3 Steps to Declutter Digital Images

Are you with me? You have so many digital pictures sitting on your computer and languishing on your phone, that you get overwhelmed thinking about what to do with them. I totally understand. As a professional photographer, I must have a digital workflow to efficiently go through clients’ images. I have to be able to deliver them in a timely manner, send images to be printed, and have a long-term storage plan. Am I as efficient with my personal files? I try.

I get it. It’s often a challenge getting the pictures off your camera and on to the computer. Then there is the needed time to file them in order—any kind of order. Or rename them. Or develop a filing system that will make sense tomorrow. Don’t give up! I’ll give you 3 steps (okay, kinda 4 steps) to get your digital images sorted, culled, printed, and filed. Your archiving future will look so much brighter once you’ve developed these quick organizational habits.

You ready?

Oh yeah, a little warning. This is not going to happen in the next 15 minutes. We’ll do this together in little spurts over the next few weeks.

Step One: stop taking so many pictures

Oh goodness. Are you ok? It’s a hard pill to swallow, yet you know it’s true.

We’ve become trigger-finger happy. Every outfit is worthy of a selfie. Every uttered chuckle beckons to be captured. We are living too much of our lives behind a camera (or phone).

I’m not saying to stop taking pictures … of course not … duh. However, it’s time you step back and realize that every beautiful picture you capture is going to need attention at a later date. And most likely, YOU will be the one who has to do it. Also, be aware of access issues: pictures you’ve uploaded onto social media or stored in a cloud system, can only be accessed by you. If anything happens, all of those precious moments will be lost—or at least really hard to access by someone else.

How many times do you sit down around the kitchen table and go through all your digital images with family? Do your parents come over for Christmas, pop open your laptop, and conveniently scroll through the years of memories? Not likely, but possible. Even if this happens, how many of those pictures are actually good?

Here is the bottom line: when we have too much … anything … it becomes common—less valuable. Dealing with it can become overwhelming. Paula Pant has written a helpful article on curating your life. She gives great examples of how keeping only the best simplifies your life, leads to more contentment, and helps you find greater value in fewer possessions (in our case, photos).


Let’s try this for the next week:

  • Think about how you want to pass on your pictures. Do you want to bequeath to your children and family members 30,000 selfies, blurry moments, dark weird blobs, and doggie photos? Or do you want to preserve a few special moments, showing what you valued and your personality?
  • Next, give that trigger-finger a break. Before you whip out your camera or phone, ask yourself: “Is this picture worth it?” And remember: this worth is defined by you. Is it worth the time taking it, and then deleting it later? Is it worth printing for display?

Maybe having lots of photos on your phone to thumb through while commuting to work is worth it. Or, then again, maybe not.

We’ll continue next time with Step Two: General Sorting



Let me know what you think! Are you going to join me on my digital declutter adventure?