Why I’m Throwing Away Photos


What do you do with all those printed photographs you have stored away in boxes and totes in your attic or store room?

I had two large rubbermaid totes and several shoe boxes filled with photo albums and loose photos from Junior High (when I started using a camera) until the digital era began for me around 2004.  I have carted them all over Iowa and down here to Texas.

Do people really sit and look through all those photos often?  If not, which is usually the case, why do we keep ALL of them?

I tell myself, “They are memories.”  But I don’t ever look through them.  They just take up space.  I’ve never really known what to do with all of them and yet I didn’t want to throw them away.  I’m a bit sentimental.  Everything has meaning to me, especially cards and photos.

But after my recent ranting on my Facebook page about having way too much stuff, my friend called me with some encouragement and one suggestion for de-cluttering:  Get rid of old photos!  She said she picked about 30 photos from each event(if she had taken 100), scanned them to her computer, then threw the rest away.  Genius!  I have never thought to do this.  So, I went upstairs and immediately began the paring down process.  And I must admit, it was sort of addicting!  If felt great to clear out space and do something more efficient with these old memories.

Are they all great memories?  Absolutely.  Well, most of them.  Indeed there are some photos that just need to be purged–from my storage space as well as my memory.  But most of what I want to remember can be accomplished with a few photos rather than 100.

So, which photos did I toss?

1. Duplicates.  Back before digital, I think I developed most of my photos with duplicates.  Why?  I’m not sure.  But, one thing is for sure…I don’t need them now.

2. Blurry photos.  No need to explain this one.

3. Photos that have no meaning.  You know the ones… you take a picture of a random giraffe at the zoo.  Really?  What was I thinking?

4.  Multiple photos of the same scene.  I chose a few of the best to remember the moment.  Honestly, you don’t need 20 photos of the same moment.  One or two should suffice.

5. Photos of people I do not remember.  If I can’t remember who they were, why do I need to keep a photo of them.

6. Any old “dates” you happened to have taken photos of.  Yes, I kept my High School dance and Prom date photos.  Mostly because it cracks me up to look back at my hair from the late 80’s and 90’s.  Ha!  Honestly, I actually went through all my photos before I got married and removed all photos of me with other guys/dates and burned them in my friends fireplace.  A little extreme?  Maybe.  But honestly I felt it was important to just let those memories be just that….only memories.  Do I really want my children thumbing through or scanning through my photos someday and see me with a different guy?  I see no purpose other than to be forced to answer some weird questions later.

7.  Any photos you would not want to have to explain to your children someday.  You know which ones I’m talking about!

After my tossing frenzy, these are the remaining photos.  I would say I probably got rid of 1/2 of the photos I had stored.  Next phase…scanning.



I’m determined to pare down my life and to live with less.  I was reading a book last night, Fascinating Womanhood.  And she was talking about simplifying our lives.  Everything in our homes should either be useful or beautiful.  I love that!  So, I’m cleaning out the clutter and keeping what is truly important.

william morris’ golden rule

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

So when you are looking through your old photos, you know the ones that you NEVER look at, reminisce with fond memories, and then I give you permission to say good-bye to the ones that need to go.

A wise friend told me once, “Everything you bring into your home you become a slave to.”

Are you a slave to YOUR stuff?  Start today de-cluttering and simplifying.  Out with the old…and in with the new!

What are your thoughts on throwing old photos away?  Have you ever done this?  

1 thought on “Why I’m Throwing Away Photos

  1. Jean

    I am so proud of you Alissa!! And I love the useful or beautiful question to determine if it should stay in your home. Your blog is truly an inspiration. Keep writing. Everyone needs to “pretend” they are moving every couple years to keep the “stuff” from collecting.


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