Purging

A Snapshot of part of an Aperture project
Digital cameras are great. You can shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and not worry about wasting shots. Storage cards are cheap and plentiful, and the hard drives/SSDs/cloud backup these photos get stored on are also cheap. So why not shoot everything AND keep everything? Because looking through a project where you shot 47 pairs of an arch looking for the right shutter speed and timing of the water is annoying a year later. Because looking through a bunch of crap shots that you kept because maybe you can save one of those 47 pairs in post processing is a lie. There's no way I was going to process all 47 pairs (they're pairs because my camera was set to shoot B&W JPEGs and color RAWs) in search of the best final shot. Now thankfully at some point shortly after import I rated these shots. Basically I only ended up keeping the couple 4 star shots and deleted the rest. Odds are I won't miss those other 45 pairs.

So beyond thinking I could fix everything in post processing (a lie I told myself at the beginning of my journey in photography) the other reason I often keep shots that aren't going to be used in some form or another is because I'll learn from a badly taken shot. Here's the problem with that; I don't often look back on my older work. There are a couple reasons for it, but one of the big ones is because I don't want to look through a project with 300+ shots, where only 10 are keepers. I also find that that feeling of disappointment when I excitedly load up photos of something I shot expecting the Spirit of Ansel Adams to have taken over my shutter finger only to reveal that the exposure wasn't quite right, the focus not sharp enough, or some other little thing, is the best teacher. If it's something I notice I do on a lot of shots at import I'll make a note to myself in Evernote or Google Keep.

Shooting often and a lot is great and a great way to learn. I still do it and enjoy filling up a memory card. It's the only way to learn and practice what you learn. But that doesn't mean you have to keep them all. Let's face it we take a lot more crappy shots than framable shots. Don't be afraid to delete the bad shots, after having learned what made them bad in the first place. And cull out the repetitive shots. Find the 2 or 3 that work best and get rid of the rest. This will make looking over your old work easier and more enjoyable.

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