How many digital photos have you taken? 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? Instead of leaving all those photos sitting on your smartphone or a hard drive, why not do something with them?
Wander around any city, and you’ll see hundreds of people all with their phones out taking photos. Some of those pictures might end up on Facebook or Instagram, but for the most part, they sit forgotten an unappreciated in digital limbo. That’s a real shame. Photos are a great way to remember people, places, and events—plus, the pictures your smartphone takes are really good now.
The great news is there are lots of cool things you can do with your digital photos. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
Sort Through Them
I’ve shot thousands of photos with both my smartphone and dedicated camera. Most of them are terrible. Blurry selfies, missed photos, screenshots of memes, and God-only-knows-whats. They don’t deserve to be ignored—they deserve to be deleted, and have whatever hard drive they were on smashed to dirt. Buried in there, however, are some outstanding photos. The kind of thing I want to keep forever. As long as the good and bad all stay mingled together, I’m never going to see the good photos. I’m sure it’s the same for you.
Now, the bad news. There is no easy way to sort photos. The only real way to do is to sit down, throw on your favorite TV show, and go through, deleting all the bad pictures, sorting the others into albums, and favoriting the absolute best.
But, you’re probably not going to do this. Almost everyone (myself included) is at the point where they’ve shot way too many digital photos for this to be a realistic option. That means we need to use some less thorough strategies to get the good photos out:
- Go through your Facebook and Instagram accounts. If there are any photos you really like there, go through your phone and pull out the original. Also, use it as a springboard to remind yourself of events or places you loved, and go back and find photos from them too.
- Use your photo app. Both the iPhone Photos app and Google Photos (available on both iOS and Android) will show you photos from past events, organize photos by location and event, and more. While they’re made with machine learning, they will pull out some useful suggestions—like that vacation you took to the Florida Keys.
- Get into a habit of, when you remember something fun, taking five minutes to go back through your photos and grab the photos out. It will take time, but you’ll gradually sort through chunks of your photos.
- If you have an iPhone, you can use Gemini ($2.99/month) to clear out loads of the bad photos, which will make finding the good images a lot easier.
Print Them Out
My granny’s house was covered in photos. She had four children and 14 grandchildren (plus a pile of siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who made the cut) and each of us was featured at least four or five times. The favorites would have an entire mini-shrine dedicated to their achievements. Most of the photos were pretty terrible but, because they were the ones she had, they were the ones on display.
Now, most people have hundreds of much better photos, but because they’re not printed out, nobody sees them. The single best thing you can do with your digital photos is print them.
You could print a few dozen pictures you love as 4×6″s and put them in photo frames around your house, just like my granny. Or, you could get one or two of your best made into 36×24” framed prints or canvases that dominate a wall—digital photos, even ones from a smartphone, can be printed pretty damn big if you work from the original. Really, the options are limitless. You could also make a photo album. Just be sure to check out our guide to why photos don’t look the same when you print them on How-To Geek to make sure you’re doing it right.