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How Many Photos are on Your Phone?

How Many Photos are on Your Phone?

I have a confession to make. I am one of those people. You know. The people who have thousands of photos stored on their phones. Embarrassingly I will admit that almost 15,000 photos dating back to 2015 are on my phone. They run the gamut of vacations, research trips, family gatherings, and books. Oh yes, lots of books. One day my son told someone that I have more photos of books and food than of my kids. Well, I don’t think it’s true, but I’ll admit it’s probably a close tie.

Iphone photos

Books and Quilts...that's about normal for me.


What do you take photos of? The options are endless with a cell phone or mobile device. As genealogists, we have the opportunity to take photos of documents, books, microfilm, and heritage travel. That’s wonderful and it’s such a great research tool. But it isn’t enough to take the photos, you need to get them off your phone.

This is a concern I’ve had for a few years. Those photos might “disappear” if they aren’t backed up by the time I get a new phone or this phone breaks. What happens if I shake off this mortal coil? Will my family take the time to go through 15,000 photos and retrieve the ones that are family memories? (That answer is no and I don’t blame them. So don't forget to share what's important.) I’ve spent some time reading about organizing the photos one collects on their phone and considering what I need to do to organize and focus my rather large phone photo collection. Some of what I have learned might help you.

Not every photo is a masterpiece. I don’t know about you but there are the photos I took to remember where I parked at the airport. There are the photos I took of who knows what that came out blurred. Or the one photo I thought I took that ended up being a burst of 20. Those photos that should be deleted end up being “hidden” by the countless other photos I take in the days after. So that is why it’s important to Delete.

You can delete photos while watching TV or waiting for an appointment. Go through and delete the ones that no longer serve a purpose (like the parking lot photo) or that aren’t worthy of saving to a more permanent solution (like the cloud). Keep deleting and remember to go back and delete every so often so you aren’t cluttering your storage with photos you don’t need. 

Save to something that’s not your phone. One way I solved my photo issue was to pay for a cloud backup. Now, every so often my iPhone is backed up to my Apple storage. I pay a few dollars a month and I no longer worry that those photos of loved ones or trips I took will disappear if my phone dies or If I accidentally delete too much. You will replace your phone at some point. Don’t leave your photos on it!

Organize those research trip photos. Research trip photos need to be downloaded and organized. Update your research log, save the photos to the appropriate folder. It’s too easy to leave them on your phone and forget. And there is never enough time in the far-off land of “I’ll do it later.”

Use Other Apps. I take a LOT of books photos. Or at least I did. Now before I start taking photos of the latest book I want, a little voice in my head says “Use GoodReads.” So I stop, open my GoodReads app and add the book to my list of books I want to read. I don’t need to take a photo and all my books are organized there.

It doesn’t matter what you use. Evernote, Dropbox, GoodReads, or a genealogy app, but there are some photos that might be better off as data in an app and not a photo on your phone.

What’s on your phone?

Your photos are important so why keep them on your phone? Take some time to organize, delete, and upload your photos to another storage device, app, or even print them (gasp!, remember when we did that?!) Make sure that your photos live on by getting them off your phone.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



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THIS is just what I needed to clean up my photos. Thanks a million for taking time to post this.

I think I have about 5K fotos in my phone and that they're in iCloud. I take a foto of every one of the dinners I prepare - that's about 5 - 7 dinners a week; why? because I'm a foodie, love to cook and love to eat. I've used some in my books and posted the to Instagram. I also have family fotos dating to 1900s, but not in phone, those were hard copies and I've scanned about 8K of them so far. It's a never ending job and quite tedious for me, as I follow a rigid naming protocol. The ones worth keeping, which of course were most of them, are stored in special foto boxes by decades. Lately, between genealogy research, this and that and the other, I've neglected the scanning but plan to get back to it and keep culling the remaining boxes.

Thank heavens you finally mentioned your photos being backed up to the cloud!!
Because you did not add in "what if your phone is lost or stolen?" Which happens to many people every day!!!
Continuous, or very frequent, backups are a Must!
And that goes for phone, laptop, tablet or desktop.

But have to identified who's in each photo and/or when and where it was taken? Years ago, when my grandmother moved out of her house, we discovered a carton of old photos (the kind that will survive after your phone dies and you forgot to back it up). None had anything written on the back so my my grandmother, aunt and uncle came over to our house one day, we spread the photos on the dining room table and as each of the adults identified someone in a photo my sister and I had the task of writing the name and other details on the back of the photo. I'll be dollars to donuts many people use their phone to take pictures - but never get around to entering the names. I'll remember them, they think. Maybe, maybe not. But the person who inherits your phone may have no idea who's in those photos.

fix my post to say "I'll BET dollars to donuts..."

How timely. Just this week I have been wondering what to do with all those photos (actually I already dumped the ones of the parking lots :)). Any thoughts on how to organize the printed photos from years past?

Android phones can be set to automagically backup to Google Photos. You get a block of free storage and can pay for more space if you need it.

My problem is that Apple stopped supporting my IPhone6. Up until June 30 my photos were saved to the cloud which also is on my MacBook. Since then, I can't figure out how to store them. I don't want to buy a new phone just to do that.

I don't keep photos on my phone. I try to keep the total under 100 at any time. At least once a week or after any deep research at one of my local libraries I upload my photos/videos to my laptop or desktop in the appropriate folders. It saves time in the long run because I don't have to look at thousands of photos manually to find anything. The reason I take photos is to look at someone or something at a later time. And I rename the photos so I know why I took the photos.

And when I have been texted a photo I save that to my gallery to upload to my computer, too.

Every photo taken with the photo is uploaded via wifi to my Dropbox account. From there I move them into labeled folders according to their subject. Periodically, i back the phone's memory card up. It's a removable micro SD card so the phone really does not have the photos anyway, the card does.

I take photos with an iPhone and a digital camera. I absolutely love a mega company’s (with the initials FB) user interface for storing photos in albums including commentary! But I recently left FB for political reasons (censorship). I also store my pictures on my laptop and an external hard drive and the cloud, but I miss the easy peasy commentary which doesn’t seem to be available on any other free or paid software program that would reside on my computer! Please blog a bit deeper on this topic if you have suggestions of software to use that isn’t in the cloud!

You made me laugh! I have taken those airport parking photos, too. There's no way I'd find the car again at IAH if I didn't. :)

Thank you for your great reminder to get those photos off of the phone. I have relatively recently gone through my phone to deal with the photos, but I now have over 2,000 on it again. Most are screenshots of things that I've sent to my oldest daughter as we text. I will get rid of those now.

Plus, there are ultrasound images and photos of our two new grandchildren, one born last week. Those have to stay for those times when I need a smile session. :)

Thanks again. Have a blessed week!

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