“Delete” is one of the most useful buttons, both on your camera and on your computer. And you shouldn’t be afraid to use it if a photo is mediocre—since in the end it will help you get better.
Nobody becomes a good photographer overnight. For every professional photo you see, thousands of failed photos ended up in the trash. Learn to sort through your photos and delete the bad ones—and not just because it’ll clean out your collection. There are many more reasons:
1. You’ll save card space and disk space
You won’t be showing off your bad photos, so why not just delete them? Blurry photos, dark photos, or photos with blowout don’t belong on your card or your disk. Nobody will appreciate them. So just throw them out; you’ll save gigabytes, and you’ll take better pictures later on.
2. You’ll make your collection easier to work with
By throwing out bad photos, you also make your collection easier to work with. And when you come back to your photos in the future—maybe because you’re looking to print your best photos—you’ll quickly and easily find what you’re looking for.
Get your archive organized—using ratings, keywords, and colored labels. You’ll find guides for this in these articles:
3. You’ll see your missteps and your steps forward
Every time you press “delete,” you’ll have to justify why you want to get rid of the photo and what is wrong with it. Take note of your mistakes—things like blurry faces, overexposed skies, half-cropped legs, columns growing out of peoples’ heads, and bad composition. Would you do better to step a little to the right? Or maybe kneel?
Only on your computer do you really see the mistakes that get overlooked during the shot and in the viewfinder. Then next time, catch these problems before you press the trigger.
Learn to look longer at the scene in front of you and think about the picture you want to take. Only press the trigger after you’re done thinking. It’s not enough to just take one photo after another and hope that at least one out of fifty will be good.
And what’s more—if you delete your bad photos regularly to pick out the best, say, ten out of a hundred, in time you’ll see that you’re getting better as a photographer. It may be step by step, but it will be there. Compare your photos from five years ago with your photos from today—do you see the progress?
4. You’ll find new topics
Besides your progress, sorting through your photos will also show you your topics—the ones that you photograph the most often—as well as what you can still improve to move up in photography. Maybe you’ll get a completely new and original idea to work on that will get lots of people to look at your photos.
5. You’ll save time on editing
What are your most common photo edits? Cropping? Adjustments to exposure, color temperature, or perspective? Whatever they are, start keeping them in mind before you shoot, until you don’t even need them.
6. You won’t bore your friends
Do you enjoy going through your friends’ Facebook albums with hundreds of photos from a single spot? I sure don’t. I’d rather look at an album with just six photos, each one more interesting than the last. Show the world your best photos only, and earn your friends’ admiration.
Bad photos belong in the bin
Don’t be afraid to delete photos that you didn’t get right. After all, you’ll take more. Create a special folder with the best pictures and browse through them occasionally. It may make you think about what you’d like to photograph differently next time, and how.