Pare Your Files

At the beginning of the new year,  another task to complete is the review and deletion of unnecessary images.  Those of you who never delete any images will probably want to leave the room...this is not for you.  These images take up room on my hard drive.  Yes, I know storage is cheap these days, but will I ever use some of these things? Probably not. I'm a big believer in shooting many images.  A facial expression can change in a millisecond, and I want to catch just the right expression.  There are images to the right, left and behind the one that first catches your eye, and I want to get everything I can from a scene.  I often bracket (taking multiple exposures with different shutter speed settings while maintaining the aperture and framing) a landscape to get the light at its best in all parts of the image.  Back in the old days, I bought film in 100 foot rolls and loaded my own film cassettes to keep the costs of film low enough to shoot without worry.  I am a fairly strict editor when I import my images, but, since I like to play in Photoshop, sometimes I'll keep images for composites or for teaching purposes.  All of this causes the image count to go up at a fast pace.  And I have tens of thousands of images in my Lightroom databases.

Get your wastebasket ready - we're going into the files, brandishing the DELETE button!

If you are organized with Adobe Lightroom, Apple's Aperture, or some other visual program, this is a much easier job.  If you have to go into folders all over your hard drive, using something like the Microsoft Picture Viewer, you have my sympathy.  The rules of engagement are your own making.  I'm most receptive in the morning, so this is a morning job.

I move client work to their own database and rarely delete those.  You never know when somebody will call back and ask about a specific photo that was never used, but now is of interest to them.

Anything that was taken as a snapshot is directly in harm's way.  For example, during the Aruba photowalk, I took this shot of souvenir geckos for sale.  Why?  I have no idea.  Delete it!  At the last Washington Nationals ballgame, I shot hundreds of images, including Josh Wilmingham hitting another foul.  The Nats lost; Sports Illustrated is not going to call me; and I'm not really a big fan. Delete!   Speaking of sports, 20 shots of Jimmie Johnson doing a burnout really aren't required, especially since I'm a Tony Stewart fan.  Keep a couple good ones, and delete the others.

I love to go on photowalks, but I always need to pare down those images.  I usually shoot a couple hundred photos on each walk.  Don't need all these pepper shots from Alexandria.  Or all these flower shots from an old blog.  Must have been a cold, lonely day at the marina in Elizabeth City when I shot 16 different angles of this bench.  If I'd gone to Psych 101 in college, I might understand why I felt the need to shoot it.

You get the idea here.  You need to clear out some of your images that just didn't work out.  If you take a little time to review the images as you delete them, you can evaluate why they didn't work.  Compare them with the ones that did work that day and store that tidbit of knowledge away for the next time you do something similar.

Sometimes, while you're reviewing images you find a few you'd forgotten.  Always be on the lookout for an image you can use with others.  I shot this last image with a specific purpose in mind.  I remember over-exposing the sky to make it easier to use in a composite.  Now where is that shot of the grandkids in the woods? ;-)