Never delete a photo? Okay, I don’t mean that literally; just don’t do it before you have a VERY good grasp on what a good photo means to you. I have learned this the hard way after I deleted photos from an event or shoot only to wish later that I hadn’t. When you are starting out taking and managing a lot of photos, you may have more valuable photos than you thought. Whether you manage photos in your own folder system or via a software solution, this principle is always exactly the same.
In this video I’m using OnOne Photos to preview the RAW photos from a memory card, mark the ones I like, and then import them to Lightroom. OnOne will be releasing a RAW photo editor and manager later in 2016 presumably to go head to head with Adobe Lightroom as a digital asset management and editing software, and I will definitely be giving it a try. I like a couple of things about previewing and marking my favorite images in OnOne before moving them to Lightroom. My goal is to view the photos from a shoot as quickly as possible; which is what OnOne is so good at, mark the ones that I think I will want to keep in my long term working files, and then copy them into my permanent photo library that I work from. Up to this point, everything is great. The tools do what exactly I want them to do.
So why do I say to never delete a photo? I like to keep things neat and tidy always. Real life isn’t like that and I’m learning to work with the gray areas. Photos that may not be your best are the gray area. Over time your opinion about an image will change. It will. Trust me. Images that you think are a good photo now will horrify you in a year, and images that you see no value in now may come back as a revelation the next time you look at them. Until you have edited and published at least three thousand images, save every image you take. At some point; and you will know when it is, you will recognize images from a shoot that have absolutely no value to you and you can safely delete those. Until you know what that photo looks like that has absolutely no value to you; keep them all.
Your eye today might tell you that the image has no redeeming value, and two years from now you will look at that same photo and see an edit and a crop for the image that makes it a stunner. Give yourself some credit that you saw something intriguing enough to compose and capture the moment. Even if you don’t see a way today to edit that photo properly, save it and come back to it in later months or even years. Did the photo change? Of course not. The way you see the photo as an artist is what will change.