Westchester entrepreneur Haleh Shoa is the founder of Picturli, a company that provides personal photo organization services and more.

Westchester entrepreneur offers free photo course

By Haley Beyer

Haleh Shoa, Westchester entrepreneur and photo organizing expert, founded Picturli in 2016.

Picturli was created to provide personal photo organization, preservation and design services so that families could keep their photos safe, accessible, and present them in ways that could be enjoyed.

The idea for Picturli stemmed from Shoa’s love for preserving her own family’s memorabilia and from the reactions of others after having their photos made into calendars, photo albums and other gift items.

“When I was 9 years old, my family and I left Iran to flee from the 1979 Iranian Revolution to find a safe place to live,” Shoa said. “All we had were the shirts on our backs and all of our family memories in a suitcase. Later on, I worked in marketing and had access to a scanner, so I decided to start going through our photos to see what we had in that suitcase.”

From there, Shoa became interested in photography and began taking amateur photos at events with family and friends. She realized that everyone seemed to have the same problem: they all had photos of their favorite memories but no idea what to do with them. Shoa became so passionate about telling people’s stories through photos that she decided to make a job out of it and started learning how to use all the photograph programs.

The first challenge Shoa faced was figuring out how to manage time between her career in advertising as a global operations director for the agency while building her new business from ground up. She started out by earning her certification from The Photo Manager, the world’s leading educational community in the rapidly growing field of photo management. The Photo Manager educates anyone that is interested in archiving and storing their photos, and trains people to become professional photo organizers and managers.

“This really started as a heart project to preserve the history and story of families,” Shoa said. “I want to wake up the energy of their ancestors and give them a way to share it with everyone.”

The process consists of several steps: organize, scan, digitize, curate and design.

The consolidation process consists of all digital memory files (photos and videos from various sources such as computers, SD cards, external hard drives, cloud services, mobile phones, social media platforms, and any other places that clients may have them) being put into one place. The files will be renamed and ordered chronologically.

The team then starts the scanning and preservation services. Shoa and her team invested in a very expensive scanner to guarantee the highest quality of work so that they could scan and/or digitize any analog format including photos, album pages, children’s artwork, 8mm/16mm film, VHS, DVDs, mini DVs, Hi8’s and audio cassettes.

Picturli then sets up a system where clients can access their files and accounts from any device, trusting that their photos are secure and accessible.
“The creative side of the projects is my favorite because the photos really help show who you are and where you came from,” Shoa said. “It’s all about reconnecting to your memories.”

There are many ways to present the photographs once they’re organized with some of the most common including photo albums, videos, gallery walls, coffee table books and family websites.

“I have two things I love about my job,” Shoa said. “I love the element of really seeing the detail of older photos after having been preserved to the highest quality because there are so many parts to a photo that become clearer. I also love delivering the final product to the families and seeing the joy on their faces.”

The cost depends on the number of documents, the amount of time it takes to complete the project, and the form of presentation. Shoa will be coming up with packages soon to make the process easier. She also plans to release courses for clients to take (DIY package, Digital Organization, and Digital Organization + Creative Product).

She is currently teaching “Design a Gallery Wall Using Canva.com,” a free course for the “Save Your Photos Month” annual online event. The course is designed to help get the word out to families that need help with their photos.

To register for free and to learn how to participate in Save Your Photos Month, visit saveyourphotos.org. There are 40+ additional mini-courses available on topics such as “3 Simple Ways to Create a Photo Legacy,” “Digital Photo Organizing Tools,” and “Photo Album Rescue.” There will also be prize giveaways and live Q&As with guest experts such as television personality and downsizing expert Matt Paxton. The event runs through the rest of September and all of October.