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Creative Uses for Extra Photographs

Tons of ideas for using those treasured and not-so-good pictures that you can't bear to throw out.

Tons of ideas for using those treasured and not-so-good pictures that you can't bear to throw out.

What do you do when you have enough photos to fill a landfill?

So many people enjoy taking photographs that I would venture to guess that photography is probably in the top 10 list of hobbies. In fact, many people like taking photos so much that they may not even think of it as a hobby, and simply a way of life for them. Even the ones who take pictures sporadically tend to take a lot of them, especially since digital photos are free and memory cards are cheap. Once all these pictures are taken, though, we have to figure out what to do with them.

Extra Photos

In our family, we have many boxes of photos we have printed from back when photos couldn't be seen until they were printed. In our area, many photo developing places had buy one get one free deals, so we wound up with duplicates. We need to find a way to use these pictures. We have been scanning our pictures so they will be available in digital format, but that leaves a lot of pictures hanging around needing to be used.

Digital Photos

Once we got digital cameras, we took even more pictures, one from every angle and lighting situation imaginable. We have printed a lot of them, but most of them sit in the computer, waiting for the opportunity to be appreciated and enjoyed.


So what do we do with all these photos - digital and physical? There are a large number of ways you can enjoy them. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you to use your photos and enjoy them. Since either format can easily be converted to the other, this article will include ideas for both formats.

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Decoupage is one way you can use your extra photographs.  There are many more!

Decoupage is one way you can use your extra photographs. There are many more!

Decoupage

When we were young, we had art projects where we cut out pictures from magazines and glued them on something like a pencil holder or a box.

Now that you are older, you will hopefully have better dexterity and be able to make an item that is neat. You probably have learned more about what is beautiful to you, and can make something that suits your baste instead of your teacher's. We can use more valuable things like photographs.

Simply cut out the parts of the photo you want. When you are ready, spread some Mod-Podge on your item, put the photos on, and cover with another layer of Mod-Podge.

Alternatively, you can use a software program that can create collages. Order a large poster print to display on your wall.

Scrapbook Software

There are many software programs that let you make collages as well as scrapbooks, and photo albums. I haven't tried it, but CollageIt is highly recommended. With these types of programs, you can leave your original intact, and be able to use the same photo over and over again in different ways if you want. You can try out different layouts, combinations, backgrounds, words, and accessories to really stretch your creativity and maximize the use out of a single photo. You can also use a lot of photos in a single project.

Photo Editing Software

If you've been neglecting a particular photo because it has a minor flaw, you may be able to use a photo editing software and making it better. When you fix the lighting, crop it, and /or change the color cast, you will like the picture better and will be more likely to use it.

You can even edit pictures you do like and try out the different artistic features of the software.

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Photo Developing Company

When you send your photos to a photo company such as Snapfish, don't limit yourself to simply getting them printed. You can get them in a variety of formats, like the calendar shown above. They also have posters, mugs, blankets, key chains, note cards, greeting cards, and a lot of other ideas for how you can maximize the potential of your pictures.

One of my favorite ideas is to create a photo book with your photos. You can simply make it a photo book, but I like to add words to tell the story of my favorite trip, a biography of a person, or the story of the family. There are so many ways you can customize the book, and it isn't as expensive as you might think, especially if you wait until the company is offering a promotion.

Mixed-Media

There are a lot of mixed media projects that use photographs. You can print your photos on fabric using an ink jet printer by simply stabilizing your plain fabric onto freezer paper. Press to set the dye and you can use it like any other fabric. If you prefer, you can use the pictures even when they are printed on photo paper. They can be made into artwork, note cards, quilts, or anything else you can imagine.

A wall display is one way to use your extra photographs.

A wall display is one way to use your extra photographs.

Wall Displays

Have you collected a lot of photos from a family photo exchange? You can frame individual portraits and arrange them in a in a family tree If you don't like the tree idea, you can choose a different shape, such as a heart or a car.

I have found that enlarging a photo sometimes turns it from a snapshot to a work of art, provided that the image quality is good. Consider taking a photo and enlarging it to a 16x20 or bigger poster. A mat and a frame will help turn it to a work of art. Sometimes the packaging really does matter.

Signs and Banners

Photos can be used for a bonding experience with students, coworkers or community groups. They can create signs and banners to publicize their organization or event, show people the directions to a particular location, schedules, and many other reasons.

Imagine a big birthday banner showing a person growing older year by year, or a tribute showing the many ways a person has helped the community.

This photo was used as a submission to PostSecret.

This photo was used as a submission to PostSecret.

Post Cards

Photos can easily be turned into note cards or postcards. You can simply write the word PostCard on the back and use a postcard stamp. Add the address and a message, and it is ready to send. The postcard is personalized and you don't have to go searching at the store for the right image. Once you have created a perfect postcard, simply mail it. It is a great way to keep in touch with people you don't see often. If you can't think of anyone, you can even consider sending one to Postsecret.

Mosaic

You can put all your photos together into a photo mosaic using your scrapbooking software. Free sites such as EasyMoza let you create the mosaics and print or download them for your use.

Throw Them Away

It is entirely possible and permissible to throw away your extra photos. If you can't use them, can't find a friend or relative who wants them, and don't want to give them away to a school or church to use as a crafts project, then there is no need to keep the photos out of guilt. It is okay to throw them away.

Share Online

You can share your photographs online on Facebook or a photo sharing site like Flickr. If you select settings that allow others to use them, they may even wind up in articles like this one. You can also sell them at places like Photostock or Shutterstock.

Bulletin Board

You can pin them on a bulletin board, and change them with the seasons or whenever the mood strikes you.

Don't hide your precious photos in photo albums. Try these creative uses for your extra photos.

Don't hide your precious photos in photo albums. Try these creative uses for your extra photos.

Use Up Those Extra Photos!

You can also use up extra photographs by cutting them up. When you cut them up, you can use them as you would magazine cuttings.

Here are a couple of ways we have used cut up photographs:

  • We found a pin on Pinterest that gave us an idea of using playing cards to list 52 things I love about you. There are a lot of people who have made these cards and will give you ideas about the list and different ways to personalize the project. Photographs are too big, but we could cut up and glue just parts of them to help personalize the cards. This helps you use pictures with problems - if the head is cut off, it is no problem when you are talking about the shoulders.
  • When my daughter was younger, I folded 14 sheets of construction paper and half and stapled it in the center to make a book. I wrote a letter of the alphabet on each of the pages, and my daughter and I searched through magazines and extra photographs to find things that started with that letter. This really helped personalize the alphabet book and use up some pictures.

What To Do With Your Extra Pics

There are so many different ways you can share your photographs, there is no reason for them to languish in a photo album, or worse a box or a drawer. Bring them out to the light with the ideas listed in this article.


© 2014 Shasta Matova

How Do You Use Your Photos?

Olivia de Vos from Alsemberg on September 07, 2020:

I like the decoupage on the shoes! And the idea of a collage, of course I've done it before but it hasn't crossed my mind lately to put my box full of pics to this use.

Larry Slawson from North Carolina on October 31, 2018:

Nice ideas here! Thank you for sharing. Definitely need to try a few of these.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on January 13, 2018:

The point is to use extra photographs instead of having them get ruined in storage or throwing them away. With today's technology, you can easily copy originals and just play with the copies.

Sudipa from India on January 11, 2018:

Great ideas,but don't you think a few photographs are going to be damaged in the process? In fact, photos in the laptop can be deleted, so that's an issue which can be dealt with.

Diana Abrahamson on August 08, 2016:

Thanks for the tips. Love your calendar photo idea.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 28, 2016:

That's a great idea Jan. Photos can certainly come in useful in so many ways. Throwing them away is an option, but there are so many better ways to use them.

Jan T Urquhart Baillie from Australia on March 28, 2016:

I decoupaged the drawer fronts of an old desk to use in my studio. The students loved the idea. Throw them away? Now that's a radical notion!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 14, 2016:

I'm glad I could help SuzieQ42. I would love to see what you created with your old pictures.

SusieQ42 on March 05, 2016:

I love your ideas for using old photos. I may look into the puzzle one. Thank you!

Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on May 23, 2015:

Find those relatives you haven't seen for a while and send copies of the pictures of their closer relatives.

For example, that great aunt you haven't seen in ten years may appreciate pictures of your parents (their sibling) and family.

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on April 28, 2015:

I love these creative ideas, nice hub!!!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 08, 2015:

Thanks peachpurple. A jigsaw puzzle really helps you really see all the different parts of the image.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 07, 2015:

thumbs up, making a jigsaw puzzle is a brilliant idea

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 03, 2015:

Thanks peachpurple. I have a LOT of photographs, since I tend to take a few photographs almost every single day, and tend to get very happy with the shutter when I am at photographic events like family gatherings or at a beautiful location.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 03, 2015:

Thanks Tamara. That is a good idea.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 03, 2015:

Thanks sallybea for your comment. Photograph projects do make great gifts. I have found that people enjoy getting them more and are less likely to want to return them when it is a personal and personalized gift.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 03, 2015:

Thanks colorfulone. It is a good idea to release the photographs from old photo magnetic pages where they can get deteriorated. Instead of hiding them in a box, you can give them a purpose and actually use and display them.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on January 21, 2015:

Thanks amazmerizing. I hope you found a great idea for your extra photographs.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 16, 2015:

you really have many ideas using photos

amazmerizing from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA on January 11, 2015:

Nice hub... many ideas we can really use! Thanks for sharing them! ;)

Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on November 02, 2014:

You could use old photographs strategically placed as a background for a marker board.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 11, 2014:

I love some of these ideas and with Christmas just around the corner many of them could be converted into gifts such as Calendars and Puzzles for family and friends.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on October 09, 2014:

Okey, you got me thinking about what to do with all those old photos I have saved in photo albums and packed away in plastic storage boxes.

Thank you .

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 17, 2014:

Thank you for your visit John. The old photographs tend to accumulate, don't they? I have gotten even more photographs lately by sharing with my friends and relatives. Getting them out of the computer or closet and actually using them gives them a new purpose and life.

John Dyhouse from UK on September 10, 2014:

Yep, I know exactly what you mean. I have boxes of slides and photographs of all sizes and descriptions, I started collaging because of old photos I discovered when my mother passed away. Now since getting a digital camera I take loads of photos. I know I should delete those replicates which were taken for safety but can't find it in myself to do it.

I know and use many of the applications that you mention and find that I use a lot of the non-personal photos as the focus for short articles and posts on other writing sites.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 01, 2014:

Thanks timetraveler2, Hanging them on a wall is a great way to use the extra photographs. You get to enjoy them, and they can serve as good conversation starters.

Sondra Rochelle from USA on August 15, 2014:

This is a great hub! Years ago, when I was really broke, I bought some cheap frames and mounted old family photos in them. I pasted them onto colored paper, so it looked like they were more professional. This also made them colorful. They looked great and certainly were a cheap and easy way to fill a wall! Voted up!

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on July 06, 2014:

Great ideas here. Also, your local history library may well want old photographs of your area or people. if you want to dispose of them, other than to landfill.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 06, 2014:

I found myself with too many of those little school photographs, and I didn't want to throw them out. I cut out the heads of the photos and mounted them on a large poster board. I put magnetic strips on the back, and now it hangs from the side of my refrigerator. I love to look at my precious kids and grandkids this way.

Great Hub with lots of good ideas. voted up and shared.

Vivian Sudhir from Madurai, India on June 22, 2014:

Nice article , very informative.

LisaKeating on May 29, 2014:

Excellent suggestions. I really enjoyed this Hub. You have a new follower.

Amanda from Michigan, United States on May 12, 2014:

Great ideas! I have so many photos that I want to do something with, but they're not all destined for a scrapbook so it's nice to see some alternatives.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 13, 2014:

Thanks Tim. I remember the days when photographs were so precious, and each one had to be handled with care, but now I have so many that I can use them in all sorts of different arts and crafts projects.

Thanks mckbirdbks, I didn't know I was featured in Jo Goldsmith's hub. Thanks for letting me know about that.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 02, 2014:

Lots of great ideas here. Just recently photos I am familiar with have been turned into calendars and postcards. I found my way here via Jo Goldsmiths hub you are featured in.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on March 30, 2014:

Awesome collection of amazing and useful ideas. They are presented with great ease. My nephew has been scanning family photos of his aunts, uncles, grand and great grand parents for a few years now. I can't wait for the CD's. Now, I have many choices for enjoying and sharing them. Thank you Millionaire Tips :)

tim

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 26, 2014:

Thanks Suzanne. This year, I made a photo calendar of all my quilts. I just love looking at it - lets me see my accomplishments and gives me motivations to do more.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on March 25, 2014:

I like the look of that photo calendar! I am a mad digital photographer and like to do photo shoots with 200 photos a pop. So you can imagine I have half a million on my hard drive, although only 1 in 100 is perfecto. Might have to throw some of them into photo mosaics as you demonstrated. Voted useful and up!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 25, 2014:

Nancy, thanks for the visit, comment, share and vote. There are a lot of things you can do with old photos instead of just throwing them away.

Nancy Owens from USA on March 21, 2014:

The decoupage shoe is so cute. I love the idea of creating post cards as well. Gosh! Family birthday cards, thank you cards, and of course, the scrap booking. My sister will love this Hub. Shared and voted up!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Thank you Emma, Bernie, Glenn and Dianna. I had included all the ideas for using extra photos that I could think of, but as I was cleaning, I found a couple of other ways we have used them. Glenn, I found that keeping the photos by the scanner, and doing a few a day helped me get through the whole box. It gets boring to have to do them all at one sitting. Dianna, a flash drive is a good idea. Be sure to keep a backup or two! Throwing them away is difficult for me.

Dianna Mendez on March 18, 2014:

I have so many photos that need organizing, but finding the time to do so is difficult. I now store them on a flash drive, much easier and accessible. You are right, if you can't find use for them, throw them away and ignore the guilt.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on March 18, 2014:

I think you covered every possible way that photos can be used. This was a very in-depth article. I have so many leftover photos from the early days that I once started scanning them into the computer. But it took so long that I stopped for lack of time. Nevertheless I have about half of them in digital form now. You gave a great idea... I downloaded a collage app on my iPad and I plan to make good use of it.

Bernie Ment from Syracuse, NY on March 15, 2014:

So if you throw away your extra pics, would you call that a photo finish? Great hub! Voted up!

Emma from Stoke-On-Trent on March 15, 2014:

Thanks, might take a go at that sometime over the summer

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 15, 2014:

Thank you Emma. She said her husband made it - it is just a piece of wood with chains down it. Binder clips are used to hold the photos to the chain.

Emma from Stoke-On-Trent on March 14, 2014:

Some amazing ideas on here thanks, really like the idea of the wall hanger of photos is that handmade?

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 13, 2014:

Thanks Vicki, Randi, Lisa, Rose randomcreative, and Kiddie Creations. I hope all your photographs will get new life at your house. Lisa, I love your idea to color in photos. I remember seeing colorized black and white photos from the 50s and they looked great!

Nicole K on March 13, 2014:

I love this hub! You've outlined some great uses for extra photos that I never thought about before. I really like the idea of a photo puzzle. Maybe I'll have one of those made for a present sometime!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 13, 2014:

You've covered a great range of options here! Thanks for sharing your tips about scanning photos.

Lisa Roppolo from Joliet, IL on March 13, 2014:

Good tips! I have a ton of digital photos. I take photos of my husband's kids and create photo books several times a year to send to their grandmother who lives out of state. I've taken some of my garden photos and printed them in black and white onto transparency film then colored in specific areas as an art project.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on March 13, 2014:

Great ideas! They sure beat the bagful of pictures I drag each time I move but never do anything with!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on March 12, 2014:

Neat ideas! I used to put my pics in photo albums, but I got behind. Now, I have some in photo boxes, but I'm still way behind. Your hub gives me some things to think about. I especially like the idea of collages. They're interesting to look at.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 12, 2014:

Thanks Roberta. I found that scanning a few pictures a day made the job more manageable. I was able to load several pictures at a time on my flatbed scanner, and the program divided them into separate jpg files. You can just scan the photo you want to make the puzzle out of so the grandchildren don't have to wait until all the photos are scanned.

Thanks Stephen, I think a family tree structure would be a great display for a living room or for a family reunion.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 12, 2014:

Thanks Shelley. I have lots of blurry, dark and grainy photos that I have kept for many years. I guess I was thinking I might be able to find an art project to use them, but now I don't have as much trouble with the delete button on the computer.

Thanks Jo. I bet your granddaughter would love to put a puzzle together and be able to recognize the person or place.

Thanks Bill. The mosaic lets you use a lot of your photos together into one big picture.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 12, 2014:

Thanks Jill. Turning your photos into postcards gives them a second chance to be useful. Love the photo wall idea!

Thanks Jaye, I hope you find the time to use these photo ideas.

Thank you Rosa. That is so sweet! Thanks for the additional ideas.

Stephen Connellee from Michigan on March 12, 2014:

Lots of great ideas! I like the mosaic concept, but I really love your idea of creating a family tree structure with the pictures.

RTalloni on March 12, 2014:

Oh me, I do need to bring them out, scan them, and do something creative with them. Thanks for encouragement to get this overdue task done. I'm thinking puzzles of my children for their children might be a good idea one day… :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2014:

Very clever ideas. I love the mosaic...thank you for your creativity. I'll be trying a couple of these.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on March 12, 2014:

I like the puzzle idea. Think I will do that for my granddaughters. Thanks for all of the ideas.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 12, 2014:

I like the collage ideas and especially you giving people permission to throw the unwanted ones out. I "inherited" all of the photos that my parents-in-law never organized -- so many duplicates and bad photos among the treasures! I wished that at some point they had made the choice to toss the bad ones.

Rosa Marchisella from Canada on March 11, 2014:

Excellent ideas! Voted up, etc. and Pinned it so others can get in on the fun! Would love to see this as a Hub of the Day!

I've started using some of my extras in personalized memes for my FB Page, filler images in my hubs, as stock images for digital art projects, and I have a stock account on DeviantArt for other people to use in their projects.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on March 11, 2014:

Guess who is bookmarking this very helpful hub? You're right--I am! I've given my adult children and grandchildren bunches of my photos, but still have numerous albums and boxes full of pictures. Now you've given me some great ideas for using them. I especially like the idea of a photo book (or multiple ones).

Voted Up++ and shared

Jaye

jill of alltrades from Philippines on March 11, 2014:

Great tips! Up and useful!!!

I convert most of my photos into postcards. I'm also working on photo wall at home.