I’ve known for awhile that the day of reckoning would come for my digital photos, and it finally happened. Flickr, the longtime photo storage service, announced this week that they were snatching back the “1 terabyte of space free forever” they gave us years ago. I have about 3,000 photos on Flickr, and a lot of them are important to me. Flickr was the first place I started storing photos online.

I think they’re mean for doing that, and it’s clearly time to bail. I have to move those 3,000 photos somewhere.

Choosing a long-term paid photo storage service

Meanwhile, I’ve also been using the free 5 GB that iCloud allows. It’s been great having every photo uploaded almost immediately, so it was easy to just keeping using it. But soon enough I’ll go over that 5 GB and have to start paying them, and they’re not the service I want to pay.

I want all my photos in one good solid cloud-storage service, and I’m willing to pay for it. I’m not willing to pay a lot, so I did a little shopping.

As of November 2018:
Apple iCloud is $1/month/50 GB ($12/year/50 GB)
Google One* is $2/month/100 GB ($24/year/100 GB)
Microsoft OneDrive is $2/month/100 GB ($24/year/100GB)
Amazon Photos is $12/year/100 GB

Google Photos also offers the free/unlimited/reduced file size backup deal, which I use, but since the photos are reduced in file size, it’s not an actual photo storage solution.

Just FYI: Google One is a new thing. To clarify: “Google Drive is a storage service. Google One is a subscription plan that gives you more storage to use across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Plus, with Google One, you get extra benefits and can share your membership with your family. How you use Google Drive doesn’t change, so you don’t have to worry about losing or transferring anything.”

Amazon Photos is the clear winner price-wise, at least at this time. The services they offer (albums, photo sharing, automatic upload apps, all that stuff) are as good as any of the rest. So they’re the winner for me.

I don’t maintain an ongoing Amazon Prime subscription, at least not yet — but if you do, Amazon Photos is included.

Dealing with Videos

Videos take up much more file space than photos, of course. For some people, it may be necessary to have enough space to store lots of videos, but I have only random personal videos which are not all that amazing, so I decided instead to store them all for free on a YouTube account. I’m not going to keep any videos in Amazon Photos. But if I ever take some good or important videos, I’ll re-consider this.

Deleting lots of photos

This step could be skipped, but if not now, when? When am I ever going to get rid of the hundreds of useless photos? If I don’t, I’ll be paying to store them for years.

There’s another really good reason to have a Delete-a-Thon: the good photos which are left will get a lot more attention if they’re not surrounded by piles of uninteresting ones.

This is time-consuming, but it’s kind of fun, at least in small amounts. I try to go through about 200 photos in a session, deleting anything that not even I care much about. The world will still have a record of what beautiful landscapes look like, even without my thousands of landscape photos. I tend to think my photos are pretty awesome, but when I spend some time on Unsplash I realize how pedestrian mine are.

I’m still in the middle of the Delete-a-Rama phase, and it may take some weeks, but I’m determined — because I really love the good photos.

Setting up so that any new photos are uploaded to my new storage space

At this point, I set up the Amazon Photos app on my phone so that all new photos are getting stored where they belong, now and going forward.

Moving everything to my chosen cloud photo storage

First, iCloud, and it was easy. The Amazon Photos app sucked up all of those photos to itself in one process, and it only took a few minutes.

I haven’t yet, but should, stop iCloud from uploading new photos to itself, because I don’t need it to anymore. I will, I promise.

At first I thought that downloading everything from Flickr would have to be done album-by-album and would take hours, but I just found this info in Flickr Help: “If you’d like to download all of your photos, including all of your data, go to your Flickr account settings and select Request My Flickr Data on the bottom right of the page.” Woo hoo!

Once I have all the Flickr photos downloaded to my hard drive, I’ll upload them to Amazon Photos, and shut down the Flickr account.

Organizing the new collection

Last but not least, it’s important to me to learn how I can best organize photos on Amazon so that I can find specific ones, and browse them in ways that make sense. This may take some time too, but all the rest is kind of a waste of time without it. Amazon probably has some nifty features, and I’ll learn ’em. and use ’em.

Yup, this is a lot of work

I wish this wasn’t so exhausting a process, but it seems the evolution of personal photography has swept us up in its dazzling tidal wave and dumped us here where we’re going to have to exert some effort. It won’t kill us.