If a picture is worth a thousand words …

… then my phone is every set of the World Book Encyclopedia hidden in Grandma’s basement, stored on thrift store shelves, and sitting in dusty library back rooms.

Several months ago I got a bee in my bonnet about the photos piling up on my phone—I mean, have you SEEN my dog??—so I uploaded them all to my laptop. The idea was that I’d sort through them and put them in files—family, friends, grandkids, Nala, specific trips … you get the idea.

When the upload was finished, there were more than 15,000!

They weren’t in any kind of order because recently the fine folks who live inside my iPhone decided to switch their photo format from jpg to HEIC. You know that big long number that strings before the “dot jpg” before you rename a photo? Now I have two completely different photos from completely different days and events with that same big long number, one with the jpg extension and one with the HEIC extension.

Arrgghh.

All listed numerically, with no way to filter for duplicates, which probably make up a quarter of my pics.

Double arrgghh.

Okay, fine, I thought. I’ll still sort them into files, but I won’t be able to grab, say, a big chunk of an event. How hard could it be?

I’ll wait a minute until you’re done laughing.

I’m pretty tech savvy, but there is absolutely no way to do this easily. I have to grab each photo one at a time.

This is how it configures on my page. Some pictures are obvious even when they’re thumbnails. But what the heck is this? I have to click on it to see.

Oh, yeah. It was a close-up of the color and lace of my potential mother-of-the-groom dress I wanted to show my daughter-in-law. And no, it was not the one I ended up wearing.

And some I can’t even tell in the enlargement.

Oh, yeah. That might be the house where one of my characters lives. But then again, it might not be.

I have a ton of memes I’ve saved. But again, some are too small to see if they’re funny enough to keep so I have to take the time to enlarge it. And then I find it’s only mildly funny.

And some are big enough, but then I need to decide if they’re worth keeping.

I have a million things I’d like to buy, whether for myself or someone else. But because I never shop, all the cool things just live in my photos.

I also have three lifetimes worth of random screenshots. Why? So many reasons, all of them excellent. I take them to remind myself of things. I snap recipe instructions so I don’t have to go back and dig up the recipe. I capture salient points from articles I read. I take screenshots to teach someone how to do something on the computer. I’m looking at my phone right now and count seventeen different screenshots of shoes/boots one of my characters will wear. (I just need one pair, mind you.) I have screenshots of book ads—my own and others—that I’d like to replicate. Cute animals that I think the grandlittles might like. Games to play in my reader groups. Books I want to recommend. Books I want to read. Books I might choose for book club. And, of course, way too many screenshots of my home screen, for some inexplicable reason. Need I go on?  

But at least I have a million of these. I don’t know why or what they are, but I am confident they can go directly in the trash.

I have at least thirty of these “how to draw” pics that were are a craft page on Facebook. Have I learned how to draw cartoon animals? No, I have not. Have I given them to anyone so they can learn to draw cartoon animals? Again, no. Will I do so in the future? I sure seemed to think so back in March of 2019.

For a month or so I was very diligent about spending thirty minutes most days organizing these pics. Any more than that, however, and my eyes start crossing. It’s mind-numbingly tedious. And demoralizing because it’s so Sisyphean. Even if I could dispose of a hundred pics in a session, divided by fifteen thousand is still five months … and realistically, way more than that because the longer it goes on, the less I’m interested in doing it.

I was lamenting all of this to my husband and we got into a long discussion about the point of taking—and keeping—photos these days. We have a ton of photo albums from days of yore when we’d send off for prints, label the back as to pertinent deets, then slap them in an acetate album. (We even look through them every so often. I know!)

But digital photos? Sigh. Who are they for … and why? And it doesn’t help that I can take a dozen of essentially the same pic, but from a slightly different angle.

It used to be in iPhoto we could make a quick and easy photo book to print out. Just pick out the photos we wanted and drop them into a template. It was free, and since we own a printshop, also free for the color copies and the spiral binding. Easy peasy. But that went away and I haven’t found a replacement.

I think I won’t resolve this dilemma anytime soon, but I have a new plan going forward. Those 15,000 photos will sit and wait for me. But in the meantime, I’ve written on my calendar that on February 1st, I’ll go through my December phone pictures, delete what I don’t need, and upload the rest, putting them into their appropriate folders immediately. On March 1st I’ll deal with January photos and so forth throughout the year.

But now I’ve gotta ask … am I the only one who obsesses over this problem of photos? What have you done to tackle it? Got any tips for me to keep things under control? Anyone want to learn how to draw?? And what about the “Wizard of Ounces” … keep or trash?

39 thoughts on “If a picture is worth a thousand words …

  1. OH YES! But I mostly use a regular DSLR camera. I upload them to my computer on an external hard drive just for photos. (I learned my lesson when the computer crashed and I lost 3 years of pictures of family) I put them in files for each season of each year, and some special folders for cats, church events and grandkids. But the phone is a different animal. There are crazy photos of my swollen eyes I had to send my Dr, and knitted hat pictures for my church friends to see etc. You just reminded me that I need to go through and get rid of the stuff. When I got my old phone I just uploaded all the photos to a file called……..Old phone. And I have done nothing with it. Just like you, thousands. Good luck with your pictures. It’s like a little mystery trying to figure out what we take pictures of and why. LOL! BTW, I love the pictures of Nala!
    Carol

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, Carol, I’d forgotten how many pics of Nala’s poop I’ve taken over the years, for her doctors! I’d like to think I deleted those in a timely manner, but now I’m not so sure. I’m glad you like the pics of Nala, but now I’m worried I might inadvertently send poop pics!

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  2. Oh my goodness! So, Becky, it’s not just me? While I may not have 15.000 just yet, I certainly relate to everything else you said. I have screenshots of recipes, of passages in books, or how to make your own tinted lip balm (like I’m ever really going to track down those ingredients), as well as the odd shot of my feet and the bottom corner of the dishwasher and all of the other weird angles from accidentally taking a photo. I even signed up and PAID for a course on digital organizing!
    I haven’t gotten to the photo section yet (I need it for my laptop hard drive, my msn cloud, my google drive, my folder on my desktop, and my external hard drive and a flash drive or two where you will find multiple copies of crappy photos across ALL of those formats) because I am too busy organizing all of my random documents that are unhelpful my named and not in folders. So, yeah, no good advice from me!

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  3. I feel for you, Becky. I have my photos organized by year and Maria has her own folder, but that’s it. They are all backed up to OneDrive, where they sit, and to be honest, collect electronic dust. At least I know they’re there.

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    1. But, wow … organized by year?? That’s a step in the right direction. It would REALLY help me out if, when I’m uploading pics, my computer would say, “Really? You have seventeen duplicates of this photo.” Alas.

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  4. Becky, you crack me up. At least now I know why I’ve got duplicates of things – HEIC!

    I occasionally go through my photos and delete the things I obviously don’t want. I tend to organize pics into albums after an event, like Malice. I gave a passing thought to organizing the rest – but it passed pretty quickly.

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    1. LOL, Liz … we should rest with a cool cloth on our foreheads until we can quit thinking about it. And yes, when I discovered the HEIC thing, the wind was sucked from my organizational sails.

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  5. I’m the worst at organizing photos! We still have boxes of prints languishing in a closet. While we got an external drive to put all our “keeper” pics, I’ve had a pesky time curating all the photos. Also, my iPhone doesn’t like to play nice with the PC, so there are tech issues. And add to the mix that one of my kids adores using my phone to take random selfies & videos on the sly!

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  6. I also have a photo/ video problem. KaBOOM! I have to keep adding to my storage capacity! I try to clean up a little at a time, too. Daisy and family seem to be my favorite subjects with memes tossed in for good luck.

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    1. I’m a big advocate of taking little bites of a big problem. Unfortunately, and this seems to be your problem too, Tracy, is that every day the bite I take is much smaller than my penchant for taking more photos. Add that to the fact some days I don’t nibble at all, and even Tom Hanks can’t Apollo 13 his way out of it. Sob!

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  7. I’m glad I read this! I will NOT attempt to organize any photos. Sounds like that would take the rest of my life, and beyond. I have other things to do!

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  8. I just looked, and I have over 21,000 photos on my laptop. And yes, I did at one point start to go through them and jettison ones I no longer needed, but when it takes me over a minute to decide between two different angles of the same subject, you can imagine how far I get in a half hour. So there they sit.

    But it is useful having so many photos when I need to find something to go along with a blog post. Now remembering WHERE in those 21,ooo photos a particular one is? Not so easy….

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    1. Gah, I’m afraid to check how many total pics I have on my computer, if this batch dumped 15k in!

      Leslie, are your photos labeled? That’s half my problem. I might shuttle a bunch into my “Nala” file, but when I need one, I’m stuck in there forever trying to find just the right one. And when I do try to label, I run out of unique words. I end up with “Nala red pillow, red pillow Nala, Nala cuddling red pillow” but dozens more pics of her and her red velvet pillow.

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  9. Becky!! THAT’s why I have a problem accessing some photos I transfer from my phone to my PC. I was wondering where that stupid HEIC came from. ARGH!!

    And yes. Managing these photos is the bane of my existence. I used to make all these files for them. Now I basically figure out when I probably took a photo – December 2017?? – and find it in my PC Photos app. I do try to transfer the photos from my phone on a fairly regular basis and then delete them from my phone. But now I’m worried I’ll never be able to access them because Windows is so wonky when it comes to HEIC! Why oh why did Apple do this?!

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    1. The answer, as always, is the Techie Full Employment Act. If they didn’t constantly tinker, how would anyone know they’re invaluable to the world?

      Funny you should mention the date thing, Ellen. On my iphone, I can look at my photos by date, so I was going to load just one month’s worth and, like we talked about earlier, just take a small, manageable bite. Unfortunately, my computer doesn’t see or acknowledge the dates on my camera—or just really enjoys messing with me—so again, my best laid plans made me cry!

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      1. My computer also has a hard time recognizing phone photos…

        As for the HEIC, I believe there’s a workaround, at least with my current system. You have to go into Settings and then Camera and Formats. Instead of the High Efficiency label, use Most Compatible (which, written in fine print, says that it should always use jpeg/h.264).

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      2. I saw that setting, Jen, but, of course, not until after the fact. Unfortunately, on my iphone, it doesn’t stick and reverts to the default and I can’t figure out why. Sigh.

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  10. Easy answer: Keep Wizard of Ounces. Absolutely. Reminds me of the time Dom saw a magazine cover while we were at the grocery store and asked, “Who is Dr. Ounce?”

    Harder answer: What to do with all those snaps. I rarely/never take photos, unless they’re of my dog, Olive, and then they’re accompanied by such sharp observations as “TEETH!!!” (because of her adorable underbite) or “awwwwwwwwwww.” So I basically had to organize 47 photos, which I did by leaving in a single unlabeled folder.

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    1. See, Kathy? That’s why you’re a genius. You come up with the obvious answer … quit taking so many pics, but if you do, stick to one subject. Genius, I tells ya!

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  11. For the phone photos, I share the ones I want to really keep to my laptop, label them and put them on flash drives. I try to delete ones that I really don’t want asap. They are also uploaded to the cloud on google every once in a while, but those are harder to delete if I change my mind on them. The digital camera is easier because you can download them to your laptop, and it puts them in a date folder. For all of those taken with regular cameras, I used to do all of those scrapbooks yearly. They are all of those magnetized pages, and you can’t get them out of there as I wanted to make new albums with the newer products. But I digress, as at some point I just quit doing the albums. I put many of them by events and years in Ziploc bags. My goal is now to put them in photo boxes by event or family member, scan and label them in the photo storage boxes. 16 file boxes come in the storage box. So that is my plan this year. First, I will file them by persons or events. Later by years and then scan them. Hopefully I can get this done.

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    1. Scanning is cool. My sister gave us discs with tons of old family photos, arranged in a variety of ways for easy access. It must have been a huge process. And my hubs has scanned a bunch of old pics we inherited from my dad and from his. It takes time, though, and whenever the going gets tough we always question, “Why are we doing this??”

      Your photo boxes reminded me of our “baby books.” I never had the time or inclination to lovingly create one, but each of my kids had a big box with a lid I cleverly called their “Memory Box.” We’d just toss in anything we thought we’d want in the future. When they were older, they’d go through their boxes periodically and toss out bunches of stuff. Easy peasy and I was barely involved!

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      1. Becky,
        Our printer has a scanner, but you have to scan one at a time and save to a flash drive. So, we bought a photo scanner. I have not used it yet, but it supposedly scans an entire roll of photos that we had printed and saves them to the computer. That is another reason that I need to get this done as Hubby Dearest is mad that I have not used it. Even though our printer can print photos, we bought a phots printer so we can print large photos. Hubby Dearest has always taken photographs with his Nikons or Yaschica Twin Lens and now a several digital cameras. I liked to take photos also and have and old Nikon and now a great digital camera. My daddy loved photography and took lots of photos with carious cameras. My maternal grandfather was a famous photographer in South Texas in the early 1900s. His photos are at the Briscoe Center in Austin, Texas and digitized at the Library of Congress. They were all on glass plates. Robert Runyon. Your memory boxes sound great. My parents kind of did the same thing in a way as they never threw anything out.

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    2. I did go to Walmart and scanned a bunch of family vintage photos and put them on CD, but it takes a lot of time. Get a scanner that does multiples like we have. Now if I can just master it.

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  12. I randomly get excited when I happen across a photo I had completely forgotten about. I share it with someone I think will appreciate it. But I have no plan about saving it somewhere I could find it again. Becky you are so far ahead of the game!

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    1. LOL, Vickie … it sure doesn’t feel that way! And what you describe there is EXACTLY why so many of us have this problem! What if we could never find that photo again??

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  13. Um…organize pix ? To be honest, I never even considered attempting this. But I enjoy the surprise when the pix show up as “memories.” (Hey, this is great, I don’t remember this! Who took it (ha)?)

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