April 10, 2023

Make it Routine: Monthly Photo Maintenance

If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while, you’ll know I always post a monthly reminder to clean-up your photo library at the start of every new month. My PICS method is a great system for helping you make this a reality.

P=Prepare

I=Inspect

C=Collect

S=Strengthen

I spent YEARS organizing my own photo library before helping other people get a handle on their own collection. I have tried many different systems and after all that experimenting, I always go back to my simple ways. Tackling your photos does not need to be a complicated process. It just needs to be a habit. The key to keeping on top of anything in your life is to be proactive instead of reactive. Consider this similar to going to the doctor for regular check-ups before there is a concern or taking your car to the mechanic for your 10,000 mile service. Just like anything else, a little preventative care goes a long way with your photos! Trust me…..future you will thank you!

So why should you care? The problem these days is that we take SO MANY photos. (I just read a statistic that there are 54,400 photos taken EVERY SECOND in the world. Are you kidding me?) The sheer volume is daunting. Pics of information we need to reference, photos of things at the grocery store, our food, pics of where we parked in a parking lot, or my favorite, pics of weird rashes to show our doctor/spouse/friend. Our photos are a hodgepodge of random moments in our life…and not all of them need to be remembered (especially not the weird rashy ones). If you don’t delete the junk, it’s hard to enjoy or find the jewels hidden in there. Most of the photos we take today are being held hostage on our phones. People I work with are so overwhelmed by the volume of photos they have to deal with, it makes it hard to get those photos into a place where they can be enjoyed. More is NOT more. More is paralyzing.

Before you really dive into deleting sorting, I want to make sure you are in the right mindset. It’s always good to have a little clarity about what you’re working towards. This is where the PICS method begins. The first step to this monthly habit I want to encourage is to do a little proactive thinking.

PREPARE 

yourself by asking some questions to set some goals. Having a clear vision in mind will help you make easier decisions as you look through your photos from the past month.

  • Does this photo or photos help tell the story I want to be told about my life and family?

  • How many photos a month do I want to keep for our family collection?

Having these things thought out really helps me when I clean out my photos from the month. There is no wrong way to answer the questions. You could have a photo that means nothing to someone else but tells an amazing story about your family. As for the second question, let’s take a look at the math. If I keep 100 photos a month, that adds up to 1200 photos a year. In ten years, that’s 12,000. In 20 years, that doubles to 24,000. You get the point. In an 80-year lifespan, that could add up to almost 100,000 photos. That’s A LOT of pictures for one person. AND that’s a lot of photos to turn over to a family member at some point. I mean, who is going to want to look through 100,000 photos? If my parents gave me that, I would cry.

Bonus Note:

In my experience with working with people on their photo collection, the people with a smaller library are less overwhelmed, more likely to enjoy their photos and feel a great sense of calm about their memories. Less truly leads to MORE where it matters.

INSPECT

your photos from the last month and delete, delete, delete!

Our camera rolls have become crowded with “pictures” that don’t deserve a place in our family archive. Making the decisions NOW about photos from the past month and you will be in a much better position in the future. Pick the best of the burst shots, pick the best of the similar photos. Don’t get stuck hemming and hawing over which one to keep. Long term, you’ll be so happy you made any decisions and have less photos to manage. Delete accidental photos, blurry photos, screenshots you don’t need. And please, please, please….you 100% have my permission to delete any photos that make you feel bad or give you negative energy. You are in control of the story your photos tell about your life and there is no room for bad juju.

Bonus Note:

As far as the screenshots are concerned, you could take it one step further by putting those in a notes app so they can be deleted from your camera roll all together.

COLLECT

other photos that might help complete your story.

The beauty of digital photos is that they are so easy to share with others. I get text messages with photos, emails, dropbox links, google links, people post photos on facebook, on other social media sites. Recently, my daughter’s soccer team posted a full team photo on their sports app so I needed to make sure to save it for myself. I also had some photos taken by a photographer and needed to download those from an email she had sent. Same goes for shared albums in Apple photos. If you want any photos from other people that tell your family’s story from this last month, now is the time to get it while you can. Just this morning, I had an email from school with graduation photos I could purchase. You better believe I clicked the link and got the picture of my daughter getting her 8th grade diploma to add to our collection.

Bonus Note:

If you want to take it a step further, you can scan or photograph anything physical you would like to have included in your memories for the month. I’m thinking about kids holding their trophies, pics of artwork they have brought home, certificates they have earned. I like to get my child in the photo with their 3D art (such as pottery or the like) so I can remember their age when they did that piece of art or received that trophy. The great thing is that you can feel free to recycle or trash the original if it doesn’t fit in your space. I call that a win!

STRENGTHEN

your photo collection by backing it up!

No one wants to see their hard work washed away in the event of a natural disaster or a technical failure. I suggest to people to wait until they have their camera roll cleaned up before they back it up. (There is a difference between a sync and a back-up. With a proper back-up, you can delete items from your phone and it will still be in the other location because it is a one-way back-up. With a sync, anything you delete from your phone will delete from the other location because it’s a two-way sync. Apple photos is a sync, NOT a back-up.)

Bonus Note:

Photo organizers will preach to you the 3-2-1 back-up system. This is the idea of having three copies of your photos on 2 types of media and at least 1 in the cloud. There is no one way to do this. My personal 3 copies are 1)Apple Photos, 2)my computer hard drive-I export them from Apple Photos and save them to my hard drive and 3) CrashPlan off site back-up. You could do it many other ways. You could use Apple Photos, Dropbox and an external hard drive. You could use your PC computer, an external hard drive and Google photos. You could use your computer, an external hard drive you keep at your sister’s house and OneDrive Cloud. As long as you are using the 3-2-1 system, you will get a seal of approval from me.

Extra tips to make it even THAT MUCH EASIER!

  1. Do a daily delete. Spend a minute every evening cleaning up your pics from the current day. Make it part of your wind down routine.

  2. Mark your favorites. This could be by adding a heart, a color code or a numerical rating to your photos. Question to ponder: If a photo isn’t one of your favorites, is it even worth keeping?

  3. Add tags or facial recognition to your pictures. Lots of software will use their own AI to add tags to your photos but you also might want to add some of your own unique keywords/tags to make searching your photos even easier. Again, “Future You” will thank you. Facial recognition often needs a little bit of training from the user. It gets better and better at identifying people with just a little bit of effort from you.

  4. Look at your printed photos. The good news is that we all took far less photos back when we had to take our film to get developed. If you tackle a small bit of your printed photo collected on a regular basis, you will also feel much calmer and lighter. As you work to make this monthly photo maintenance a habit for your digital photos, use that momentum to get a handle on your printed photos as well.

So there you have it! Use my PICS method each month and you will be rewarded with benefits now and in the future. Be patient with yourself as you clear space in your camera roll for future fun and memories. Adventure awaits!

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