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. | Source

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.

A Photo Collage is one way you can use your extra photographs.  There are many more!
A Photo Collage is one way you can use your extra photographs. There are many more! | Source
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! | Source

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.

Photo calendar
Photo calendar | Source

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.

Photo Puzzle
Photo Puzzle | Source

How Many Extra Photos Do You Have?

  • None, I cherish each one
  • 1-20
  • 21-100
  • 101-250
  • 251-500
  • more than 500
See results without voting

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. | Source

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.

Photos on a Poster
Photos on a Poster | Source

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. | Source

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.

Source

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. | Source

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

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How Do You Use Your Photos? 60 comments

Diana Abrahamson profile image

Diana Abrahamson 3 months ago from t Francis Bay

Thanks for the tips. Love your calendar photo idea.


Linda Williams 6 months ago

I really like CollageIt, especially for the selection of layouts it provides. It's a cool app for Mac users.

I also use PhotoVideoCollage as a mobile collage maker. It's a lesser known app, but great for making collages from photos and videos. It's free, so who's interested can check it out on http://photovideocollage.com/videocollage.html.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 8 months ago from USA Author

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.


JanTUB profile image

JanTUB 8 months ago from Australia

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!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 8 months ago from USA Author

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


SusieQ42 9 months ago

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


tamarawilhite profile image

tamarawilhite 18 months ago from Fort Worth, Texas

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.


easylearningweb profile image

easylearningweb 19 months ago

I love these creative ideas, nice hub!!!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 22 months ago from USA Author

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


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

thumbs up, making a jigsaw puzzle is a brilliant idea


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 22 months ago from USA Author

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 22 months ago from USA Author

Thanks Tamara. That is a good idea.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 22 months ago from USA Author

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 22 months ago from USA Author

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 22 months ago from USA Author

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


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

you really have many ideas using photos


amazmerizing profile image

amazmerizing 23 months ago from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA

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


tamarawilhite profile image

tamarawilhite 2 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

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


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

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.


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 2 years ago from Minnesota

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 .


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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 profile image

John Dyhouse 2 years ago from UK

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

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 profile image

DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

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.


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida

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.


snerfu profile image

snerfu 2 years ago from Madurai, India

Nice article , very informative.


LisaKeating 2 years ago

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


Amanda108 profile image

Amanda108 2 years ago from Michigan, United States

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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 profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

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.


tsmog profile image

tsmog 2 years ago from Escondido, CA

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


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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 profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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 profile image

Nancy Owens 2 years ago from USA

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!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

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 profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

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.


BernietheMovieGuy profile image

BernietheMovieGuy 2 years ago from Syracuse, NY

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


Emmabnormal profile image

Emmabnormal 2 years ago from Stoke-On-Trent

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


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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.


Emmabnormal profile image

Emmabnormal 2 years ago from Stoke-On-Trent

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


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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!


kiddiecreations profile image

kiddiecreations 2 years ago

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!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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


LisaRoppolo profile image

LisaRoppolo 2 years ago from Joliet, IL

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.


btrbell profile image

btrbell 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

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


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

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.


Opining Penguin profile image

Opining Penguin 2 years ago from Michigan

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 profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

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… :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

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


jo miller profile image

jo miller 2 years ago from Tennessee

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


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

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.


I Am Rosa profile image

I Am Rosa 2 years ago from Canada

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.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

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 profile image

jill of alltrades 2 years ago from Philippines

Great tips! Up and useful!!!

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

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