How to organize your phone photos. It’s really more of a question than a statement for anyone with a smartphone! As a follow-up to my last post on photo organization and printing, this post is dedicated to anyone overwhelmed with the hundreds (thousands!) of photos sitting on their phone. Before I get too far into this post, I want to preface that I am no genius iPhone photographer. There are some incredible phone photographers out there, many of which I admire and follow. When it comes to my iPhone, I’m just like any other busy gal who always has a phone on hand and is always eager to snap a photo of my daily life. The iPhone photos that you’ll see in this post may not be up to professional-photog standards, but each one is a priceless moment caught in time and for that I treasure them.
I use an iPhone 6s that is dirty and dinged-up but serves all of the purposes I need it to. Although there are certainly newer models of the iPhone and really cool photo accessories for them, my experience has only been with my trusty little 6s.
I’ve found that if I don’t stay on top of keeping my iPhone photos organized, this step becomes so overwhelming and time consuming. Since I’m pretty much taking at least a handful of photos on my phone each day, I try to go through them at night and delete anything that I wouldn’t print, share or need to reference later.
Next, about once per month, I’ll go through the past month’s photos and “favorite” the ones that I want to edit by tapping the little heart under each image. Since the iPhone automatically creates a Favorites album, I then go to that album, tap “select all” and import to VSCO, my preferred editing app (more on that in the next step). Once they’ve been imported, I go back to those Favorites and “un-favorite” them by tapping the little heart under each image again. This is important to note for 2 reasons: 1) If you don’t have unlimited storage on your iPhone, these Favorites are technically saved in two places on your phone and take up twice as much space. When you “un-favorite” them, they’re still saved on your camera roll. 2) When you go to “favorite” your next month’s batch of photos, you’ll be able to easily select all to import to your editing app knowing that you’re not duplicating any from the month prior. If you want to take this a step further and aren’t worried about storage limits, you could also create your own Favorite Album for each month as you go along through the year.
And because work, life and laziness can get in the way, I keep a note on my phone of the status of my photos that looks something like this:
There are so many apps out there for editing your phone photos, including the ones built right into Instagram. My personal choice, and the only one I use is VSCO. The interface is intuitive and it allows me to achieve the aesthetic I hope for. At this point, I only use the basic (i.e. free) editing tools but I’m tempted to try some of their predesigned presets and tools. Maybe when I upgrade to a fancy new iPhone 😉 When editing, I usually adjust the exposure and contrast, and sometimes the temperature, saturation and fade levels. I also tend to convert A LOT of my phone photos to black & white. With the limited capabilities of a phone and a basic editing app to capture color and light the way a professional camera does, I find that B&W images tend to look more balanced and engaging.
To be honest, I don’t regularly edit my phone photos. I attempt to do so every couple of months, but the bulk of it happens at the end of the year. Either way, at the end of each year, I save all edited photos in a new album on my iPhone. I do this by tapping “Studio” and then “Edited” in the VSCO app and then (unfortunately) manually tapping each edited photo from that year and choose to “Save To Camera Roll”. This automatically saves the edited photos to a VSCO album on my phone. Two big complaints I have is that VSCO won’t allow me to organize photos by the date they were taken, and that I can’t “select all” from a given time period. It drives me bananas! If anyone has a solution to this, I’d be so grateful!
VSCO app interface | VSCO iPhone album
Before | VSCO Edit Tool | After
Yay! My favorite part of this process, getting these photos off of my phone and into my hands. For my iPhone photos, I use chatbooks to print an annual family book. The app is so easy to use right from my phone and their 6×6 books are a perfect (and affordable!) way to display and share my precious day-to-day memories. I always choose the soft-cover Custom Photo Book option. Through the app, I’m easily able to change the order of my photos, and set other preferences like removing captions and dates or adding a title to the spine (one of my favorite features!). I only have three so far but I envision a future shelf in my home lined with years and years of these volumes. I haven’t tried their other products but they have so many enticing ones! Like their Rifle Paper Co. series, or the option to link your Instagram account directly to the app so that after every 60 posts you share, a book is automatically created with those photos and sent directly to you! Isn’t that genius?
Since I’ve started my chatbooks, Artifact Uprising has released a similar version of books that link directly to your Instagram account and my word, do they look pretty. I’d love to try theirs but I’m so happy with chatbooks and I especially love the consistency of having the same album design every year.
After printing my chatbook, I select a handful of photos and upload them to the Artifact Uprising app on my phone. Through there, I order square prints which I rotate on display all throughout our house. Lastly, I use FoxPrint’s adorable 3×3 prints for parties, gift tags and other crafts.
Chatbooks Custom Book | Artifact Uprising Square Prints
FoxPrint 3×3 Square Print (in a Hearth & Hand ornament frame)
Even if you have unlimited storage on your phone, I think it makes so much sense to backup and delete old photos from your actual device. I’m one of those people who can’t fall asleep in a messy room and can’t relax if an area of my life is cluttered and unorganized. So clearing old photos from my iPhone is cathartic and necessary! And don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you delete your photos from existence, that would be cruel! Instead, I’ll share with you how I manage old photos that are just taking up too much space.
After everything has been edited and printed, I upload all of that year’s photos to Amazon Prime Photos via their app on my phone. As a Prime member, I have unlimited photo storage. Unlimited! Once everything is safely uploaded to Prime, I delete the photos from my phone. And that step feels sooo good. And since the app is right on my phone, I can quickly and easily find old photos that I’m looking for. Note, Prime Photos doesn’t allow for unlimited storage of videos, so I save all of my iPhone videos to a personal Hard Drive and then delete them from my phone as well.
And like my last post, I’m not going to end this one without sharing some favorite iPhone photos that grace the 250 pages of my 2017 Chatbook!