A few months ago I was getting ready to backup my computer when I noticed my folder of old pictures that was over 400GB. It contained everything that I shot on my rebel, a few different point & shoots, and all photomanipulations. Over 300 gigs were from my rebel alone and something had to be done.
When I got my Macbook Pro in late July of 2012 I made sure all my photos on my PC’s hard drive were all in the same folder with a corresponding Lightroom 3 catalog. That way I could move one folder to my Mac’s external drive and get setup in a few minutes. I decided just after doing this that I should probably just start with a fresh catalog on my Mac and institute a new folder structure.
Previously, I had neglected to import from my memory cards straight into Lightroom (for reasons I’ll never know). All my photos were still referenced from my old catalog but it would’ve taken ages to rename and move 2 years of new folders from the days of my rebel. I just moved my photos and forgot about them after I made a new catalog. I shot and shot until I was within a couple hundred gigs of a full hard drive again. Since I didn’t really want to buy another hard drive quite yet, I decided I cleaning out some of my old photos to save on space. This was probably the best thing I could’ve done because I ended up with hundreds and hundreds of gigs of free space again.
Looking back, I must’ve been mad to save every single picture I took on my rebel. There’s no need to hang onto 40,000 photos. All I had to do was open up my old LR3 catalog and start scrolling through the library panel. I made sure I saved all the photos I had uploaded online or had been in an exhibition or I deemed worthy of keeping. By doing this I was able to cut my old catalog down to only a few thousand photos. It’s not often I recommend that a photographer start deleting pictures but if you’re saving all the blurry ones or ones you know you’re never going to do anything with then why keep them.
So, probably once a month or so, I go through all the things I shot in the last four to five weeks and decide what to keep. The only things I don’t touch are photos that I haven’t gone through and started editing, whether it’s for me or for a client. But if I’ve taken 500 photos in a shoot that month and already starred and flagged or otherwise finished and delivered the final images, then I’ll delete almost everything else.
This isn’t something you absolutely need to do but unless you’re some kind of godsend photographer and every single photo from a shoot you do is mindbogglingly amazing and unique then you can probably stand to edit down your library or at least all your photos from the previous year.