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March 2, 2021
You can turn off the app’s automatic backup setting (tap the account button, Photos Settings, Back up & Sync, turn off), then manually upload just what you want, but I strongly advise against that.
I think you should still automatically upload everything. The primary purpose of Google Photos is to keep your phone’s photos safe. You don’t want to drop your phone overboard and then realize that you had not done your manual uploads in a week. You were on vacation in a beautiful spot and now all your photos are gone.
Besides, if you do the math I think you’ll see that it’s worth it. I took about 20 photos and 3 videos (1 minute each) today. They’re not that important, but I would be hard pressed to decide which ones are ‘worth’ uploading. I let them all be automatically uploaded just as I always have. My storage usage went up by .12GB. Since I pay $20/year for storing 100GB, I can calculate the cost of today’s photos by $20 * .0012, or 2.4 cents.
The only way I might be changing my behavior is deleting. While all my photos were stored 100% free and unlimited, I never bothered deleting. Even when I took 25 photos of a pretty sunset, I kept them all – marking my best as favorites and/or putting a few chosen photos into an album. Now, for the ones that are not my favorites, I will consider deleting them.