Ready for the next addition to the No Brainer Things to Toss series? If you’re currently on a decluttering rampage in your home, this series is the perfect place to start. So far in the series, we’ve covered:
- No Brainer Things to Toss in Your Kitchen Decluttering Session
- No Brainer Things to Toss in Your Home Office Decluttering Session
- No Brainer Things to Toss in Your Closet Decluttering Session
- No Brainer Things to Toss in Your Garage Decluttering Session
- No Brainer Things to Toss in Your Paper Decluttering Session
Today we’re tackling the topic of print photo decluttering! Since September is Save Your Photos Month, it seems like the perfect time to compile a No Brainer list centered around photo decluttering.
Of course, photos come in both the print and digital variety. BOTH types of photo collections can typically benefit from a thorough decluttering process. In this post, I’ll be honing in on print photos.
During the past year, I spent lots of time slowly working through box after box of print photos that have been stashed away in old photo albums and in photo boxes throughout our home (you can see the beginning state of my print photo collection here).
As I sorted through those mounds of photos, I came up with a set of decision rules about what print photos I wanted to toss from my collection in order to pare it down. Today, I’m sharing my list of decision rules with you in the form of a “No Brainer” print photo categories toss list.
When it’s time for you to turn your attention to photo decluttering, I recommend that you create a set of decision rules upfront, as it really does help to expedite the “should I keep or toss this photo?” decision-making process.
Keep in mind that your decision rules may be different from mine. And that’s o.k.!
The point of the exercise is to identify categories upfront so that when you come across a photo that falls into these categories, you know to automatically toss the photo. This will cut down on decision-making fatigue and help you to work longer during your photo decluttering sessions.
Ready? Let’s go.
THE PRINT PHOTO DECLUTTERING TOSS LIST
1. DUPLICATE PHOTOS
Faces hidden to protect the innocent
Remember the whole “low-hanging fruit” concept that I’ve mentioned in previous posts in the No Brainer series? The lowest hanging fruit in photo decluttering is the category of duplicate photos. I immediately remove any duplicates when I encounter them.
If you think someone you know would appreciate those duplicates, feel free to pass them on. Or if you want to avoid creating a project for yourself, I give you full permission to place them in the circular file cabinet my friend.
2. “ALMOST” DUPLICATE PHOTOS
Similar to the category of duplicate photos are those groups of very similar photos that all capture essentially the same moment in time or the same object at slightly different angles or vantage points.
When we built our first home, we were beyond excited when the builders began creating the home foundation. We were so excited, in fact, that I snapped approximately 78 photos of the homesite that day.
Do I need all 78 different images of this milestone? Nope. Just one will do.
3. UNFLATTERING PHOTOS
One of the many advantages of the digital photography era is that unflattering photos typically never make it to print form. We’re usually quick to delete these from the memory card just as soon as we encounter them.
Unfortunately, I’m old enough that I encountered
too many unflattering shots of myself as I sifted through years of print photos. Who wants their double-chin to be captured forever on print and passed down for future generations to make fun of? Not me. Bye Bye.
4. SCENERY PHOTOS
I realize that this is one of those categories that others might feel differently than I do. If you’re a pro photographer, or someone who is really inspired by nature, then, by all means, keep that stash of scenery photos. For me, they are meaningful in the short-term, but not so much years later.
This image of St. Croix was taken on my honeymoon (obviously a meaningful moment in my life). But I’d much rather enjoy the photos that include my husband and I together with the gorgeous scenery in the background, since that is the essence of the memory.
5. UNDEREXPOSED PHOTOS
Moving on, these next set of “toss” criteria are related to the image quality. First up: underexposed photos.
Yes, this photo captures a significant life event (my husband’s graduation from business school). But it captures the moment poorly. I can barely make out any details in this underexposed photo (plus I’ve got about 800 other photos of this graduation ceremony that are higher quality).
6. OVEREXPOSED/BLURRY PHOTOS
Same goes for blurry photos and overexposed photos. An easy rule of thumb is that if the photo is overexposed to the point that you can’t make out the subjects’ faces, it needs to go.
7. POORLY COMPOSED PHOTOS
I think we can all agree that this photographer won’t be winning any major awards for his work. Unless your subject is Ichabod Crane, those photos of headless peeps should really make their way to the trash can.
8. PHOTOS WITH DISTANT SUBJECTS
And then there are those photos that had the potential to be great…if only you were standing 100 yards closer to your subject. Let them go.
9. PHOTOS OF YOUR EX
So now we transition from using photo quality as our decision-making criteria to considering the people who are in the photo.
Again, this rule might be controversial, but with a few exceptions, I decided to remove photos of ex-boyfriends from my photo collection. Maybe you’ll decide to keep photos of people who you have fond memories of, while removing photos that represent bad relationships from your past.
Do what feels right to you.
10. – PHOTOS OF PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW
Love these cute Halloween costumes…but who are these people?
If you find yourself asking that question, it’s a no brainer toss photo for sure!
What categories will choose to include in your no brainer photo decluttering list? What other categories will you add? And the biggest question of all…will you keep photos of your EXs??!?
Once you’ve conquered your print photo collection, join the Digital Photo Organizing Challenge! I’ll walk you through my step-by-step process for turning your digital photo chaos into a beautifully organized collection (you’ll be able to find any photo in 5 seconds or less!).
Be sure to download my Declutter Tool Kit, a free resource for helping you declutter your home from top to bottom. Click on the image below to grab your copy:
Check out these other posts to help you declutter & organize your photo collection:
Ready to get epically organized?
Get access to 100+ printable pages to help you organize your home and life!