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Kerry McLean: Why I need to have a wee word with my little daughter about taking secret photos of me

Kerry was being secretly photographed by her young daughter
Kerry was being secretly photographed by her young daughter

By Kerry McLean

Do you ever get that annoying message pop up on your phone when you're trying to take a picture? You know, the one that says, 'Not enough storage' just as you finally herd all the kids together, scrubbed clean, pointing in the same direction and smiling as proof that they can behave themselves for at least five seconds.

By the time you delete a few unnecessary pics or a random video or two, the moment has gone and the children have scattered like dandelion seeds on the wind. So, in order to avoid being caught out again, I sat myself down one evening this week and determined to bin all the unwanted images from my phone. Even I was shocked to discover that I have just under 18,000 pics on there and, believe me, at least half of them deserve to be deleted.

In the good old days of handheld cameras with individual films that you inserted in the back, you knew that you had a limited number of possibilities with a mere handful of exposures on each reel.

Photos were something you took time over, gathering everyone together and hoping against hope that you managed to include each person's head and feet in the snap.

Not that you would discover what they looked like until you had sent the film away and waited up to a week for its return.

When the prints came home in their little paper packet, there was always great excitement as each image was passed around the entire family.

Everyone would be reminded to hold them around the edges but there was always some poor eijit who would end up being berated for leaving a dirty great fingerprint on the photo.

Such a different experience from today, when we all think we're the next best thing to the famous fashion photographer David Bailey. We take 30 pictures where one would do, from this angle and that, telling ourselves we'll keep the best one and delete the rest when we get the chance. It's just that the chance doesn't seem to come very often.

It's not just the pictures I've taken which have clogged up my phone's storage.

If someone had never met me but, for some strange reason, had access to my photo folders, they would be left with a very bizarre impression of my personality. Yes, I have many pics of my offspring, possibly even more of my gorgeous dog (sorry kids!) and my lovely husband makes the odd appearance.

I have a son who is obsessed with cars so anytime I see any unusual makes and models I take a picture to send to him, resulting in a collection of car photos that even Jeremy Clarkson would be proud of.

I have an atrocious memory, so I take photos of things as an aide memoire - I have several snapshots of empty milk cartons and egg boxes to remind me to buy more.

Less expected was the discovery that I have hundreds of pics, taken at strange angles, of teddy bears and toys thanks to my three-year-old daughter, and I was very disturbed to find, as I went through the mountain of photos, that she's been using my phone to take pics of me when I didn't know.

All the times that I thought she was playing with the educational apps I had downloaded, she was instead snapping away like a pint-sized paparazza. There are photos of the side of my face as I drive the car, a lovely couple of close ups of me conked out on the sofa with my mouth hanging open and yes, horror of horrors, a couple of me in the smallest room of the house using the facilities.

My first reaction when I saw those less than flattering photos was of course to delete them, but now my mind is racing with questions. I keep wondering if they were automatically saved to the memory Cloud we keep being told about? They're no longer on my phone but are they still floating about somewhere out there? Can anyone access them and see them? And more importantly, does anyone really understand what the Cloud is and how it works?

Certainly no-one I know and maybe I'm better not knowing just in case I don't like the answer...

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