What a week! We survived Sandy, but it caused major schedule disruptions, at home and at work, and that impacted our blogging. I, finally, got a few minutes to relax in Lightroom and realized it was time for my annual photo purge. With all the photos you take piling up, you should take stock of your library and, occasionally, prune out the ones you'll never use. I delete the pruned photos from the hard drive because, with my libraries over 100,000 images, I just don't need the extra mess. I've met several photographers who just remove images from their databases, but keep their entire library. Well, storage has never been cheaper, but, if you remove photos from your library and leave them on your hard drives, how will you ever find those photos? You make the decision for your library.
The easiest place to start looking is an event where you had to keep your finger on the shutter button because you didn't know what was going to happen. For example, Mark has some crazy neighbors who put on a remarkable 4th of July fireworks display. We were there to enjoy them. Since I had no I idea what they how they would look, I shot tons of photos, focused and usable, but do I need all of them? I can't even get all of them on the screen when I view tiny thumbnails.
I'll keep my favorites. You never know when I'll need one for a composite image or something. But, unless there is an unlikely shortage of fireworks at big events, I'll probably always be able to get more, next year.
Another area to look for unneeded photos is something you witnessed, considered interesting, but the photos' impact may depend on the viewer knowing the back story. The last time we were up in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, we witnessed an ice fall from beginning to end. I caught it on my camera, and a travel companion caught the entire thing on video. It began about 3,000 feet up the glacier and many tons of ice cascaded down to the bay, creating waves that really bounced the 80' boat we were on.
It was an awesome experience. We had our eye on the ice shelf for 30 minutes before it actually fell. The ice flow continued for several minutes. Yet, the single photos just can't capture what we felt while we were there. As you look at a couple of the images I'll keep, you can't get a feel for the immense scale, amount of ice, or noise that happened during the ice flow. For someone who didn't have me to narrate, it's a photo with a bunch of ice, but not much real interest. They just aren't good enough to stand on their own. You have to be able to separate yourself from the experience when you edit your own photos. Here are a couple of the ice flow beginning and the impact on the bay.
As you go through your images, you'll find all kinds of reasons to prune them down. Why do I have a photo of a bingo game? I always take pictures of signs at historic sites and interesting places on photowalks, but why did I take three shots of the same sign? If you internalize the lessons you learn from this exercise every year, you can take fewer photos in the future that will be deleted later. Turn on some music; use that extra hour of rest you got from the Daylight Savings switch (you did remember to set your clock back, right?); and go through your images.