2016 & The Great Photo Clean Out

I’ve been taking digital photos since 2006 and had amassed a library of nearly 40,000 photos by the end of last year. This is only counting my “professional” photos – those taken with an SLR. Photos taken on our various point and shoots (remember those?) and cell phones are separate. Compared with an actual professional photographer 40,000 is nothing. So far they only take up about 800 GB of space, which really isn’t bad considering the number of years I’ve been shooting (about ¼ are JPEGs which helps too). Still, 40,000 photos is a lot. A lot to sort, a lot to organize, and a lot to search.

Several of the goals in my photographic resolution were aimed at reducing the quantity while increasing the quality of the photos that I take. While I used to pride myself on the number of photos I took in a year now I want to pride myself in the number of photos I don’t take which will be an accomplishment because the ones I do take will be so much better. There will be fewer photos going in, with more quality, but what about the ones that I’ve already got? They need pruned. Not all of them are good, far from it. Many are duplicates. Some are memories of events and such, so those will stay, but anything that is artistic, abstract, or non-memorial needs to be boiled down to its best shots.

I endeavored to complete that mission last year. I decided to go through all of my photos and remove anything extraneous. I started with the years where I took the highest number of images – 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 – and reviewed them one by one, marking the ones that were blurry, duplicative, or just plain “meh” for deletion.

That effort was not without its challenges since 2011 – 2013 included many, many, many photos of the boys that I didn’t want to lose, but it also contained duplicates and bad shots of them that I didn’t need. It took me almost a week but I made it through the entire library and had a several thousand images marked for deletion. I reviewed them with Sally to prove that I wasn’t deleting our children and I was ready to go.

By the end I had deleted about 5,000 photos and saved 140 GB of space. This has made room for all of my Nikon RAW files which are 20-30% larger than my Canon ones. Unfortunately I’m back up to about 800 GB of images again due to the larger size but they’re all for photos that are worth it.

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