I have an iphone 4, with ios 7.1.2, and my phone tells me my software is up to date. When I log into iCloud photos, I can't view any of my photos. There is small print saying "iCloud photos requires ios 8.1 or later..." Does this mean I cannot use iCloud? I am paying for extra storage but where are my pictures?
You can use iCloud photos from a PC, Mac, iOS and web application. So it's conceivable you could use that service even though one of your devices is ineligible to participate due to it not running a supported iOS version.
From a supported web browser, your photos in iCloud are at:
You can review storage at - https://www.icloud.com/#settings