Artsy Accidents: 6 Creative Uses For Your Throwaway Digital Images

Joshua Lockhart 13-12-2014

Accidental screenshots, Snapchat saves, and slips of the trigger finger in your camera app – all of these lead to unwanted digital images. Should you delete them? Not necessarily.


While Dave Parrack is all about keeping your images for sentiment’s sake Why You Should Never Delete Dodgy Digital Photos [Opinion] The digital age we're now living in has changed our ideas of ownership and copyright. For better or worse. It's also changed the way we do various things. In the field of photography moving to... Read More , some of us in the Creative section like to recycle them for more… inventive purposes. Let’s see what you can do with digital disposables.

Photo Collages & Mosaics


It’s a classic art form, but hey, you have to admit that photo collages and mosaics Create Beautiful Collages For Instagram With Photo Grid for Android Ah, the coveted Instagram Like. Many of us say we don't care, but it's hard to remain truly blasé in the face of 15 (or 150) Likes on that photo you've uploaded yesterday. Read More  are still pretty cool. Rather than reusing the same series of images over and over, it would be much more interesting to add a few extra to the mix… even if they are photos you would otherwise delete.

It’s important to save all your materials when working with a creative project. This will add extra texture and variety to the final product, and while it’s most certainly a minor detail, that’s what’s great about it – it’s a minor detail that will separate your work from the rest. Keep those crappy photos then put them to good use in a photo mosaic or collage 3 Tips to Help You Create Photo Collages the Easy Way Creating collages can be a bit time-consuming if you do it yourself in MS Paint or Photoshop. If you don’t feel exactly creative, your work may not even bring you the results you want. I... Read More .

Photo Creations



Who knows when you’ll need a shot of someone accidentally spilling a coffee cup over? Who knows when you’ll to cut out that coffee cup and place it on top of a seal’s head using Photoshop?

Sometimes elements in photos – stuff you wouldn’t even expect – could be use for photo creations elsewhere. Like this cow. Save it.

Video Plates


If you’re working with green screen or video compositing How to Do Green Screen Video in iMovie and Adobe Premiere Technically known as chroma-keying, green screening is the process of masking a video using color - removing specific parts so you can overlay one video on top of another. An obvious example is the weather,... Read More in any capacity, you’ll always need a background. If, perchance, you’re working on a slightly abstract music video or even a talking head, it may very well be a good idea to keep that blurry brick wall photo as a backdrop (or, as they like to call it in the industry, “plates”).


Sure, it’s basic, but if you’re a vlogger or an After Effects aficionado, having that extra photo that says, “Oh no, I dropped my phone in dog poop while it was set to a photo timer” could make all the difference. Because you could use it as your backdrop. Really.

Graphic Design Tools


Ever needed an specific texture? Or maybe you’re wanting to work with a pre-existing color palette? Throwaway digital images can definitely help you with that.

By sampling textures from objects in crappy photos, you can create your own seamless patterns for just about any graphic design usage you could imagine. The healing brush, stamp, and clone tool can all be of service for this. Furthermore, the eyedropper tool can help create custom color palettes based on what’s already there.


Jib-Jab Videos


Creativity comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes it comes in a much more humorous form. Like taking the bad photos of your friends of family, cropping them a bit, and placing their faces over dancing characters in a shareable, gimmicky, pre-made JibJab video.

We all have horrible photos out there, and we seemingly always trust whoever captures them to make sure they are deleted. We’re just suggesting that you perhaps save those photos. Christmas is coming up, so you know Jib-Jab has some great content up right now. Make it happen.



This one may take a little more intent than just having an accidental photo, but trust me – it will be worth it. We all know how panoramas basically work in Photoshop. The software takes a bunch of existing images and stitches them together to make one gargantuan seamless image – easy enough (if you don’t consider the years of code and hard work leading up to one small feature).

By purposefully taking bad photos in one area (perhaps standing in an area, spinning around, and taking lots and lots of pictures), you could create a very surrealistic panorama. How would you use this in a practical setting? I’m not sure, but it might look cool. Kind of like the two-headed dog shown above, which was taken completely by accident.

If you don’t have access to Photoshop, you can also do this right from your iPhone using the Panorama feature and scanning wildly and without caution, looking like a mad man at your local park.

What other uses do you have for unwanted photos? Have you made use of any of the above ideas?

Image Credits: Sally Crossthwaite,  **tWo pInK pOSsuMs**@Doug88888Sara Robertson, Austin & Zack

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