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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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Marcia R Corenman

I have not yet been blessed with grandchildren but I recently digitized 20 years of family photos of my two children growing up. It took about a week to go through the photos and choose only those that were in focus, weren’t a duplicate or had people we no longer knew in it. I got it down to 1500. I gave each child a USB stick drive that came in a beautiful wooden case from the company that digitized them. ( I threw out all the photos and all the albums. I have every photo that’s important to me but I prefer the ‘movies’ in my head created by being truly present.

As others have suggested, the coolest solution is to have your photos on a digital frame that takes up a small space, can be easily updated and because it’s playing constantly, you get to review precious moments more easily than digging out an old album.

Moving forward, I have begun to take fewer photos. I am paying more attention to the things that are truly exceptional or memorable. I have many thousands of photos. I have organized them online (Apple Photo but Google, Amazon, Dropbox all have good photo storage options) I have an album for each year/by event/by date. Each major trip has it’s own album. Now I can easily find the photos I want to look at again and I can give access to others to look through the albums online.

My next step is to run albums of my favorite photos on my large screen TV as the focal point of my Livingroom. I will be able to see them change continuously whenever the TV is on. That way I won’t ‘forget’ where I’ve been and what I’ve celebrated with friends and family. I prefer to change the images frequently. In the past when I’ve framed photos they sit there forever and never change, and I get more and more! I recently got rid of about 50 frames of various sizes when I right sized my home. I feel so much better not having all that sitting on shelves collecting dust.

I know this post is long but I trust you’ll find a few ideas worth considering.

Teresita Abad

Hi everyone! I am an active member of this beautiful, informational and loving Sixty + Me Community. I always look forward to every article that comes to my inbox. Honestly, I love being a member not just for fun but for everything that it is offering. And most of all because it is a very caring community and I feel that I really belong.
I hope everyone stays happy and lives life to its fullness.


I am also new to sixty and me and look forward to reading the interesting articles each day. This on in particular hits home with me. I have bins of family photos that need to be organized and shared but it’s overwhelming. Hopefully these ideas will jump start my photo project! Thanks so much ladies!


We are just starting to go through the piles of pictures and scan them.
I wish now that I had been less critical of my physical appearance in the past, and had allowed more photos with my relatives and dear friends.

Jeanne Quinn

Boy, you nailed this one…I’ve 40 albums of my 5 kids and the albums take up a lot of space and are way heavy…have decided it’s time to let the kids and grands take what they want as I can’t keep lugging all these albums with me wherever I go…

Letitia Suk

I have found the easiest way to delete phone photos is one day at a time. Each day, pull up the current month and day on your phone i.e. May 3. Then all the photos you ever took on that day will pop up and you can choose what to keep/delete. Works with google photos as well too. Never too overwhelming!

Cynthia Hogg

Thank you, Letitia! This is a great idea! If I use this technique, I can chip away at the task without it being too overwhelming.

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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