What is a "photo dump" and why are people sharing them?

What is a photo dump? Instagram story prompt
(Image credit: Beth Nicholls)

Most of us have busy lives at the moment, especially during the 9-5 work week, and it can be tricky to remember or even find the time to share images and posts on social media to update those close to us about what we've been up to. Unless of course, you aren't the type to share much on social media, and that's fine too! 

With the introduction of Stories and highlights on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, it's far less common for users (myself included) to actually post lasting content on our socials, when the ease of uploading a quick story makes it much more convenient to share glimpses of our day, that don't need to stay on the feed – especially with the best cameras for Instagram.

Many people have spotted the term "photo dump" being used a lot more frequently online in recent months, particularly on image-sharing social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and some users are understandably confused by what this term actually means. Spoiler alert: it's not related to taking a photo of any [insert chocolate ice cream emoji]'s. 

In simple terms, a "photo dump" is the collective dumping or mass uploading of a set of images on social media (or anywhere online really) in a post or album format that aren't necessarily related or cohesive, but they might be! In most cases, photo dumping is used to catch up on previous days, weeks, months, or maybe even a year of images that a user has not shared or posted online, due to other commitments. 

For photographers especially, having a routine of when to regularly post content on social media can be extremely beneficial for boosting statistics on your posts like engagement and reach - at least until the next algorithm update changes it all again.

Posting images on Instagram at certain times of the day or week can even improve how many interactions, likes, comments, and saves, that a post will collectively get. But this only really matters if you're the type of photographer who relies on figures and business stats to determine account growth

(Image credit: Beth Nicholls)

For personal accounts on social media, as opposed to business or influencer accounts, uploading and sharing images is often a little more on the relaxed side. The majority of users with personal accounts tend to post images and Instagram reels solely for themselves, and their close friends to see, rather than with the intent to create a regularly maintained portfolio as such.

Keeping your followers and Facebook friends updated on your life and daily doings is by no means an obligatory task, and if we're being honest, it's unlikely that anybody is absolutely dying to see what you had for lunch on Tuesday. 

Some people will go years without updating their profile photos or sharing any images online, but "photo dumping" seems to be the new and convenient method for busy people (and lazy folks like myself) to post a chunk of images at once, and share multiple life updates with the internet, usually taking the form of a recap on a particular month, event, or specific time period, that may have already passed. 

Instagram story chain prompt (Image credit: Beth Nicholls)

It's worth noting that despite a "photo dump" commonly taking the form of long-term and lasting content (that doesn't expire after a certain amount of time), many users on Instagram do however use the stories feature as another method of photo dumping. Story prompts are chains that follow through multiple stories that one user creates, and others can attach their own images too.

Story prompts are very commonly used to spark other users to follow the chain and upload a photo dump, with images that can then be stored in bulk through the user's own Instagram archive, and accessed by others via highlight tabs if created.

You might also like: how to add multiple photos to one Instagram Story.

Hopefully, this explainer has helped some poor lost social media souls to understand the art of photo dumping a bit better, and navigate the confusing and changing trends of photo-sharing sites. 

Next time you forget (or choose not to) post on Instagram or Facebook for months on end, you can use the "photo dump" loophole to let others know what your last six months have consisted of, without feeling like you've missed the boat or metaphorical window of opportunity to post about it. 

You should also take a look at the best cameras for vlogging to kickstart your YouTube journey, or perhaps you need one of the best ring lights to up your TikTok game. 

See our guides to the best camera for streaming on Twitch, Mixer, and Facebook Live, as well as the best free Instagram Stories templates to enhance your online content creation.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.