It’s time to cleanout your photos on your phone!

time to clean out your photos on your cell phoneWhen is a good time to clean out your digitial photos on your cell phone?

If you live in a state other than Arizona or Hawaii, you recently set your clocks back from daylight savings time to standard time.  A lot of people use this trigger of setting our clocks back an hour or forward an hour as a reminder to check and/or change the batteries in our smoke detectors.  You may also use it as a reminder to deal with other chores around the house such as time to plant the Spring bulbs in your garden or time you get the tires rotated on your car.  I would also like to suggest that it’s a good time to sit down and clean out your digital photos on your phone.  Some Photo Managers suggest that we do this at the beginning of every month.  So, since we just started a new month, you now have double the reason why it’s a good time to review and delete the photos on your phone.

Today our cameras/phones are with us all the time so we are taking lots of photos of the same event and lots of photos scenes outside or some of the crazy things we are doing in our homes these days.  And while we have the ability to easily delete photos, we don’t.  We have become digital hoarders with our digital clutter.  When you keep all those photos on your phone, you use up storage space and you eventually decide to buy a new phone with more storage to store all those photos rather than delete some of your photos.

So, you might ask, how do I decide what to keep and what to delete?

You want to save only the best ones.

If you have a hard time deleting photos, try doing it in baby steps or small increments.  After a special event or a vacation or a time when you know you have taken a lot of photos – such as Halloween – take a quick run through those photos and delete all the blurry and duplicates right away.  Then go back and be a bit more ruthless.  Do you have 10 pictures of your child building sand castles on the same day or in their Halloween costume or the crazy contraptions that people built this year to safely deliver Halloween candy? Pick 1 or 2 to save and delete the rest.  If you can’t bring yourself to delete a lot of them right away, give yourself some time and do it the first of next month.  After some time has gone by, it will be easier to delete. time to clean out your photos on your cell phone

Resist the feeling of photo guilt.  Do any of these comments sound familiar?

“Oh, it’s such a cute picture.”

“Oh, it’s such a beautiful sunset.”

“I have to save these photos of when she was young so I don’t forget.”

“I have to save these memories of his first soccer game so I won’t forget.”

Unless you are planning to create a photo book of that vacation or that soccer season, you want to go through the pictures and only keep the best ones and delete the rest.  You want to keep the photos that can tell the story of the event or the occasion.  The photos with people in them are the most interesting now and will also be years from now.  However, the 25 pictures of pretty flowers or sunsets or the food you ate will not have much meaning a year from now and even less meaning 25 years from now.

Your photos tell the story of your life experiences and by saving the best you will find it much easier to cherish those memories and pass them down to family members in digital photo books or in archived private, secure cloud storage.

Once you have deleted your photos, don’t forget to clear out the Recently Deleted Album on your phone so that you truly release the storage space.

As you are going through and cleaning up your photos on your phone, it is also a good time to organize them into albums. Start by identifying the topics or categories that will make it easier for you to find your photos.  Examples of topics are your children or grandchildren, pets, a special event, a vacation, your house and yard, or a specific topic such as food or sunsets.  Once you have identified these topics then you want to create albums on your phone for each of these topics and select and move the appropriate photos into these albums.  As you are organizing your photos into albums, you may come across additional photos that you want to delete.  This process does not duplicate your photo but instead tags it that it belongs to this particular album.

For additional information on cleaning up your cell phone photos, see my blog post titled Are your cell phone photos a mess?

Once you have taken the time to cleanout your current photos on your cell phone, you can start working backwards with your older photos on your phone or your computer.  Remember, just do it in small chunks of time, don’t try to do it all at once.


One option for preserving digital photos

Recently I did some unscientific research asking friends in a Facebook group what their biggest challenge is with their photos.  Many of the responses were around organization, storage and preseving their digital photos.  Here are a few of the responses:

  • Being able to upload them to the cloud in organized files
  • Something to indicate if photos have previously been archived
  • Organizing them into a simple system we can actually look at
  • Storing them in a way that they are easily accessible when needed
  • Being able to put all my photos neatly in a book


There is a solution to all of these problems and that is

Converting old media into heritage album in Forever


I was first introduced to FOREVER in 2014 at the annual conference of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (now known as The Photo Managers).  I was attracted to them because of their mission to help individuals preserve their family history by preserving their photos and documents.

Here are some of the features and benefits of having a FOREVER account:

  • You pay once and own your cloud storage. There is no subscription.  If you need more storage, you can purchase it.
  • The FOREVER guarantee that you will have access to your photos and documents for your lifetime plus 100 years. And they put this guarantee in writing.  As technology changes so will the way you access your photos and they will make those changes and not charge you anything extra.  They will migrate your stored content to the latest file formats over time so there are no worries when your DVDs and flash drives become obsolete.
  • Your files are triple backed up and secure.
  • Your files are completely private unless you choose to share them with family and friends. FOREVER will never data mine, advertise or sell your information.
  • You can access your photos and documents from anywhere on any device.
  • You can setup your account to automatically upload all your photos from your phone – iPhone or Android – so that all your photos are backed up and secure.
  • When you upload your photos to your account, from your computer, FOREVER automatically checks for duplicates and will alert you if that photo is already in your vault.
  • You can add descriptions to your photos and documents and they will stay with your file even when you download it.
  • You can organize your photos and documents into digital albums.

FOREVER also has services to convert all of your videos, slides and photos to digital format.  When they do, they will automatically upload your digital images to your account.

FOREVER also has an array of services for physically sharing your photos including photo books, photo gifts such as mugs, ornaments, calendars, table top panels, and wall décor.  And, they make it easy to create these items with drag and drop templates in many themes.Photo gift items that can be created in Forever

So, as you can see, FOREVER provides a solution for all of the issues that the respondents to my unscientific research identified.

If you would like to learn more about preserving your digital photos with FOREVER, click on this link.  When you do, you can sign up for a FREE 2 GB account and receive a $15 coupon good toward the purchase of more storage or any print item of your choice.


Note: If you purchase anything from FOREVER using my link, I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, I only support and recommend products I love and/or have tried myself.


Are your photos safe in the event of a natural disaster?

burning houseThe news lately has been full of stories of natural disasters affecting millions of people: fires in California, hurricanes in the northeast or along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and an earthquake in North Carolina.  What all of these have in common is that they could significantly damage our homes.  In addition, when the disaster is approaching, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare and to save our belongings, especially our photos.  It is important that our photos are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

When we are confronted with a natural disaster in our homes we try to protect and save what is most precious and important to us – the 3 P’s: people, pets, and photos.  People and pets are portable and are usually easy to evacuate.  But our photos may not be as portable.  If your photos are stored in boxes and bins in closets, basements, or attics or are displayed in photo albums on book shelves then it would be difficult to quickly grab them to get them out of your house and pile them into your vehicle.  However, if your photos have been digitized and stored on an external hard drive or safely in secure cloud storage then they are portable and accessible from anywhere.

Now is the time to think about securing your photos before you are confronted with a disaster.  Here are a few steps to follow to ensure that your photos are portable and safe.

  1. Locate and inventory all your photos

    When you start looking, you may be a bit surprised as to where you have stored your photos and how many you have.  Don’t just look for printed photos, also include slides and videos.  And don’t forget about memorabilia.  All of these items can be digitized.

  2. Sort and organize your photos

    sorting photosThere is no right or wrong way to organize your photos but it is an important thing to do in order to make them easier to access.  If they are already in some sort of chronological order (by decade, year, and month) then try as best you can to maintain that.  Otherwise, you may also want to consider organizing them thematically such as by event, location, holiday, family, kids’ sports, etc.

  3. Digitize your photos

    Digitizing your photo collection ensures that it is preserved, portable and easily accessible.  When digitizing, be sure to maintain the organizing structure that you created when sorting your photos.  Don’t just digitized a pile of photos because then you are left with a digital mess.  If there is writing on the back of the photo that helps to identify the location or people, then it is a good practice to also digitize the back of the photo.
    scanning photos

  4. Backup your photos

    Having your digitized photos in only one location, such as your computer, does not ensure their safety.  When you back them up to multiple locations such as an external hard drive and secure cloud storage, this ensures redundancy and protects them in case one type of media fails.

If you find that doing all of this work to preserve your photos is a bit overwhelming, you might want to consider hiring a professional, such as myself, to help you – a Certified Photo Manager.

Your photos are a precious procession, they reflect the story of your life, so it is important that they are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

Are Your Photos Backed Up?

Are your photos backed up and safe?  Our photos are one of our most precious personal items as they represent all of the special moments in our lives.  Therefore, it is important that we keep them safe.  How would you feel if you lost all of your digital photos?

I recently realized the importance of backing up my photos and documents when one day I couldn’t access any files on my external hard drive (EHD).  This EHD held all my personal document files, business document files and over two decades of personal photos.

I had just completed digitizing all of my late husband’s printed photos and putting them into electronic folders by categories on my EHD.  I had also created collages for his funeral service and stored them on the EHD before sending them to be printed.  Two days later, I plugged the EHD into my computer and the computer would not recognize any of the files on it.  Immediately panic mode set in.  I contacted a computer store near me and asked if they could try to recover the files.

That evening I remembered that I had a Backblaze account.  Backblaze is an automatic cloud backup service.  I have been using this service for the past few years to backup files on my computer and my EHD.  I logged into my account and checked on when the last backup occurred and it was just a few days earlier.  Immediately I initiated the recovery process for the EHD and waited and prayed.  It took several hours for the recovery to complete and then I initiated the download of the recovered files.  That took almost 24 hours.

In the meantime, the computer store told me that they were not able to recover any of the files on my old EHD but that for a lot of money it could be sent out somewhere to try to recover the files.  I decided to wait for the download of the recovered files from Backblaze.

Once the download completed, I opened it up and let out a huge sigh of relief – all of my files and photos were there.  I immediately copied everything to a new EHD.  I have also continued the process to upload all of my photos into my Forever account.

Don’t take a chance on losing all of your files and photos .  You never know when your computer or EHD will crash or when there will be a natural disaster and everything is lost.  I am so grateful that I spent the small amount of money each year on a Backblaze account.

The Photo Managers, the world’s leading educational community supporting the field of photo management, recommends the 3-2-1 backup methodology:  Three copies of your photos and files, stored on two different media or devices, and one copy stored off-site.

  • If you have your originals, either on your computer or an EHD, plus two more copies then you are creating a system with triple redundancy.
  • Having your original files and photos on one device and a copy on a second device or media, allows for immediate access to a backup if one device fails.
  • If you have all copies of your files and photos stored in your home, then they are at an unforeseen risk of something happening to your home such as a natural disaster, flood, fire or theft.  A cloud-based backup or storage solution is a good choice for this third location.

As an example: you can have your files and photos stored on your computer and on an EHD, backed up to a cloud service such as Backblaze, and your photos stored in Forever – a permanent, secure, private, shareable cloud-based storage system.

Don’t be at risk for losing all your precious photo memories and document files.  Setup a backup system that will take the worry out of preserving your memories.

Are your Cell Phone Photos a Mess?

When I tell someone that I am a Photo Manager their first reaction is “Oh my gosh, I need your help – my cell phone photos are a mess!”

Today we carry our cameras in our pockets – they are our cell phones.  Our cell phones are with us constantly and so we are taking more photos than ever before.  And, because we are home now due to the Coronavirus, we are probably taking even more photos of everything we are doing at home and everyone we are sheltering at home with just because. ‎Edit Advanced Layout Editor

We have thousands of photos on our phones.  We have photos of our children, grandchildren, pets, houses, places we went on vacation, food we eat, food we cook, funny sayings, screen shots, selfies, a sunset, a sunrise, and so much more.  And, we have multiple photos of all these people and events.

We take photos because we want to remember and capture specific moments in time and specific events.  But then they just sit on our phones.  It’s important to remember why we took the photos in the first place and to preserve them, share them, and enjoy them.

But what happens when you try to find a specific photo because you want to share it with someone?  Do you have to scroll through hundreds of photos until you find the one you are looking for?

Would you like to be able to find photos on your phone?

While you are sheltering at home for a few more weeks, it’s a great time to clean your cell phone photo mess and get your photos organized.  Here are a few simple things you can do to make it easier to find your photos and to preserve them.  Remember, though, that you probably have thousands of photos that you have accumulated over time so it will probably take you several sessions before you are finished.  As I like to tell my clients – you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time – so don’t get frustrated, just keep going.

Delete photos. Go through your photos, starting with the most recent, and delete your unwanted photos – the duplicates or similar ones, blurry photos, extra photos of scenery, and photos you no longer want to keep.  Do you really need to keep every photo of a beautiful sunset, for example?  Unless you are a professional photographer or you are planning a display of sunsets then you probably don’t need to keep all of them.  Keep the best one and delete the others.  You want to be ruthless and quick in this process and not think about it too much.  After you have deleted your photos, don’t forget to clear out the Recently Deleted album.  If you don’t then you won’t free up the space on your phone. ‎Edit Advanced Layout Editor

Mark your favorites – As you are culling through your photos, identify your favorites and mark them as such by clicking on the heart icon under the photo. Later when you want to find them, they will all be grouped together in a “Favorites” album on your phone.

Organize photos into albums. Start by identifying the topics or categories that will make it easier for you to find your photos.  Examples of topics are your children or grandchildren, pets, a special event, a vacation, your house and yard, or a specific topic such as food or sunsets.  Once you have identified these topics then you want to create albums on your phone for each of these topics and select and move the appropriate photos into these albums.  As you are organizing your photos into albums, you may come across additional photos that you want to delete. ‎Edit Advanced Layout Editor

Maintain the photos on your phone. You are going to continue taking photos so you want to set up a schedule to maintain your clean photo stream on your phone.  Schedule time once a month – the first day of the month or the last day of the month – to review your photos so that you don’t create a new mess.  Take the time to repeat steps 1 and 2 above – delete photos you don’t want to keep and move your photos into albums.

Backup your photos. In a natural disaster or fire, the three things that we want to save the most are people, pets and photos.  So, it is important to backup your photos so they are not lost.  I will be doing a separate article just on the options for backing up your photos, but for now, know that it is very important.

  • Backing up means to manually or automatically copy files from one location to another, usually from one physical drive to another, although it could also be to an online or cloud location. There are several options for this including Dropbox and FOREVER.
  • Syncing means to manually or automatically copy or delete files as needed to ensure that two locations have an identical set of files.  Your phone should at the very least be setup to sync to either iCloud for Apple phones or Google Photos for Android phones.  This way if your phone is lost or damaged you will be able to retrieve your photos from either of these locations.

Share. Now that your photos are organized, share them with someone.  Sharing photos and their stories is a wonderful way to stay connected with family and friends and we really need that connection now more than ever.

That’s it!  Not too difficult is it?  I hope these hints and tips have been helpful and that you are motivated to clean up your cell phone photo mess.  If you have found this helpful, leave me a comment below.

If you would like additional help with organizing your photos, printed or digital, please let me know – I would love to assist.