I Am A Photo Hoarder

When it comes to tangible things, I am by no means a hoarder. I cleanse my closet often, donating everything that no longer does it for me; I get rid of tickets, wristbands, and everything else that many people like to keep to remind them of fun times. In my mind, I have the memories of these objects and events, and that’s all I really need! But when it comes to digital photos, I just can’t seem to let go. I’ve only really started taking photos within the past two years (which is insane for me to think about), but since then I have acquired thousands upon thousands upon thousands.

Photographs on floor

I love taking photos. I love capturing moments of beauty and fun in everyday life. I love that a photo allows me to keep these moments with me forever. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The problem with being a photo hoarder, though, is that it clogs my mind. All of these photos I’ve taken are saved on different memory cards and hard drives and computers… and it’s not that I have a few photos from different excursions I’ve been on. I have a million photos from every minute of every excursion. It’s like I never want to miss a photo opp – and then when I’m onto something, I shoot 139487 photos of it to try to get the perfect shot – and then I never want to delete any of those shots just in case I just so happen to need one of them one day.

And for what? Sometimes I want to say to myself, “You just took 87 pictures of an apple, Brigette. Save one, if you absolutely must. But when will ever be a time in your life when you need all 87 photos of that apple?” Actually, sometimes I do say things like that to myself, and my answer back to myself is usually, “I don’t know. I just might need them one day!”

 Photo Screenshot

(Above: 21 photos of the same Costa Rican sunset on my external hard drive.)

I probably sound like I’m insane right now, but my hope is that I’m not the only one out there. My head spins when I think about the disorganization of all of the digital photos I own. It’s an absolute mess, and I feel like I need to go on a photo-purging spree just to bring some clarity to my mind.

So, how do we fix this issue? Something needs to be done. I’ve come up with a little plan, and it’s definitely going to take some time, but I’m going to do it. The plan has 3 steps.

Step 1: Cleanse

I am going to go through every single device that houses my photos: cell phone, laptop, desktop, memory cards, and external hard drives. I have a 3 TB external hard drive, and this is where all of my photos will go. I am going to make general folders, and then more specific folders within them.  My general folders will probably be something like nature/people/events/trips, or something along those lines, and then specific excursions will go within each one. After making these folders, I’ll go through each of my photos and delete photos that are not necessary. If I have 27 photos of the same thing, I’ll keep 1-3. That’s reasonable. This cleanse is going to take a long time, but it has to be done. I will do it!

Step 2: Print

This is the fun part! While I’m cleansing, I will also make a folder with my favorite photos. I’ll get these printed at a photo print place, and then they’ll be tangible! I know this means I’ll now have more photos than I did before, since they’ll now be printed out, but tangible photos are lovely to me. They don’t hurt my mind like my mess of digital photos does. There are also some really cool services that’ll print your Instagram photos for you, like Printstagram!

Step 3: Maintain

Once I’m organized, it’ll be easy to maintain this system! Every time I take photos, I’ll keep only the ones I need, and immediately transfer them to their necessary folder. Easy! Done!


Who’s with me? Will you do a digital photo cleanse? If you have any other ideas to help out photo hoarders like myself, leave a comment! I may have already devised a plan, but I need all the help I can get!

More inspiration from BLDG 25.


  1. I am a photo hoarder too!! but recently I went through and deleted a bunch of unnecessary pictures, because much like you, I take a million pics of one thing to get the right one and then I can’t let them go because I “might'” want them later..I went from 500 pics on my iphone to only about 150 or so..after that I put them into folders for easier access….now I need to do this to old phones I have kept around simply because of the photos they possess…and I really want to print some instagram photos,(I currently have 1,305) not too many, but I would like to have some physical copies..lol

  2. I am the exact same way! But I also am trying to shoot more on my old 35mm these days. I find shooting film is a great exercise in being choosier about the photos I take so I don’t end up with a zillion duplicates. (That said, I still go totally nuts on my dslr sometimes…)

  3. i want/need/must have/will not survive if i do not get the complete outfit you are wearing!!!! this is like my style in a photograph <3 <3 <3 <3 *swoon*

  4. I am definitely the same way, except I use my film cameras a bit more than my digital. Photography is my passion and I could never let my photographs go!

    And I concur, Summer! Thanks for posting, Brigette.


  5. yes, this must be done with my photos, too. my laptop is becoming a mess. so i will do it!!! someday..

  6. “Less is more” applies to every area of life. It gets easier each time you remove some of the clutter, whether physical or digital.

    The less you keep, the more you can enjoy those things with your full attention.


  7. Over the years, I’ve amassed probably 30,000 digital photos from the X number of cameras I’ve owned. My iPhone is cluttered with photos, but surprisingly, my Instagram feed is not. Goes to show that I’m not willing to actually edit them, but I do not want to let them go!

  8. I’m a photo hoarder too! I have over 6000 photos since August last year alone! I use bridge (an adobe program) to organise my photos into years and then into events or subject matter. I then add tags to them so if i want to find all of my photos of flowers I simply search for flowers. Mind you it takes a fair bit of time and organisation to sort them in the first place!

  9. This is so true. For my personal photos I have begun a biiiiig project. And put all of my pictures off and online form 25 years into one place. I used iPhoto, created events – if possible – if not I arranged it by places. And then I went through them and picked the 2.400 best. Just to let you know, it was about 15.000 pictures in there. The whole process took me several weeks and night shifts and I was wasted! Truly wasted! after every session. But in the hand I ordered a chronological photo book at milkbooks.com and I am amazed by the result. It is awesome to have your best moments in hand without being confused how many pictures you have. Next step for me was to backup all that and then delete everything from my computer. Just in case I panic, I can bring back all those pictures, but in case I can let go I have the best moments of my life in hand – I can touch, give around and let even my granny and other people confused by modern technology see them in a nice format. I really like the haptic and the fact that it is some kind of art – a result you can touch.

  10. btw i love the prinstagram idea – haptics it is. there is nothing better than holding memories and beautiful sights in hand.

    for my professional stuff i rely on a date based system, not nice and creative, but necessary to sort out client stuff. and what i really like goes online right away.


  11. Before the days of Pinterest, I crashed my computer with inspiration photos. That’s when I realized I needed to be a designer. Still working on that one. Now I have 6000 photos from 6 months of travelling last year. And I haven’t uploaded a single one. Ha!

  12. how do you get that effect on the camera for the step by step instructions? not the sunset ones :P they’re so pretty

  13. I do the same thing! A cleanse is EXACTLY what I need to do. I always think “I’ll need one of these someday…maybe.” So, I never have the heart to delete 20 photos of a sunset. I went to Santa Monica Beach sometime last year and took probably 10-15 photos of the pier….from roughly the same area. Why can’t I just delete the ones I don’t like as much? It is nice to know I’m not the only one like this.

  14. Wait.. you said you donate your clothes.. How about switching up your charity and donating them to ya gurl?? aka me.. :) I can even send you pictures of how I style your old clothes, and you can hoard those photos?! Win win situation. Ha! xx, Blakelee

  15. Hi Brigette!! I am super interested in getting a good quality camera, and I was wondering what you use or recommend!

  16. Everything you have said rings true. It is MY LIFE…but being lived somewhere else.
    I’m madly in love with my photos and have a hard time sorting out and destroying even some of the most ridiculously AWFUL ones. always think I’lll do ‘something special’ in the editing process. I would have to live to be 300 yers old to even begin to make that happen. 93,000 images on the laptop alone (no doubt about to crash!) and probably 200,000 on external HD’s. I can find most things that I need and the file systems are fairly well organized. It’s just the sheer volume which scares me.
    ANY IDEAS FOR WHAT TO DO NEXT and how to wrestle this obsession from my brain?
    bev jackson

  17. I am obsessed with saving photos off the internet. I have 41,000 photos saved onto my macbook. I get a new style concept in my head so I will relentlessly search for key words and save the photos that match my vision just so I can have an archive of reference photos for inspiration. Then I get another burst of inspiration and move on to making more folders. It is overwhelming but I love the feeling of finding the perfect photo. Maybe someone will read this and find they are not alone.

  18. Oh I’m so relieved that I’m not alone.
    I used to delete pictures more often, but it’s really scary how much pictures I hoard.
    I have a 16 gb memory card just for pictures, an online account that currently has 8 gb of pictures and videos, my iPhone has 8,000 pictures, and several other memory cards (4gb, 2gb, 8gb, and another 4gb) all full with pictures.
    The thing is, even when I do this cleanse, I know that the pictures will still mount up!
    I just wish I was like others who go years and the most pictures they would’ve taken would be 200 at the most!

  19. My dear friend Hannah is also like you young girls who have a problem. She needs help in deleting photos so she can come to terms of what is truly important, that is updating her phone so we can use emojis to flip each other off. But her probablem has delayed this from happening, please help her.

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