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Organizing Photos: Do You Really Need to Keep Them All? | Families

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Organizing Photos: Do You Really Need to Keep Them All?
Organizing Photos: Do You Really Need to Keep Them All?

You have thousands of pictures in photo albums, developers envelopes and assorted bins and boxes. You also have thousands of digital pictures on your computer, your phone and an array of USB drives and SD cards. There are some truly precious pictures in those thousands of photos, really, there are. But all they all treasures? Do you really need to keep them all? As a Certified Personal Photo Organizer, I’m going to tell you the cold hard truth. The answer is no.

In your treasure trove of photos you probably have numerous:

  • duplicates
  • dark, blurry photos
  • pictures where not one person in the image are looking anywhere near the camera
  • pictures of the floor (sky, your leg - I find these on my iPhone all the time).

Those are actually easy ones to get rid of. But how can you pare down your large photo collection so that you keep the true treasures and not every single shot you’ve ever taken. In other words, how can you separate the wheat from the chaff?

There are a few ideas to consider.

The White House and the Grand Canyon

How many pictures of buildings, landscapes, or any shot without a person in it do you really need? Are you going to forget what the White House looks like if you don’t have 10 shots of it from slightly different angles.

Quick story - I have two photo albums that I put together from two European vacations my husband and I took - one to Florence, Italy in 1997 and one to Rome in 2001. Each album has around 150 photos. When I look at them now, I see pictures that are poor quality, dark, and devoid of people. Just a handful of pictures even have my husband or I in them and only 1 or 2 have us together. (Remember this was back in the dark ages before selfie sticks.)  We returned to Florence and Rome a few years ago with our kids, took much better pictures and we are in a lot more of them. I made the decision to pull out of those old albums the pictures with my husband or myself in them and just a handful of non-peopled photos. Out of approximately 300 pictures I am keeping about 15. If I want to see a picture of St. Peter’s Basilica, I will either look at my photo book from the 2013 trip with much better images or I’ll look online. These grainy, dark photos don’t need make the grade anymore.

The Kids, versions 1-10

How many pictures of the exact same group of people do you need?  If you take 10 shots of the kids trying to get “just the right shot” or just trying to get every one to look at the camera at the same time, pick your favorite 1-2 and delete the rest. One good thing about doing this is when you go to post one on Facebook or Instagram, you won’t accidentally post the one of your son picking his nose…unless, of course, that’s what you are going for.

While pre-sorting photos for a client, I noticed on one particular beach vacation they had about 20 pictures of their daughter playing in a puddle on the beach. When we took out photos when she wasn’t looking at the camera, she had started to crawl away, near identical shots, we had about 6 pictures left. Now the client is going to decide if she wants to keep and scan all 6 pictures. My guess is that she’ll pare that down to 3-4. Every little bit helps.


Reduce The Number of Photos

So do you think you can reduce the number of photos in your collection by 25-50%?

This applies especially to digital photos. We take so many pictures of mundane, everyday things like last night’s dinner at that fancy restaurant or the #sweatyselfie you shared with your running Facebook group.  In 25-50 years no one will want to look at that. They will want to see pictures of you and your family living life.

Printed photos can undergo the same scrutiny. When we didn’t know what the picture would look like until it came back from the developer, we tended to keep all 24 prints (and their duplicates) because we paid for them but surely, they are not all pictures you want to hold onto for prosperity.

TIP: Unsure of how many printed photos you have? A one-inch pile of pictures is approximately 100 photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pictures, I love looking at other people’s precious family photos but we don’t need to keep them all. Just like the stuff that clutters your home, having these sub-par pictures in your collection clutters your enjoyment of your wonderful memories. Keep shots that tell your story, show things and people you love and bring joy to your heart. The rest is just clutter.



Andi Willis is a Home and Photo Organizing Expert and the owner of Good Life Organizing based in Perry, GA.  She is a Professional Organizer who loves to help people find creative solutions to organize their homes and simplify their lives. Andi can help you get past the clutter and get on with your life! 


Find Andi at Good Life Organizing, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can also contact her by email or (478) 550-1969. Check out her guest blog and videos on Uncle Bob’s Self Storage Blog. You can also find her ebooks on Amazon.


Grab your copy of our  Home Organizing DIY Assessment Workbook. Find it at the Good Life Organizing Store along with our other ebooks.

If you would like to get more organizing tips and ideas, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. You’ll also get our 10 Easy Ways to Get More Organized tip sheet as a free gift.

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