Google Photos App

It’s been a while since I have been trying to tame the monster that is digital photo storage. I haven’t quite got the dragon slain but Google Photos sure has been having fun with my pictures in the meantime.

Pano Google

A panorama stitched together by Google Photos

I started backing up my iPhone photo stream using the Google Photos app in addition to importing the photos to Apple’s Photos app on my MacBook. Plus I’m still keeping a third copy in my cloud backup. This is not a very streamlined system, and at some point I’ll need to sort through all the photos, but for now I at least have them collected and backed up.

Google Photos is free to store your backups when you select a compressed size. My iPhone is my only camera so this format is plenty good for what I’m shooting. I have it set to upload only when I am connected to wi-fi, preserving my data plan for other things.

Before using the Google product, you need to realize that they will be processing through your photos and videos. I am not completely comfortable with this idea but I have been lured into this full disclosure with the bait of auto tagging for faces and subject matters thanks to Google Photos Assistant.

The fun comes in when Google assistant aka minions have been crunching away at my data and offer up some “effects” for my approval.


Stylized Photos

The minions like to play with filters so stylized photos are one effect. So far, it’s been occasional conversions to black and white but most often it’s this old-timey filter.

For the black and whites, the photos have been cropped down to a square.



My animations tend to be silly animal actions based on the ridiculous number of shots I take while watching birds. Remember how I’ve developed A Passion for Pelicans? Thanks to the bijillions of my uploaded photos, so has Google assistant.



Staying with my beach theme – this time I was taking sunset shots. It was unusual that the minions used the same photo for the filter as those in the animation. On this one, I actually like the crashing waves gif since the camera was stationary.

Waves Google

Saturated colors and softened edges aren’t really an improvement.

Google Wave

Hoping to capture the crashing waves at their peak

Stories and Movies

Two other features are stories and movies. The minions string together a series of photos and videos into online scrapbooks or movies. It never fails that one or two of the photos used are not the best shots in the group. Currently, the videos can be edited on iPhones and Android phones plus iPads but not via the web. I’ll be playing with these features soon to improve upon the minions’ work and create some of my own Sundance submissions.

Here’s a short film based on my bike touring adventures in Los Angeles I wrote about previously. Because the photos were taken on an older phone, the minions only had access to photos that I had selected out for the blog post so I can’t argue with their choices.


The sharing via link option for the stories has some serious privacy limitations – once a link is sent to someone, they can “join the album” where one universal setting is available for all joiners to either edit/not edit the album. Also no option exists to keep the list of joiners shielded from the others. Looks to be geared for sharing among family and friends.

Sharing via Facebook and Twitter can be done but I don’t want to link all these accounts together. My mind reels at the thought of the combined facial recognition processing that would happen. I would prefer to be able to download the album to share as a standalone movie. Thus, I won’t be posting any of the stories here on the blog until this feature changes.


Next is the Great Purge

My workflow does not include rigorous deletion of bad photos – and my storage needs reflect that. I found a program that will go through your photos and sort them into toss / ok / keep. I haven’t bought it. I just don’t have the nerve to endure that level of criticism yet… I might need another beach vacation first.


How about you, how do you tame your digital photo overload?


This is my first foray into the iphriday posts hosted by graydaysandcoffee where camera phones rule the day!