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Digital Photos: How to Decide What to Keep

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Ask my family or friends…I am a Mamarazzi.  I seldom go to any family or children’s event without a camera in hand.  And oh how I love digital!  Even back in the days of film, I took a lot of pictures…but with digital, that number has risen to a new high.  My favorite thing about digital? I love that I can take as many pictures as I want and then delete the ones I don’t need.  I used to spend a lot of money on developing costs…now I spend it on new camera equipment!

For most of us though, the reality is that while we have the ability to delete, we don’t always do so.  Digital hoarding has become a real problem in our society.  Photos you don’t need are digital clutter…just like all those physical things around your house you don’t need.  Keep all those photos on your computer, and you’ll eat up your hard drive space, and slow it down.  Digital clutter also slows YOU down too. The more pictures you have, the more time it takes the time to find the one you need.

A new year is a good time to start new habits!  The key with digital is to be ruthless.  There are lots of photos we take that we don’t need. My motto is to keep the best, delete the rest. (Gasp). Yes, I said DELETE.

Save only the best. If you have a hard time deleting photos, try doing this in baby steps. When you first download your photos, take a quick run through and delete all the blurry and duplicate pictures right away. Then go back and be a little more ruthless. Do you have 10 pictures of your son building a sandcastle at the beach? Pick 1 or 2 to save. If you can’t bring yourself to do this right away, give yourself a week (or a month).  Giving yourself a little time sometimes makes it easier to purge. You will find that this process gets easier and easier.



Resist photo storage guilt. Do you take pictures of sports or other events your children are involved in?  Go through the same process with these photos.  Afterwards, post the pictures online and share.  If you create projects for your team, wait till after the season is over and you are finished with your project, and then go back through, keep the best (notice I said best, not all) pictures of your own child and delete the rest of them. You’ve already shared them; you don’t need to store them.  The screen shot I am sharing below is of one particular soccer game this fall.  I’ve already shared these photos in a place where everyone on the team has access to them and created a team calendar, so before the spring season starts, I’ll be deleting most of these photos from my computer.

Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 12.04.48 AM


Consider storytelling. When deciding what to save, consider which pictures help you tell a story.  Did you take a bunch of landscape photos on your last vacation?  Keep only the ones you need to tell the story.  The photos with people in them are the most interesting now and will also be of more interest later to future generations.  Chances are 25 pictures of pretty flowers you saw on your vacation won’t have much meaning to anyone a year from now.  However, if you’re creating a photo book of an event, some of those “detail” pictures (interesting architecture, landscapes, even food) should be kept because they help tell the story. Your photos are all about your life experiences. By saving only your best photos and those photos that are part of the story, you will find it much easier to preserve your memories in albums or digital photo books.  Notice how I’ve included some “detail” pictures on my pages below.



Once you’re on the road to reducing your “digital photo clutter” with your current photos, you can start working backwards.  But don’t start with old photos…you need to create new habits going forward.  What are your best tips for deciding which digital photos to keep?








Wednesday 26th of February 2014

I try to cull the herd but not always sucessful. I start out first with deleting the ones that are obviously bad shots (really out of focus, shot the ground by accident, etc.) and then on to the duplicates. That's when I get hung up :) But I have an external HD, the HD, and I'm debating burning to DVD as well.


Saturday 14th of September 2013

I make sure I organize them on the computer, but then I never print them out...that is so bad, isn't it? I need a better way to get them in hard copy so everyone can look at them.

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 14th of September 2013

Not to scare you, but its a matter of WHEN your computer crashes, not IF. Those photos should be backed up somewhere else too (I prefer cloud storage) and your best ones should be printed as well. Your printed photo is your best form of backup.


Friday 13th of September 2013

Ah yes, Michelle... photo storage guilt. This guilt tends to affect us not only with photos, but with many things we hold onto for the wrong reason! If you don't love the photo, don't keep it! Great advice.....

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 14th of September 2013

Oh that's so true Seana! I need to apply the principles I so easily apply to photos to other areas of my life!