How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?

Started Apr 21, 2013 | Discussions
MarkLand
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 22, 2013

My method is simple enough:  I shoot raw and browse in Lightroom to delete unacceptable shots.  Bridge-PS for the ones I keep then delete ones which don't get processed there sorting by date modified.  On occasion there are multiple versions of the same scene but this process eliminates about 90+% of the photos.  Memory may be cheap but finding a photo when you learn some new PS technique is much easier if you have taken out the trash...

-Mark

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Alton (TN)
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 22, 2013

Drobo...

I almost always import my pictures into my computer through LR. If I see that I have a "bad" shot, I uncheck it and don't copy it to the computer in the first place. By bad I mean, totally OOF, blurred beyond use, subject moved at last minute, etc.

Others that I deem questionable, I keep and file away on my Drobo drive for future consideration. After several years I find that I still really can't use them then I delete them. I find that I almost never keep a picture that I didn't think I could use in the first place.

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Alton

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gfspencer
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to Alton (TN), Apr 22, 2013

I keep everything that isn't blurry.  I was looking at some photos from 10 years ago.  At the time I didn't think much of them.  I was on vacation in Germany taking photos of windmills out of the bus window late in the evening.  As trip photos they weren't too hot.    But I looked at them last week and there were really good shots in an artsy sort of way.  I'm glad that I didn't get rid of them.

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Ed Rizk
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 22, 2013

When I started digital photography, I kept everything.  WHAT A NIGHTMARE!  Many pic that I like, I can't find.  I had to store some on external drives and have to sift through the drives to find old pics that I like.

Now I delete all the bad pics unless I have no other pic of the subject and want to document it, or there is something I like about the pic (landscape or architecture only) and I want to go back and do that one over.  If I have two similar pics and both are good, I pick one to delete.

I spend a lot of time deleting bad pics from old digital folders now.

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jsmiller
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Time is money.
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 22, 2013

These days storage space is not a problem. I recently bought a 3 TB drive for a little more than $100. But I come from 30 years of film shooting. Generally I thought about each shot carefully, as film and processing were expensive. Now I do tend to shoot more images. But it is not free, if your time counts. When you first look through a set of images, you can spend a lot of time studying the pluses and minus of each. If you don't cull them then in some way, when you next look at them you will have to go through them all again and so on.

If you have the discipline the best thing to do is to cull them immediate, asking yourself seriously if each image has something uniquely better that other similar images or can stand completely on its own. Get rid of the ones that don't make the grade. For a less permanent approach, you can transfer all the images you think that don't clearly make the cut to another folder and label it rejects or something. From time to time you can look at your rejects and see if they should remain that way. Once that you gain confidence that you are rejecting the right pictures, you can simply delete them. But having to look through 100 images everytime you want to work with them in order to find the 10% that are keepers can be a waste of time.

Since I still tend to shoot like I am using expensive film, I probably take less images than some people do and have more keepers. But the temptation is always there to shoot away and hope that some will be what you want.

Joe

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kelpdiver
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 22, 2013

sethmarshall wrote:

Okay, it sounds like I'm not alone then!  As I seem to have the same issue as you.  And yes, the biggest problem for me is finding the time.  For some this may be easy but I'm not good at throwing things away.  So in the end if I take 300 pictures, I usually only delete a few obvious bad ones, and only work on a few obvious great ones.  Then the rest just sit there in my many LR catalogs.

Time, and interest.  I'll kick up LR to do a culling action but I find I quickly run out of steam for drudge work.  Meanwhile, the incoming shots keep raising the total.  And since I usually go RAW+JPEG, that's a lot of files.

Like you, I kill the bad.  Out of focus or subject goes off frame is easy.   Same with very bad exposure.   And if I took two or three shots and there's an obvious best one, then I kill the others.   But it's problematic when there's 10+ similar shots, and that's where I go find something else to do.

What I do do, that I think is a good starting point, is Pick and rename the excellent shots, the ones I actually go on to PP.  Then you can (in LR) restrict to flagged photos, and in other browsers you just look for the named ones.  It also allows me to do script automatic file copies to a directory tree that only has good stuff, as well as do offline backups.

As time passes, it's easier to go back to a shoot and dramatically cull the IMG_XXXX files.  But in the first year, I keep thinking 'what if' and it doesn't cost me that much to leave there.   I am looking at the lossy-dng stuff and considering a plan that after a year I'd purge the original .JPG and convert the .CR2 to this lossy format.  Then in the slight chance I'd come back and want one of these, I'd still have white balance and RAW headroom, but with a bit less mess and data space.  (Or I could just delete the JPG since I'm clearly not needing the immediately available version)

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bgbs
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Re: Excess Removal = Stronger Portfolio. Keep just 10% of your best shot.
In reply to 007peter, Apr 22, 2013

Thats a tough call. Stuff you do not like or care for at first sight, does not mean it's bad.  
My criteria is to keep everything from OK to Great, and delete everything else. A photograph that you might not like today, may become one of your best tomorrow. The shots with technical flaws should be deleted, the rest should require a second look.

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bgbs
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photojournalism vs artistic photography
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 22, 2013

If you are shooting an artistic photo you would probably throw away, as some said, 90% of your photos, because you only care about the best.  If you're shooting photojournalistic type of stuff, like events and your family, the only thing you care about whether the shot documented the subject very well. So, for those kind of photographs you are less judgmental, so they tend to clutter your collection.
For example, if you're shooting your own kids, the only thing you care about is recording the memory. Even if the shot is slightly out of focus or compositionally off, you still keep it because it is about having memory or recollection of the time, rather than anything else.

Or, if you take photojournalism for example. If you've got a the only shot of some extraordinary event, it will get published no matter how bad it is. (well if it is really, really bad, it won't get published)

My point, it depends.

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bgbs
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Delete away...but
In reply to Jimmy K., Apr 22, 2013

make sure your time machine backs them up first.  God forbid if you accidentally delete something that you need back.  I went on a deletion spree one day and delete a whole event by accident. Thank goodness my time machine backed it up.

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Jim Cassatt
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Re: Time is money.
In reply to jsmiller, Apr 22, 2013

I don't understand why you have to go through your images every time.  Using Lightroom I just prioritize everything with both ratings and colors for the ones I really like.

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mikejkay67
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Re: Excess Removal = Stronger Portfolio. Keep just 10% of your best shot.
In reply to 007peter, Apr 22, 2013

I keep everything that isn't badly exposed or out of focus mainly because I have found that different people like different photographs (of mine).

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sethmarshall
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to kelpdiver, Apr 22, 2013

Thanks for the replies everyone.   One more thing I'd like to add about why this process is hard for me.

Early on I noticed if I took multiple shots of something, even if there were 5 great versions one is almost ALWAYS significantly sharper.  Motion blur of subject or myself, along with a missed focus from the camera, there is always a sharper version.

But going through each shot at 100% takes time, especially since you have to zoom back out to compare the overall composition as well.

Just something to consider in case some of you don't take the time to look at your shots at 100%.  My monitors are only 24".  But someday maybe there will be easy applications available to determine the sharper images.  And when that day comes the standard will be raised.

Maybe I'm just trying to justify why I spend so much time before deleting something.

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Graham Meale
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Re: Excess Removal = Stronger Portfolio. Keep just 10% of your best shot.
In reply to bgbs, Apr 23, 2013

bgbs wrote:

The shots with technical flaws should be deleted, the rest should require a second look.

There's always the dilemma, do you keep the portrait with a wonderful facial expression that's slightly soft, or the one that's extremely sharp with a less interesting expression? Or both?

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Atgard
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 23, 2013

sethmarshall wrote:

Thanks, Billythek for your input - under what criteria do you keep of the 10% of landscapes you do?  If a certain landscape clearly isn't something I am proud of, as long as focus is good I still find it hard to delete because it reminds me of the experience.

As for family gatherings, that's the hardest for me.  I may fire off a dozen of my baby in rapid succession, and even when there is clearly a best photo, unless focus is way off it's hard for me to delete anything even in the same set.  Maybe it's my video background, but I appreciate all the minute expression changes and can't delete.

Do others simply keep everything?  Or do most of you find the best and be done with it?

Good question, and one I've been asking myself. As a new dad, I've been taking [insert a really high number that is too embarrassing for me to admit] pics of the little guy on a daily basis. I've tried to cull about half if they're not sharp enough or he doesn't have a cute expression (which I find is rarely the case -- although I may be biased!). But then I still have 10 sharp pics of essentially the same position, each of which has a slightly different cute facial expression. What to do?

I've been selecting the 1 or 2 best shots for the day as favorites, so I have my 100 best shots to post or show off or look at. I know I won't look over thousands upon thousands of shots, let alone show them to anyone. But I am loathe to throw them away.

So my workflow is: shoot in RAW. Review and delete the obvious bad/blurry ones, or ones that are almost identical (20-50% of the shots). Keep all the rest in RAW. Pick my favorites (average 1 or 2 a day), and edit them in Lightroom, then save to JPG.

So I've just been filling up hard drives with all the "pretty good" RAW files. Maybe not ideal, but I can quickly find my favorites, and have all the decent shots in RAW just in case. One day I may decide to cull the pretty good shots -- it will be easier if I find I've never looked at them a few years later.

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MitchyK7
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 23, 2013

Seth, i used to hoard like you, and the tool that helped me out was a duplicate file finder. It goes through your hard drive and finds identical files, i was shocked to find i could have 5 or more identical photo's taken together, even worse i'd have those 5 stored in several different places on different drives! So i started using it semi regularly and it keeps my folder sizes manageable. I have a 2TB external drive and around 300GB is currently photos. That's after culling them and just keeping the singles and best ones. lol, this is many years of files though so i'm not too fussed right now, it was around 1.25TB! That WAS bad! lol. But like i said a duplicate file finder, many of which are freeware, can help in this regard immensely!

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roby17269
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 23, 2013

This is my workflow, for what is worth

First I download the photos from the card to the computer and copy them on 2 local external disks as well. I shoot only RAW

Then I go thru them quickly to remove technically bad ones (out of focus, blurred, missed exposure, bad expressions, etc.) which have no special content that makes them worthy.

Then I use Bridge (now LightRoom) to sift thru them and mark the technically good ones with 1 star.

Then I sift thru the ones with 1 star to mark the ones that are interesting subject- or composition-wise with 2 stars.

Then I sift thru the ones with 2 stars to remove duplicates and mark the ones that survive with 3 stars.

Then I sift thru the ones with 3 stars to mark the best ones with 4 stars.

Then it depends: if the 4-starred ones are less than 10-20 I process them, otherwise I keep culling down till I get under 10-20.

When I get there I backup the RAW files with the max rating plus the ones with max - 1 rating and delete all the lower- or no-rating ones permanently (I mean also from the backups done at the beginning) and I mark the survivors for online backup as well.

Then I post-process the survivors.

My average right now is that I keep between 2% and 4% of the shots. All the rest disappears.

Yes I know that storage is cheap... and I've read the arguments along the lines of: "keep all your originals because in the future there may be better software tools that will be able to improve them further". These arguments are true but I still don't buy them because: a) every time I upgrade storage it becomes a longer and longer chore to transfer ever-increasing quantities of data, b) I have no time whatsoever to do trips down the memory lane to revisit old images and c) as I feel my photography is improving, my most recent shots are more interesting to me.

Moreover, I do strongly agree with what someone else has written about showing around just our best photos.

Anyways, all imho

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NancyP
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In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 23, 2013

That's my problem. I acquired 10K of photos before I got a handle on using Lightroom. Now I have to go back to old folders and decide: keyword or delete? I delete technically insufficient photos, with the exception of family photos, "must go back to that location and reshoot" reminder photos, and wildlife "type" photos that demonstrate an unique aspect of a species well.

I do evaluate my photos as part of a series of shots of that day, to see what, if anything, the losers have in common. What mistakes did I make? Once I digest that lesson, the technically insufficient photos get deleted from disk. What this means, though, is that I may have undeleted copies on my backup disk.

I flag the most interesting photos, and rate those later.

Workflow is the hardest part of photography.

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kelpdiver
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to roby17269, Apr 23, 2013

roby17269 wrote:

Yes I know that storage is cheap... and I've read the arguments along the lines of: "keep all your originals because in the future there may be better software tools that will be able to improve them further". These arguments are true but I still don't buy them because: a) every time I upgrade storage it becomes a longer and longer chore to transfer ever-increasing quantities of data, b) I have no time whatsoever to do trips down the memory lane to revisit old images and c) as I feel my photography is improving, my most recent shots are more interesting to me.

Copying 500Gb may take longer than copying 100Gb to complete, but your part of it takes just as long - enter the command. All of my actions can be automated here.

I think you're correct in C) that the bar will be raised.  This can mean more images immediately get rejected as bad, but it also means a higher percentage of technically acceptable images.

Your method of going through all surviving images on 5 separate passes seems very time consuming.  I think the Kelby method for identifying bad and great is much more expedient to getting something out the door fast.   If I find a few more great images later to add, great, but I don't want to wade through 90% of the images before I can show anything.

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kelpdiver
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Re: How do you delete your unneeded photos or do you hoard them like me?
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 23, 2013

sethmarshall wrote:

Early on I noticed if I took multiple shots of something, even if there were 5 great versions one is almost ALWAYS significantly sharper.  Motion blur of subject or myself, along with a missed focus from the camera, there is always a sharper version.

hmm...if that's the case, it's somewhat easy.  You could set lightroom to generate full size previews during import.  Takes longer, but it's all in one batch action.

But that's different than for me.  I can probably eliminate 2 of the 5 as not as sharp, but I'm not finding it common that just one stands out.  I typically have a few candidates and then I look for eyes, limb positioning and other subject collisions to cut it down.   Are you setting your shutter speed to the 1/X value and relying on IS to do its thing?  Or using autoiso, which effectively does the same thing?  When you have the luxury of sufficient light, you might want to increase shutter speed to 2x and see if you can get a higher rate.

May be nothing to this, but it's worth a look at the exif data.

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RedFox88
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Re: photo album
In reply to sethmarshall, Apr 23, 2013

sethmarshall wrote:

RedFox88 wrote:

Think of things in relation to printed 4x6 photo album.  If you would not print it and put it in a photo album, you are unlikely to regard it highly and will then be a photo amongst 1000s or 10000s that never get looked at.

So does that mean you permanently delete all the other photos you would otherwise not put in the album?

Yes.

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