18 August, 2014

The Cull

West End, Brisbane

I'm terrible at deleting my unsuccessful photos in Lightroom. Unless an image is an accidental shot of my feet, I seem paralyzed and unable to press the "x" key.

Yes, computer memory is relatively cheap; but as a RAW shooter with 24mp images, each image weighs in at 20-30mb. With a street outing easily yielding a hundred (or more) images, we're talking about at least 2.5 gigs of images.

I don't want to guess at my average number of "keepers." That, however, is another story.

And it's not that I don't have a fallback: When I import my images into Lightroom, I convert to DNGs and save the original files to a separate hard drive. When I delete from Lightroom, the original files are still out there.

Family and vacation pics, of course, are a different thing. I keep most of those for different reasons.

I know what's worthwhile, and what's not. I've just got to toughen up. So here's the plan. If, when I have an image on the screen, someone were to ask, "Watcha got there? If my answer would be, "Ohhhh, nothing," then out it goes.

I'll let you know how that works out.


Bernd Reinhardt said...

Hi Bill,

I know what you mean and the only way to fight this disease is to be incredibly picky about your absolute best photographs. Here is my suggestion: every month, pick a small number, no more than ten, of your absolute best photographs an put them in your "portfolio" folder, the next month add ten more and so on. Then try to edit them down to a portfolio of twenty at the end of the year. This is about the number of photographs you would be exhibiting in a solo show. Once you have selected your absolute best work rigorously, you will have a new standard by which to judge your new snaps, and by that standard, you will feel much more comfortable deleting some photographs you may have thought were pretty good before. It isn't about hard drive space, it is about watering down your own standards with all those photos that are boring or have defects.

Another great piece of advice I learned from Mike Jonston was to make a box of prints and label it as the "when I die, keep this box" portfolio.

Gonzalo Broto said...

I suffer the exact opposite malaise, Bill: as soon as I import all my pictures into my Lightroom catalog, I run through all of them pressing X in all the ones that, for one reason or another, are a failure to me.
Then I run a second cull where, in case I have a few captures that are almost identical, I chose the best or best 2 and delete all the rest (and by deleting I mean totally erasing them from existence).
Only after this is done and the number of pictures remaining is more manageable, I start tagging and processing the best ones.

Bill Danby said...

Bernd, You're wildly overestimating the number of worthwhile photos from a month. Ten is a big number for me.

Gonzalo, I envy you your focus and the economy of that.