appreciation and laughter, as in addition to being brilliant, his original way of looking at (amateur) photos is also funny.

In the days following the presentation, many photo organizers came up to me and thanked me for being instrumental in them getting to know Erik Kessels’ work.

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