Every couple of months, I get a notification from Apple: “Your iCloud storage is almost full.” When I first started getting the email, it inspired me to go through my Apple photos and cull the blurry, mediocre, meaningless, and unnecessary shots, like the pictures of the grocery list on the kitchen chalkboard.
After 5 minutes, I’d get bored and give up. I opted to pay $0.99 per month for extra storage instead.
That bump in storage relieved me of emails from Apple for a good while. But recently, I started getting them again. And again, I made half-hearted attempts to go through my Apple photos. I’d try to narrow the ten shots of a monarch butterfly down to one or two, the seven shots of the daisy down to the one best shot. My photo library goes back to 2013, though, and if I’m lucky, I might make it through the past six months before saying, okay, that’s good enough.
My digital backlog is starting to weigh on me the same way clutter in my house or office does. There’s a bunch of unused junk in there, taking up space on servers, creating messy piles of crap photos that make it hard for me to find the good shots I actually care about. I want to keep what’s beautiful, useful, and meaningful, and I want to pitch the rest.
The task is overwhelming though. How am I ever going to get through eight years of phone photos, often with multiple shots of the same thing that require me to look closely before choosing which ones to delete? And photos from my phone are only half of what’s on my iCloud drive. Photos from my real camera are in there too. Large files. Thousands of them, often with twenty pictures of the same thing instead of just five or ten.
I’m going to try to tackle this in the same way I trained for triathlons or approach big tasks at work: break it into small, achievable pieces, and focus only on finishing the portion I’m working on rather than the whole thing all at once. For my first attempt, not really knowing what I’m getting into at all, so really winging it here, I’m going to aim to clean up one year of files per month. So maybe by June of 2022 I’ll be able to click into any year in my photographs and find the year, beautifully curated, photos labeled, zero clutter. That sounds dreamy.