I am co-founder and owner of foto2digital. After my father suddenly passed away I lost the source of many family tales and the identities of faces in the photos went with him. This loss made me focus on preserving my family photos, slides and albums to enrich the lives of my children, without weighing them down with the bulk.
I was uniquely prepared to undertake such a project. As VP of Operations, I successfully implemented a paperless Credit Union to match our online-banking. We could access all documents and deliver them securely to account-holders around the globe.
Growing up in Middleton, WI, I enjoyed both people and animals. With mother as a Scout troop leader, being a girl-scout was a given. Out of which grew my interests in all things living: gardening, guinea pigs, snakes, lizards, cats, dogs and horses. I enjoy poetry, literature and languages. I like to travel and my ability to speak fluent German tested my language skills on glaciers with Swiss hikers.
My work experience was preparing me for foto2digital. After UW-Madison, I worked in the financial industry and management for over three decades. When I started in 1983 the industry was adopting computers. Computers quickly became the business lifeline where we could record, share and access records instantly. By 2000, it was not a choice but a business necessity to make digital records instantly available to every employee. I had it all digitized.
My children depend on digital technology to find information and images. Having managed secure delivery of billions of financial transactions, I was comfortable in digitizing and delivering my 50,000 family collection. Because digitizing is not enough to preserve family stories without names and searchable keywords, and because such a service is not available elsewhere, I decided to not only preserve my photos but offer our service to others.
I was confident, because I had the technical expertise of Kazi by my side.
Leaving behind people in the office workplace and the comfort of an established life for an unknown future was a challenge. Yet, I was attracted by the promise of helping people preserve their family stories. I took a leap of faith.
We started foto2digital ready to devote our full attention to be the standout leaders in our industry. We needed space to accommodate scanners, workstations, servers and found ourselves in Wisconsin Dells. Just 50 miles north of Madison, WI, where we have a whole floor of the building to conform with our workflow. Now we process 10,000 images a day. But our focus is NOT the number of images.
What motivates me is the quality of images we digitize, the families we have the privilege to know and the fulfillment of our promise to preserve family stories for generations.
UW-graduate school brought me to Madison, WI in 1985. Family-photos stayed with my parents and aunts and uncles. Unlike Karen, I have access to only a few childhood photos. A very closely-knit family that shaped me are just memories, receding with time. I cannot share those images with my wife and children. Those photos exist but are inaccessible to me. Because I understand how important access to images is, I was immediately committed to the concept of foto2digital.
I grew up in Islamabad in 1960s with five sisters. It is a lush-green valley at the foot of Margala Hills. Hiking through the hills with family we gathered berries, and many other fruits and flowers. I enjoyed playing cricket for my school and clubs. When not outdoors, I devoted my spare time to books and technology. Now I enjoy wildlife and the beauty of Wisconsin Dells.
The moment we started talking about digitizing Karen’s family media, my mind laid the foundations for Foto2digital. It was not a foresight, but a foregone conclusion: to do it right, we needed:
- Several high-speed scanners to handle various media and large volume.
- A process to make images searchable anywhere (without a data-base).
- Online access to images without any special software.
- Affordability, to preserve family legacies.
Having spent a life-time managing IT projects, and with our clearly defined goals, it was easy to lay out a research plan. Our test data included albums, documents, genealogical data and slides. Over the next six months we repeatedly scanned the data with several scanners, storage schemes, and backups. Next, I developed a simple workflow to identify faces and add searchable keywords to groups of photos. Almost a year had passed and along with finishing Karen’s project, we had developed the resources necessary to preserve family stories.
Foto2Digital now preserves family stories, one family at a time.