How many times have you said, “Wait, hold that pose…my phone storage is full, I need to delete something!”
While digital photography and the smartphone era has expanded our ability to capture moments, be creative with photography and video, share images easily, and connect with people across the globe, it’s also created a massive amount of digital clutter!
I created the Digital Declutter platform to help everyone (including myself!) use technology in ways that help us feel good, do good, and live well.
Less digital clutter → less screen time and frustration → more time and energy to enjoy daily life!
This is especially true when it comes to digital photos. They can really add joy and connection into our lives, if we keep the clutter to a minimum and use them mindfully! Photos are incredibly important to us, yet most of us tolerate an over-the-top level of clutter on our phone’s camera roll or wherever digital photos are stored.
Keeping digital clutter to a minimum can help us truly appreciate our photos.
Looking for expert advice, I sourced the best tips and methods for digital photo decluttering from professional organizers. Here’s what they recommend for what might feel like a daunting task. (You can do it! 🥳)
✂️ Declutter as you go
This tip is from me, your humble host, Sheila Penton of Online-EA! 🙂
Don’t wait until your phone storage fills up. Delete as you go.
Digital cameras allow us to take soo many photos so quickly that it’s easy to be less-than mindful about what we’re documenting — and we end up with WAY more pictures than we need or want!
Build a habit of picking out your favourite one or two photos in a bunch right away (especially if you take a “burst” of photos). Then delete the rest immediately.
If you don’t have time at that very moment, this is a great 10-minute decluttering and relaxing activity at the end of busy photo-taking days like vacation and holidays. You can even do it on airplane mode. 😉
Your future self will thank you.
About Sheila: I’m an enthusiastic Executive Assistant and Administrative Consultant with a passion for inspiring joy in everyday life. (Yep, even when it comes to digital decluttering.)
I’m also the creator of Digital Declutter, a radically supportive online learning platform and community. With almost two decades of experience supporting top-level executives, I offer a focused, accessible approach to supporting everyone in improving digital habits and technology use.
📅 Set aside time
Here’s a great tip from Andi Willis of Good Life Photo Solutions:
Dedicate regular time for organizing your photos.
Set aside time to do maintenance on your digital photos just like you do for your car. Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, find time to delete the junk shots, save photos shared with you via emails and texts, and be sure your photos are backed up.
Then spend some time enjoying your photos by printing a few favorites or sharing them on your favorite social media platform!
Check out Andi’s inspiration to delete your “junk photos” now! https://goodlifephotosolutions.com/permission-granted-delete-junk-photos/
Andi Willis has always been passionate about family history and old photos. As a Certified Personal Photo Organizer, her goals are making memories last and preserving family legacies for her clients. Working with printed photographs and digital images, Andi strives to create a photo collection that is well organized, easy to access, and ready to be enjoyed for generations to come. Andi lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband.
🗑 Start with the easy stuff
Hilda Rodgers is an absolute pro when it comes to organizing. She helps busy women declutter and organize their homes, offices, and lives with her company, From Overwhelmed To Organized (what a great name!).
Hilda’s tip: Start cleaning up with the easiest photos to get rid of.
Photos are sentimental! When decluttering and thinning down your collection, start with the ones that will be the least sentimental. That will help you gain confidence in purging and you won’t get bogged down in memories or overwhelmed making decisions.
💡 And that’s a great tip for decluttering in general: Any organizing project feels more doable if you start with something low-stakes and build up to the more emotionally charged items.
And take your time! Decluttering can be a long-term project.
Hilda Rodgers is a wife, mom to two teenagers, and professional organizer. She volunteers in several capacities within Professional Organizers in Canada, 100 Women Who Care Mississauga, and various other charities/organizations. Hilda helps busy women declutter and organize their homes, offices, and lives so they can spend time being with the people they love and doing the things they are passionate about. She loves anything purple and all things chocolate.
Photos are meant to be enjoyed (which means: bring us joy!) and it’s hard to do that when they’re scattered all over.
Which brings us to this tip from Charissa Kovin of Forget Me Not Photos:
Consolidate all digital images into one central location, called a “digital hub.” The digital hub will contain folders labeled for each source, perhaps folders of images from cloud services, external hard drives, phones, computers, flash drives, SD cards, CDs — just to name a few.
Once all your images are gathered in one location, software can be used to quickly search and remove duplicates. Your final library can be stored on a hard drive and uploaded to a preferred cloud service for enjoying and sharing.
Charissa Kovin’s Forget Me Not Photos aims to organize and preserve your photo collection. It’s one-stop solution to get control of your photos and preserve them for the future! They create a single, sorted, searchable, shareable, and secure photo library for enjoyment of your precious memories.
Services include print and digital photo organizing, scanning, video conversions, slideshows, custom photo books, and photo restoration. Get the peace of mind knowing your memories are safe, accessible, and future-proofed in a way that brings you joy and ensures that the next generation will love and embrace your stories.
🧹 Use a photo cleaning software
Software that tidies photos for you!? Yes, please!
Nowadays, software can search your photos and eliminate duplicates for you. Here’s a super helpful article from Techpout with reviews of 15 photo cleaning programs. Which one is right for you?
🎞 Savor your memories with a timeline
Hazel Thornton of Organized for Life and Beyond shares a creative way to enjoy and tidy your photos:
Create a photo timeline of significant life and family events: births, marriages, deaths, moves, vacations, etc. Even if you don’t organize all your photos yourself, this will help someone else do it.
Don’t worry if you can’t remember everything. Just start, and add to the timeline as you go.
A little genealogy research can go a long way towards helping you identify and organize older photos.
Hazel Thornton is the author of What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy.
🔐 Use the 3-2-1 back-up plan
Have you thought about backing up your photos?
Cathi Nelson of The Photo Managers shared her brilliant back-up best practices: the 3-2-1- Backup Plan.
You should have THREE copies, on TWO different media types with ONE offsite or on the cloud. Do this to ensure your photos are safe from catastrophic events or system failures.
Cathi Nelson is the CEO and founder of The Photo Managers, a global membership organization that serves entrepreneurs through training, professional certification, partnerships, and educational conferences.
Cathi’s mission is twofold: to help small businesses worldwide achieve success as professional photo managers and to educate consumers on the importance of organizing, saving, and sharing their photos and videos.
When she is not working you’ll find Cathi daydreaming about her next hiking adventure or practicing a new sport be it pickleball or golf.
Let’s get decluttering!
Ready to make it happen? Here’s a checklist of our professional advice for decluttering photos:
- Declutter as you go. Pick your favourite one or two photos in a bunch right away then delete the rest immediately.
- Dedicate regular time for organizing your photos. Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, just make time!
- Start with the easiest photos to get rid of. When thinning down your photo collection, start with the ones that will be the least sentimental.
- Consolidate all digital images into one central location, called a “digital hub.” This will give you a central place to look at your photos and help you find any duplicates!
- Create a personal photo timeline of significant life events. This will help you savor your photos, and probably get you decluttering along the way.
- Use the 3-2-1- Backup Plan: THREE copies, on TWO different media types with ONE offsite or on the cloud.
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