In today’s post, I’m going to teach you how to declutter digital photos.
If you have a digital camera, you’re likely in the same boat I was before I figured out *the best way* to get my collection under control!
Like all women, I wear many different hats: Mother, wife, gardener, entrepreneur, organizing guru, photographer, scrapbooker.
In today’s post, I’m going to focus on the last two hats I rattled off: Photographer and Scrapbooker.
I’ve been scrapbooking for the past 13 years or so.
It started with a curious fascination with the sticker aisle at Pat Catan’s (a local craft store with an ENTIRE aisle of nothing but stickers – CRAZY!).
The curiosity turned into a full blown hobby and especially before I had my kids, it was a great creative outlet.
Along with a slight sticker obsession, came a photo obsession.
And that obsession only got worse after I had my first child and even worse after we got a DLSR camera.
And then worse yet after I got my first smart phone!
The ability to take a whole bunch of photos was great – I like to think that I never missed a shot!
But a problem soon developed: A huge glut of photos that I didn’t know what to do with!
Luckily, this was a digital problem instead of a physical problem, so the photos weren’t actually in my way.
Being overwhelmed with physical pictures is an issue for so many people, and I’ll cover how to organize printed photographs in a future post.
A few years ago, I realized that I had amassed over 15,000 photos!
The number was growing rapidly every year and was becoming overwhelming for me really quickly.
It was taking me longer to actually scrapbook.
I was sifting through tons of photos looking for the right ones.
And my computer was a bit laggy due to the number of pictures in the photo editing program I was using.
The real overwhelm came from fear of losing the digital photos in case the computer’s hard drive died. I just wanted less to deal with!
I set an initial goal of paring down the picture collection to 12,000.
I was able to get there in just an hour or two with absolutely no tears!
I love this picture of my mom and me. Totally quality and a keeper!
Quality rules. Always.
I decided to focus on quality over quantity. I really didn’t want to get a huge collection – as if 12,000 photos isn’t enough!
For me, in most cases except for when chocolate is involved, less is more. The first 1,000 photos were pretty easy to deal with.
To start off with, I deleted pictures that were just plain bad.
Digital cameras allow for a lot of good and bad pictured to be taken really quickly and at pretty much zero cost.
So we take more than we really need to, in hopes of getting the perfect shot. But in the process a bunch of duds are also captured.
Grainy, tiny, overall crappy picture of the Super Blood Moon.
Get rid of pictures that are grainy, blurry, too dark, too light, out of focus, etc.
Not saying that it has to be Pulitzer Prize worthy, but seriously, if it is a bad picture, just delete it!
If you have pictures like the one of the Super Blood Moon I took with my phone that turned out super bad, then delete it!
I also deleted any pictures that I didn’t like.
Just as quickly as blurry or out of focus pictures went, so did pictures of people eating.
No one looks good while eating except for maybe babies when they smash cake into their face.
People’s faces just look weird while eating, so those went too. Plus, I’m not much for blackmailing people with bad pics.
Into the trash went pictures of people with weird expressions that I didn’t like or ones with bad lighting.
Cute picture of me with my youngest, but the lighting is so bad. Time to delete!
Out with the un-needed
I also deleted pictures I no longer needed.
Like pictures of items for finished home renovation & decoration projects. There was no reason to keep pictures of the different rugs I’d been considering buying because I already had made my choice. Those all went easily.
Or like the Super Blood Moon picture I just showed you. I only took that because my youngest fell asleep before the moon did it’s super blood thing and I knew he would appreciate a picture of it. After I showed it to him, I should’ve just deleted it!
Similarly, the pictures I had taken at various school events for the purpose of promotion of PTA events also were deleted if I didn’t think I’d have a use for them going forward.
Also deleted were pictures from long ago that were no longer meaningful. Like a few of that friend that was nasty to me and we no longer speak, uh, bye girl!
No room for more than one
For pictures that were really similar, I picked the best of the bunch.
Take these pictures of my handsome hubby for example. Which one do you think I kept?
This picture is great except for the unfortunate position of the cords.
But in this picture, taken just a few seconds later, is fantastic!
I was able to get the money shot of his unobstructed face.
So easy to see that the second one is the keeper, right?
Since my de-cluttering goal was to pare down the mass of pictures to a manageable number, keeping three very similar pictures was not going to help me reach my goal.
In the Spring & Summer, I get especially camera happy in my garden and snapped tons of close-up of pictures of flowers. I kept the best of the lot and let the others go.
And that’s all there really is to it!
These simple guidelines helped me to quickly cull over 3,000 photos from my collection pretty easily.
To re-cap my plan of attack so you can apply it to your hoard of pictures, here are the steps to follow:
- Focus on quality over quantity.
- Keep only good pictures. What’s good? In focus, not blurry and it has to be a picture you like. If the photo makes you sad or unhappy, let it go. Life’s too short!
- Set a goal and be ruthless! When you have a specific goal set, it’ll make it easier to figure out what to let go of.
How to avoid having to deal with this many pictures again?
Definitely a keeper! Both the man and the picture!
1. Think before you snap
Is the picture is going to be “keep worthy” (Seinfeld friends, think back to Elaine’s dilemma when a certain favorite product was discontinued)?
If you know you probably won’t need or want the picture, don’t even take it!
In other words, be careful when you take pictures and take high quality shots instead of taking a gazillion and hoping that one or two come out.
It’s better and easier to compose a few shots that’ll be stellar.
2. Delete as you go
Take a quick peek at what you’ve just snapped and delete anything that doesn’t make the cut.
Repeat after you’ve uploaded or synced the photos to your computer/cloud service/etc.
3. Review once in a while
Periodically review your pictures saved on your computer/cloud service/etc and see if there are any that no longer suit your fancy.
Don’t put this task off and let pics build up to a point where you’ll be overwhelmed.
4. Do something with the pictures
If you’re anything like me, then you are saving more pictures than you need because you plan on doing something (something fabulous, no doubt) with them and you want to have options.
So get going with those fab plans already.
Scrapbook that event, or better yet, fake it and pre-plan your creation. Get rid of pictures that don’t make the cut.
Here’s a fun infographic that sums up today’s post quite nicely!
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