I know we’re lucky to live in the digital age. Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways. But sometimes, it feels like both a blessing and a curse!

We can document nearly every aspect of our lives using a little hand-held computer, but the amount of digital clutter we create leaves us feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

I recently took on the project of decluttering my digital photos. I had amassed a collection of nearly 62,000 of them over the past five years and wanted to be thoughtful about how I chose to approach the process.

Previously, circa 2016, I had reached a similar breaking point. I had 80,000+ photos on my phone, and in a moment of “storage full”-induced frustration, had taken them all offline and plopped them onto a hard drive. Over the years, I’ve regretted that decision. Not only because I now had years of precious memories loaded onto a physical piece of equipment that I then had to be sure not to lose or damage — but also because I lost the convenience of being able to search, access, or share those photos from anywhere…at any time. There’s also the fact that external hard drives have a lifespan of 3-5 years. The risk of digital decay increases each year after that. This means you need to transfer your files to a new hard drive regularly if you remove your photos from cloud storage (a time-consuming, technical, and somewhat expensive venture!).

This time I wanted to take a different approach and learn everything I could about iPhone photo storage, how it works, and how to make the process as efficient as possible. I started by asking myself these three questions:

  1. How many photos are currently on my device?
  2. How much “digital clutter” do I have, and how much can I reduce my collection?
  3. How many photos can I add per year and still afford to maintain it long-term?

Question one was simple. I went to my iPhone, opened my Photo Album app, and looked at the number listed below the album titled “Recents”. This told me that I currently had a total of 61,944 images. Woof!

Question two was a bit more abstract. Working as a social media strategist + content creator meant my phone was full of downloaded graphics, screenshots, talking-head content I’d never need again, and a lot of duplicate shots. I knew my phone had a significant amount of “digital clutter” that I didn’t need to store, and I estimated that I could decrease my collection by 70-80%. So my target was a remaining collection of 18,000 photos or less.

Question three required that I learn all about cloud storage pricing and how many photos could be stored in each pricing tier. So, I did! For iCloud’s current pricing, it looks like this:

But I realized that I couldn’t really answer Question #3 without knowing how much it would cost me to rely on cloud-based storage annually for the rest of my life. To figure that out, I took to Google Sheets and created a spreadsheet that would help me extrapolate that data. Behold! ☁The Cloud Calculator!

This tool allowed me to play around with my answers to all three of those questions and find a range that worked for my life and budget. It even shows me how Google One’s cloud storage pricing compares, in case I’m tempted to switch. This tool was really helpful to this process and made me feel more confident in the choices I made as I began to curate and organize my collection. If you want to try it, you can click below to make a copy in your Google Drive or download it for Excel.



Once you have answers to those three questions, you’re ready to start decluttering your photos. But that can feel like an overwhelming and time-consuming task. And it can be! Especially if you have thousands of photos buried amid clutter.

I once again dove into learning mode to discover the most efficient ways to navigate, sort, filter, and remove photos from your iPhone carefully but quickly! I was able to reduce my collection from nearly 62,000 to 8,500 photos and most importantly, I’ve developed systems to ensure it stays that way.

I’d LOVE to walk you through the process from start to finish. Check out my self-paced online course, Digital Photo Cleanup. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about creating a thoughtful, intentional, and organized photo collection.

How to Declutter Your Digital Photos

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