Do You Still Delete Photos?

Do You Still Delete Photos?

It wasn’t that long ago that storage space on digital cameras was precious enough that getting rid of images you weren’t sure about was part of the process. But with automatic uploading and high-capacity cards, is that even necessary any more?

Camera picture from Shutterstock

For more, the beauty of digital cameras has always been that you can take multiple versions of a shot to be sure you have a good one. That benefit comes with a responsibility though: you need to take time dumping the ones that don’t work. I’ve always had the habit of going through photos and dumping the unwanted ones, either in a spare moment on the road using the camera itself or on my computer when sorting and editing.

I was doing just that during a media trip for Panasonic’s Lumix launch last week when a fellow journalist suggested it was odd behaviour. “Nobody deletes anything any more — storage is cheap,” he said. He might have a point. Even on mobile phones with constrained capacity (hello, iPhone), I know plenty of people who store every single photo they own.

So I’m wondering: where do Lifehacker readers sit on this? Are you happy to simply keep everything, or is orderly sorting still part of your process? Tell us in the comments.


  • I generally don’t. Sometimes when taking pictures, whether on holiday or just in normal life. If I notice right away a photo’s bad, I may delete straight away. Many times I just take a lot. Then later pick out the good one if I ever want to use it for anything, post it anywhere.

    On holidays, sometimes I may go through pictures at the end of the day, but generally no. Time is precious and I don’t need to worry about storage. I just spent three months in africa and took 20,000 + pictures. I randomly pulled some out and posted online. However eventually I will have a copy of all these pictures. Go through and delete all the bad ones or multiples. Have a directory of the best shots. Which will still probably be 1000s. I will still however keep all the pictures I took backed up somewhere. With some vague idea I may one day want to look through them or need them.

  • I delete photos all the time.
    A recent 1 week holiday saw me deleting photos because my 16GB card was full. That was after my 4GB card filled up.

  • I’m shooting to two cards simultaneously, so deleting in camera is a non-starter. But I’m ruthless once they’re on the PC. It’s called editing, but most people don’t have a clue about it.

  • If I take a photo and I know it’s poor, I delete it right away. Same if I’m going through my photos and notice a bad one. Just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you need to fill it with crap. I suspect a lot of the people who never delete things are the same people who have messy, cluttered houses.

  • I’m purely an amateur hobbyist. I generally get 100-300 photos per “event”, 300-600 per outing give or take at 18-24MB/photo from my Canon EOS 60D. 300 18MB photos per day is 5.4GB, 600 24MB photos is 14.4GB.

    If I only do one outing a month, that’s 64.8GB – 172.8GB per year. I try to do one outing per month as an absolute minimum, but some months without even trying I do 8+ outings.

    Default Apple Photostream is 5GB, which means I couldn’t even fit one outing on it if I didn’t delete things first.

    Instead I only upload the jpg’s of my photos, after they’ve been sorted (with the majority deleted) and postproduced (brightness adjusted/cropping/aligning done). I try to do nothing more to my photos as I prefer them to remain photos rather than digital art based off photos (such as instasmudges etc).

    I also do something that will make most pro hobbyists and professionals gasp in horror. Once I’ve done all sorting & post production, I delete my raw files leaving only the post-produced jpg’s which come it at roughly 5MB each.

    In the end, I then sync all final-product jpg’s and photos from all other devices (phone, tablet etc) to my phone and the last 12 months of photos on my phone currently occupy 2.5GB of space, though iPhoto does only give iPhones a smaller quality/size version of all images. My iPhoto library all up is currently 47GB and only goes back to 2011. Particular events are exported to albums and synced to Facebook and Flickr.

  • I hesitate before even taking a photo, as most of the time I don’t want a screen in between me and a memorable experience. The number of photos I take is directly proportional to the quality of camera I have on me, but even if I borrow a DSLR it’s never very many.

    And in all cases, I’m a ruthless deleter. With the obvious exception of artists and professionals, the purpose of photos is to evoke a memorable time or event. Some time after I come back from an event (a few months after holidays, say) I enjoy reliving the experiences through photos and stitching together panoramas. But often I encounter a group of shots that individually don’t really add a lot to the memory. I will sort them by quality, and by impression, and get rid of those that provide the least enlightenment to the memory.

    I don’t like clutter. 😀

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