Learning what constitutes a good and usable photo is a hard-learned skill for photographers. At first, I wanted to keep every photo taken. Now, many years later, I'm learning that less is more.
My method of choice is Lightroom. Far from perfect, but probably the most utilized program for keeping a photo library. As an amateur, whatever is used most has major benefits. When I first installed Lightroom and learned a few basics, I quickly reduced the number of my images by half in a few weeks.
How do you reduce the number of images by half and never miss any of them?
- Find duplicate images and remove those.
- Quickly browse and remove poor photos.
- Find images that just aren't appealing or useful and remove them.
- Why not use Bridge? If Adobe Bridge is all that you have, by all means use it. The basic idea is the same, it's just that Lightroom has so many other benefits later on after you get over a steep learning curve with Lightroom. Bridge is no picnic either, but it does come with Adobe Photoshop at no extra cost.
Bad images are a liability because:
- They take up space on a hard drive. That increases the cost of storage and takes more time to back them up.
- They make it more difficult to search for good images. When you search for good images,you have to fish through so many bad that it's a chore and wastes time.
I have developed some quick guidelines for keeping a photo, but I keep adding to them as time goes on.
- Would I print this photo? If it's not worth printing, it might not be worth keeping.
- What is the point of this photo? No point, no point in keeping.
- Has it sat on the hard drive without being organized yet. If it's not worth the time to organize and keyword, is it really worth keeping?
- What would I pay for this image if I needed for an article? If I would pay much, I delete it.
- Sentimental value? If so, keep it, but organize it as such.
- Do I have others that are similar? If so, delete the worst of them.
- Is it worth uploading? If it's not worth uploading to a website, it probably isn't worth keeping.
- Is it worth basic edits in Photoshop? If it's not worth the time, it might not be worth keeping.
I waited far to long before I started realizing the benefits of learning to edit. Deleting is pain and pain is a good teacher. I take fewer bad photos now simply because I don't want to delete them. Editing is an easy way to build on skills. Take the time to listen to the professional editors even if you're not trying to sell your photos. It's free advice that will improve your overall portfolio.