1. You take too many.

It’s only natural. It costs you nothing to take a photo and with our camera memory cards and phones offering generous storage, there’s no obvious reason to ease up on the shutter. But you should. Taking tons of photos creates all kinds of problems for you, both short term and long-term. The short term problem is that it makes the essential task of organizing and backing up those photos harder to do — uploads take longer, eating up more mobile data or time at the computer. Over the long term, it becomes harder to find and separate truly meaningful photos from the duds.

Solution: Put the camera down and enjoy the moment (at least once in a while). Even if you have an itchy shutter finger, you can be more diligent about deleting images after-the-fact. Make a habit of reviewing your photos — either on your device or your PC after the fact — and delete the duds. Be merciless. Your future self will thank you.

Three Mistakes You Make with Your Photos

2. You don’t have a plan.

There are no shortages of things to worry about in this world and while your digital photos shouldn’t eat away all of your stomach lining (that’s what kids are for), very few people think about the long-term life of these images. By long-term, we don’t mean next month or next year. We mean 50 years. 100 years even. With print photos, keeping them around for 100 years meant simply avoiding a fire or flood. Today, it’s way more complicated. You’re changing phones. You’re updating computers. Hard drives crash. Cloud services go under. All the while, you’re taking more and more photos on more and more devices, making the process of keeping your collection centralized and safe ever harder.

Solution: We hate to say it but there’s no silver bullet here (we’ll let you know when we find one). There are, however, good practices which we describe in detail in our book, From Fleeting to Forever. The short version: print the photosyou absolutely couldn’t live without while also storing your entire digital photo collection on an external hard drive and cloud service.  Read: 4 Steps to Protecting Your Photos for more details.


3. You share them carelessly.

Social networks like Facebook and messaging apps like SnapChat are easy to sign up for, but hard to understand. By “understand” we don’t mean how to use them, that’s easy enough. By “understand” we mean how these services use your images and how easy it is to control who gets to see what.

SnapChat, for instance, prides itself on quickly deleting all images shared through the app, but several reports have surfaced revealing that these images aren’t deleted and can be accessed by those willing to hack their way in. Facebook, too, uses images in ads and has had its share of horrendous embarrassments.

Solution: Be mindful of what you post online and get to know the privacy settings of the services you’re using. See: Understanding Facebook Photo Privacy Settings for more details.