Decluttering My Digital Photos and Videos

Last year’s photos broken down into monthly folders

May 30, 2017

Is it just me or does anyone else get overwhelmed by the amount of photos and videos they take?

Maybe it’s just me and that’s fine.  My husband, who fully supports my decluttering ventures and purges thinks that I should just leave the photos and videos I take of us and the kids alone.  But really?  How can I justify having 65 videos of the kids in one year?  It seems like a lot to me.  I don’t have videos of my childhood and I don’t feel neglected for that.  Well, my parents have them on VHS’s somewhere in their basement.

I love taking photos and videos of my kids.  But honestly, I don’t spend time looking at them everyday or often enough to justify keeping every single one of them.  To me, if I could minimize my digital albums to 5-10 photos and 3-5 videos per month, I’d be happy with that.

And maybe I’m feeling like this because I have just spent the past hour and a half looking through and deleting hundreds of digital pictures and videos.

Each month I download pictures and videos from my phone, camera and video camera (do people still use these?).  First off, why do I have THREE pieces of technology to capture pictures and videos?  Why is our culture obsessed with saving every moment of life digitally?  I’m assuming that 99% of the world takes those photos and video clips and uploads them to some social media platform.  I’m part of the 1% who doesn’t.  No Facebook.  No Twitter.  No Instagram.

Then I try to motivate myself to spend an hour looking through the month’s worth of digital memories and pick out the keepers and upload them to Shutterfly.  The videos go on a Scandisk, which gets put away in our lock box for safe keeping.

This – is – a – process.  I started this process before the new year.  I began decluttering our photos from our dating days and made my way up to our daughter’s first birthday.  Then I got lazy.

Coming from someone who loves to clean and declutter, the digital stuff is SO time consuming.  I sit and watch 40 second video clips or 2 minute clips and have to decide which one stays.

I figured out that if I took 10 photos of the kids every month (not each, just combined, only ten photos a month), that would be 10 x 12 months equaling 120 photos a year.  Then multiply that by 18 years (assuming that I will continue to take photos of them until they are 18 years old) that’s 2,160 photos!  That is absurd!  In my opinion at least.

I love my kiddos, I adore them to pieces, but I refuse, I utterly refuse to have over two thousand photos to look through when I’m an old bitty lady.  I’d rather be sitting on my porch sipping sweet tea and napping.  I also don’t want to impart all of that digital clutter to my kids.

Brian and I scanned our childhood photos into Drop Box this past winter and it took days.  It wasn’t fun.  We each came out with about 300 photos from birth to 20’s.

My parents only have a handful of photos from when they dated and those are the ones my mom has framed around the house.  Back in the day, taking photos was a luxury.  How many photos do you have of your grandparents or great-grandparents from their youth?  Not a whole lot I bet.  The only photo I have of my maternal grandparents is a wedding photo.  I don’t even have photos of my paternal grandparents from their young days.

So I did a little math.  I charted out how many photos and videos I have starting in 2014 (the year my daughter was born til now).  I have taken 643 photos and 179 videos.  On average, I take 214 photos and 60 videos a year.  Multiply that by 18 years and that’s 3,852 photos and 1,080 videos.  Oh, my.  Would my kids want to look through THAT many photos and videos of themselves?  Would ANYONE?

Again, maybe I’m taking this too far, but I would rather have my kids appreciate the handful of photos and videos I took of them, than be annoyed and overwhelmed that they have THAT many to sift through.  Or maybe they won’t even care and will just hit delete.  I don’t know.

I know that for myself, when I went through my childhood photos, I kept the most memorable ones and I’m content with having 295 photos.  I personally, would not be happy if my mom handed me thousands of photos and said, do with them as you wish.

For my own sanity, I need to remind myself of a few things to keep my digital memories in check.

Tips for Myself to Keep my Digital Photos and Videos in Check

Delete as I go

  • As I look through the 20 action shots I took of my daughter jumping in the rain puddle, delete 19 of them.  Keep the best one.  This was last week.  It was a rainy dreary week and I figured, let’s get out of this apartment and jump in some rain puddles!  It was lots of fun.  She danced and splashed and tried scooping up the water with her trusty pail, but I ended up taking over 20 photos of those sweet moments, instead of watching her, instead of watching my son’s face as he watched her.  I missed out.


  • Spend time at the end of the month to upload, download, my photos from my cellphone, video camera and camera and spend an hour with a almond milk hot chocolate and delete my little heart out.  Be ruthless!  I love watching the numbers in my trash bin go up.  I love the purging.

Be flexible

  • If we had a busy month of birthdays, adventure trips and family gatherings, be flexible.  I don’t need to be so rigid and stick to just 10 pictures that month.  I need to remember that they are little just once.  Like my husband said, it’s okay to have 3 videos of our son taking his first steps, he won’t do that again in his life.  It’s one milestone that will never take place again.  I have quite a few pictures and videos of our daughter enjoying her first Upstate New York snow.  It was our first winter here and I love seeing the joy on her face as she lays in the cold snow as if she were sunbathing at a beach.  She’s a snow creature for sure.

Limit my technology (added August 6, 2017)

  • Since writing this original post, I have limited the number of tools I use to take pictures and videos.  We decided to sell our video camera and camera and just use my cell phone for pictures and videos.  Not only does this make sense for our simple, minimalist lifestyle, but it also makes my handbag MUCH lighter.  I no longer have to carry around 3 pieces of heavy technology just to capture moments that I should really just be enjoying and experiencing anyway.  And since I always have my phone on me, it makes sense to use the technology that it always with me.

Parents, do your kids a favor and keep the best of the best when it comes to photos and videos.

Kiddos, I love you both forever and forever!  But we don’t need to keep thousands of photos and videos of you to prove how much I love you.


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