A typical finished product is a colorful college-yearbook-sized assembly of exquisite enlargements, scanned artifacts (e.g. jewelry, prized pens), interviews, background research, captions, commentary, perhaps the family tree, etc. This is not a 9"x6" black-and-white library biography with a few too-small photos crammed at scattered intervals in the book. The one-word summary for the Private Biographer's highly-accessible and lively collections rendered in finest wet-look color using an exotic solid-ink printer is: book-azine. And of course, inexpensive .PDF versions of your book are easily done, and multiple archival DVDs of the photos and layouts are yours for safekeeping. Here's why you should consider such a labor of love for your family or firm:
Portraiture for Modern Medici. Life nowadays is more complex – one painting will not suffice to mark the achievements and family of a great (or even a good) man or woman.
A tombstone doesn't suffice. Why shouldn’t your descendants know what you look like, how you managed your life, what sort of values you had, the agony, the fun?
Self-knowledge. Inherently valuable, sometimes an analytical look at one's life brings insight. Photos and documents can create this opportunity.
Education. Your descendants will be taught history in school, but what about family history, how future kids fit into the fabric of history? Making such connections can spark very constructive interests in a particular profession, industry, city, etc. Some great-great grandchild just might join the Coast Guard because you made that choice in your own youth. That little fact could be the tipping-point.
Security. You've done the best you could for your family so far – but what about the story? What if it's lost? Who will be the "institutional memory" for your family? Perhaps someone today is the agreed or de facto family historian. Is s/he good at it? Energetic? Up-to-date on preservation technology? Aggressive about videotaping elders while they’re still sharp?
Inclusiveness. For some elders, to be tapped for the family history project is the most honoring involvement imaginable. It is joyous work, and probably no one can do it as well as the senior family member. And for family members who might have excluded themselves over the years, or felt left out, the common history can be a rallying point for rapprochement.
What Private Biographer is not
It's not primarily genealogy research, though working with a defined family tree speeds our service, and organizing names-and-players is fun and necessary.
It's not a blank-book full of lined pages and dependent on a subject’s autobiographical and literary skills.
And Private Biographer is a different planet from "scrapbooking," which is a hobby for many people adept with layout, scissors, and adhesives. They produce colorful pages of snapshots for current consumption but have less concern for long-term preservation and digital dissemination. A rather large industry has emerged, catering to scrapbookers who often do their work in social groups.