The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 13, March 28, 2021, Article 33


At last week's NNP Symposium panel session on the early days of online numismatics we talked a bit about the evolution of technology and how it changed the hobby and the profession. This New Yorker article describes one growing profession you may not have thought of, but which is now a real thing. -Editor

Personal photo organizer Elevator operator became a job sometime in the latter half of the eighteenth century, first appearing as its own category on the U.S. Census in 1910. It is the only job since 1950, according to a recent study, to have been fully eliminated by automation. Occupations come and go, their life spans following trend and technology. Town criers, soda jerks, lamplighters, clock winders, pinsetters, and ice cutters give way to air-traffic controllers, genetic counsellors, drone operators, influencers, and social-media managers. The other day, a journalist was scrolling through Instagram and spotted an interesting-sounding gig in another user’s bio: personal-photo organizer.

A call to Fort Greene (no operator necessary) confirmed that personal-photo organizing is, indeed, an emerging profession, and that people who spend their days swiping and saving in the name of posterity are also known as family-photo curators. “Photo managers can help organize and curate collections, digitize prints, suggest backup systems, re-house in archival storage, and help you tell your story through photo book design, videos, websites, and countless other ways,” reads the Web site of the Photo Managers (formerly the Association of Personal Photo Curators), est. 2009.

A family once hired Dervaux for eighty hours, to curate their photos and be done with it, but she prefers a pedagogical approach, working side by side with a client, so that the client can do his or her own sentimental labor in the future. The goal is to whittle every year’s collection down to no more than twelve hundred keepers (“faved” on an iPhone), a couple of hundred selections for a digital album, and, finally, twelve to fifteen “best” photos that would qualify for a holiday card or to hang on a wall.

Swiping around in strangers’ camera rolls is not without occupational hazards. Dervaux has stumbled across nudes, birthing closeups, and enough is-this-a-rash-or-what selfies to overwhelm a dermatologist. The process of sorting through photos is, in many ways, a process of sorting through emotions. “Some people don’t want to see their ex-husband pop up on the screen,” Dervaux said. “We’ll export those so they won’t be mixed up with your new husband.” Photos, she said, fall into three categories: 1) family, friends, and memories; 2) places and things; and 3) practical information (a screenshot of a bike-rental agreement, a recipe, a class schedule). “In the past, we were photographing physical things to remember the past,” she said. “But now what we do is we photograph ideas. We photograph things for the future, like a number we want to call.”

Curate a family’s photos and they’ll be organized for a day; teach them how to take better pictures and they’ll be organized forever. “My philosophy is Let’s try not to take a picture that you’re going to have to delete later,” Dervaux said.

I can't help but think there must be the numismatic equivalent of such a profession, and not just for the grading and auction houses, but for the rest of us. Our own personal digital curator. One can dream, can't one? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
How a Personal-Photo Curator Separates the Is-This-a-Rash Selfies from the Keepers (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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