I am willing to bet that we have more photos stored than any other type of file. Gone are the days when you were more judicious about what you took a picture of because you only had so many pictures left on the roll – or flashes left on the bulb. You might have even been mindful when using your digital camera depending on how much device and SD card storage you had. But with today’s smart phones, our cameras are with us 24/7 – and we use them almost as often. Most times, I don’t even use the camera to take a picture of something beautiful, or a person, or an event. I take a picture of a book cover to remind me of a book I want to read later, or of a review in the newspaper of a hamburger joint I might want to try, or a price sign in the store of an object I might want to buy – just not at that moment. I have a ton of these types of photos using up my device or SD card or cloud space. Yes, they’re convenient to have, but I don’t want to save them for posterity. How many bad selfies do you have saved? Or multiple photos of the same shot just to be sure you got a good one? Rainbows? Fireworks? The reality is, we have a lot of junk photos taking up a lot of valuable storage space. Since I don’t want to buy extra space, I’m going to have to devote some time to culling the photos and deciding what really needs to stay.
Start with Incidental Photos First
These are all those junk photos that I mentioned above, the ones you need just for a short time. How and where you store your photos will determine how you go about discarding them. I have my phone set to back-up to Google Photos automatically, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s great in that my photos are safe should I lose or damage my phone. It stinks because ALL of them are backed up, even the junk ones. Find the storage location that will allow you to delete a photo just once, yet also remove it from both cloud and device storage. That will help cut down on the amount of time you are devoting to this tedious task.
Do you really need five shots of the family posing in front of that waterfall? Or three shots of your dog sleeping on your lap? Or all the dozens of photos you took of your grandchild opening every single Christmas present? Probably not. Choose the best ONE in front of the waterfall. Unless the dog’s sleeping on your lap is unusual, you probably don’t need any of those (but I won’t judge you for keeping one). And try to whittle event photos (Christmas, birthdays, vacations, etc.) down to the fewest possible. Keep the best ones, the ones that capture the moment and the emotion that you truly want to remember – the ones that bring you joy.
To Print or Not to Print?
If you are of a certain age, you are probably still printing out photos and placing them in photo albums, or at the very least, using a service like Shutterfly to make photo books. But I couldn’t tell you the last time my 23-year-old daughter printed out a photo. Yes, digital photos are convenient, but I just don’t get that same feeling as I do from going through a photo album. But printing is going to be a personal preference; I still do it. And then I painstakingly put them into albums and caption the photos. If you’re not likely to go to that trouble, then just stick with your digitized ones.
Photo Files on Your Computer
In addition to whatever you have on your phone and/or in the cloud, you probably have photos stored on your computer as well. If you deleted photos you didn’t want when we worked on files, you are one step ahead! If not, now is the time to go through all those pictures and discard the ones you don’t want or need. If you have a lot of photos, it might be a good idea to sort them into separate folders – you can create folders based on date, event, subject matter – whatever makes sense for you. You’ll want to back these up as well, but image files tend to take up a lot of space. If you don’t want to use precious cloud storage, upload your photos to a site like Shutterfly or even Walgreen’s. Those are great options if you intend to make prints, but even if you don’t, your photos are always there. (Of course, you will need to create an account.)
Tackling your digital clutter is every bit as time-consuming as tangible clutter. And it is easier to accumulate because it doesn’t take up any physical space – which also means it is easier to rebound and find yourself in the same mess. So be sure you stay on top of your digital life. Clear out e-mails on a weekly basis, dump old unnecessary files every few months, and try to handle your photos almost as soon after you take them as possible.
So, what’s next? If you’re a teacher, my next post will be for you – KonMari in the Classroom. Don’t miss it!