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Photos and Fumbles – What Do You Do with Your Thousands of Photos?

By Cynthia Hogg May 02, 2023 Lifestyle

I have 10 grandchildren and love to have adventures with them, everything from road trips to summer “Cousins’ Camps.” And I always try to document these adventures with lots of photos.

Technology Has Evolved

Today, the technology available for still and video photography is just phenomenal. What the average non-techy person (like me!) can capture and do with a smart phone is nothing short of miraculous.

Many years ago, I started with a little Brownie camera and a black and white roll of film. When our children were little, my husband lugged around a large video camera that sat on his shoulder. I am now using an iPhone Pro Max 11 that takes stunning still photographs, as well as videos. And it fits in the palm of my hand!

But there are a few caveats that come with the blessing of this new technology.

Producing Tons of Photos Isn’t Fun

The first one is, I have so many photos on my phone! And most of them stay there and are never seen. In the “old days” I used to plan my photos more carefully. Now I just click away and tell myself I’ll go back and delete all but the very best. Except I don’t. I would be too embarrassed to confess how many photos I currently have on my phone!

Creating Photobooks

One good thing I have done is put the best photos from each year into photobooks that each grandchild receives at Christmas time. (But I still never go back and delete the other photos!) The kids seem to really love these. Every year they look forward to the next book. Even though the books are a lot of work to put together, I believe my grandkids will appreciate them even more when they’re older.

Here’s some helpful advice I can share from putting together these photobooks:

Make Sure You Be Part of Some of the Pictures

In some of my first photobooks, I realized that someone important was missing: me! Because I was always the one behind the camera, it appeared that I was never part of the activities. Years from now, I want my grandkids to look at these pictures and see me as part of the fun. This might mean (carefully) handing the phone to an older grandchild or even a trustworthy-looking stranger for a quick shot.

Get at Least One Group Shot!

While I love all the individual photos, there’s just something special about capturing a group shot. My 10 grandkids always seem to be in motion, so it takes effort to get them stopped and into a group for a photo – but it’s always worth it!

Fair Share of Photos

Try to have fairly “equitable” representation when you put together the final photobook. This can be a challenge sometimes because some children are “hams” who hog the spotlight or are more naturally photogenic than others. Some are more skilled at certain activities than others. Be careful to include winning photos of each grandchild. Believe me, each child will be looking to see how well represented they are in the final product!

Don’t Miss Out on the Fun!

A final caveat to all this wonderful technology is more subtle, but I’ve begun to feel it keenly. I don’t want the photography to intrude on enjoying the time I’m spending with my grandkids. To be honest, I’m struggling some in finding the right balance.

I used to be annoyed with a daughter who was constantly “posing” her kids for photos during every activity (plus taking lots of selfies!), but now I have to look at my own behavior. I want the photos, and I want enough photos to “tell the story.” But I can tell when the kids are starting to get annoyed with my saying, “Wait a moment – I want to get a picture” or “Stand over here for a picture.”

In addition to sighing and acting annoyed, they invariably respond by saying “cheese” – along with a cheesy smile.

I have tried being less obvious and obtrusive in my photo-taking, hoping to get those candid shots, but on the last trip with my seven-year-old granddaughter (a hiking, biking, and beach trip), I was still aware that often when she turned around to tell me something interesting, I was holding up my phone.

I explained that I was taking pictures to make a book for her similar to one I’d made for her sister that she liked. It seemed to help a little, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I was, if not “ruining” the moment, somehow compromising it. I tried to ease my conscience by thinking of how much she will appreciate the photos in years to come.

I did get some beautiful photos, so… was it worth it?

What I don’t want is when someone says, “Do you remember your grandma?” after I’m gone, my grandkids respond with, “Yeah, but I can’t quite remember what she looked like because she always had a phone in front of her face!”

Let’s Have a Conversation:

So, are you like me? Do you have thousands of photos? Do you print them out or put them in books or share them in some other way – or do they mostly sit on your phone? Do you feel that maybe you take too many photos, and it becomes intrusive? How do you try to strike the right balance?

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Celia Kenney

I am just like you and can I say that I did the same thing by making photo books for them & having a gift they like. I was also given a NixPlay photo frame by my children one Christmas. Best gift ever for me because now I get a slideshow of my photos every time I walk into my living room. The kids like seeing it too when they come visit. I do spend some time doing the “clean up” nut not so often that it consumes me. Flash drives have been my go to as well. My icloud holds all of pictures for second safe keeping too.

Cynthia Hogg

I have seen those NixPlay photo frames. You have given me a good idea! My birthday is Friday and my husband keeps asking what I want. I think I know what to tell him now! :-)


Hi Cynthia it could have been myself writing of the article because everything you said resonated with me so much.
I have five grandchildren and we try and take a family holiday every year and I am so aware of my children and grandchildren looking at me thinking oh no not another photograph!.. but as you say those memories are precious.

I also do photo books at the end of the year and then I remember the looks on their faces when they see them. I’m not quite sure what the answer is but I do make a conscious effort every day to go back to my photos and delete the ones that are not good enough:)

So good to hear of somebody else who has those nagging feelings. I try and take each one with mindfulness and love.


When I use to have that hypothetical question of what I would take in case of a house fire, I would grab the photo albums!!! BUT after 40 years of marriage and four children, there is absolutely no way that is ever possible!! I do have flash drives and USBs, etc. But I still packed up 10 medium boxes of photo albums!! This project of giving away photos and reducing them will need some “steel will power” to do so.


Hi! I do have thousands of photos on my phone! I am always trying to figure out how I can organize them to make photo books. I also have a closet full of photos from when my kids were growing up. I want to organize those as well but the task is daunting. I open the closet and then I close it again. We were a military family so I think I could first organize them as to where we lived but again, I get overwhelmed and then I don’t do it. I need to choose a starting point.


i am so like you! More old photo albums than you can imagine…up until I started using my phone as my camera. I’ve bought the photo boxes. I created my own dividers to fit. Yet when I look at those albums now stashed around the house it’s so overwhelming I can’t get myself to get started. PLUS – I have years of photos from my phone that really do need developed. This was always to be my “retirement” project. lol I have went thru some photos and I’m sending them to others that are pictured. (Especially well loved by my God-Daughter since she has NO pictures of herself when she was growing up!),

Here’s to us all. May we let go of the guilt. May we find enough joy as we look thru our older pics that we have fun with this project!

Janet Williamson

I have lots of photos on my phone also but how do I make a photo book?

Cynthia Hogg

I have had a lot of success using Shutterfly: You upload your photos and you can either have them make a book (I have never tried this) or you can use one of their templates to design and make your own. They are always running special deals. There are other companies out there. The only company I would avoid is Printerpix. I had a very bad experience with them, lost money – and they don’t store your photos for later use. I know people who have also had good success using Snapfish.

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The Author

Cynthia Hogg is a freelance writer in western Michigan who contributes regularly to Sixty and Me and Senior Perspectives magazine. She loves to travel and spend time with her grandchildren, especially combining the two. She is the editor of the newly updated blog

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