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.
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.