Do you save your "rejected" photos?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by justinweiss, May 3, 2009.

  1. So let's say you shoot a hundred photos and get 10 real "keepers". Do you delete the other 90, or keep them on your hard drive? It seems like it should be a no-brainer to delete them, but I find myself saving pretty much everything I shoot except for completely ruined pictures (like completely out of focus, etc.)
  2. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Personally, I delete them. But I understand the argument that storage is cheap and you might want to go back. For me, the images I delete are obviously unusable for me (out of focus etc). But there are those who never throw anything away (even their old newspapers). To each his own.
  3. I tend too keep all the pictures except the really bad ones. georg
  4. "but I find myself saving pretty much everything I shoot except for completely ruined pictures (like completely out of focus, etc.)"
    I'm more-or-less the same: most of my deletions are in-camera. Once I've copied them over to my computer, the only thing I'll delete is total screw-ups: shots of feet, etc. Or once in a while if there's two shots of one subject and one's totally blurred, out-of-focus. Even then often I won't bother, just keep them all.
    That said, I'm very low volume, and these are just personal.
  5. I keep most everything except obvious screwups (lens cap on, left camera on "manual", forgot to change ISO, etc). But even with those, I only delete them if I think about it. All things considered, hard drive space is cheap.
    And you never know when a photo you thought was junk might turn out to be important later. The most obvious example of this is Dirck Halstead's photo of Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky:
    While we aren't all likely to be in the position Dirck was, on some level it does apply to all of us.
  6. As already mentioned storage is cheap so I keep everything except the obvious screw ups such as totally out of focus or whatever.
    Shots that are only a bit OOF can still be used to mess around with in PS but for the most part I keep pretty much all (99%?) of my shots. Of course only the top 1% I'll post to my site. If the shot I posted isnt all that great its because I only got one or two shots of that subject/time and even though not the best, it was the only shots I got.
    I also shoot RAW+jpg so I'm saving two copies per photo I guess. I suppose I could start shooting RAW only....? Awww, storage is cheap...
  7. I tend to delete all my pictures! :)
  8. ALL??
    Why take any then!?!
  9. i rarely delete any thing, except as others indicated those that are of the ceiling.
    sometimes i will get an idea about how to process an image that i wasn't wild about, and also with time, interest and appreciation changes.
    that doesn't mean i use or work on everything taken, but since i only shoot in raw , i only convert an image i may use.
    i also keep 4 copies of everything which means separate external hard drives, but that is my decision. I recommend to my students that they have at least two copies but don't expect them to do 4.
  10. The only RAW files I delete are the truly unusable ones - really bad exposure, focus, or other issues.
    At the end of the year I revisit my shots from the previous months and I often find several that I overlooked or didn't "see" in the right way earlier. Disk storage space is cheap - I'd rather err on the side of caution.
  11. I find it's more trouble to delete any "original" images than just pay the price in a bit more backup space and time. I copy the initial "keepers" to a working directory and process them. Often I'll send a set of every shot to an editor/client for them to pick the ones they like.
  12. Max, if you don't, your kids will, sooner or later: know what you mean ;)
  13. Storage may be cheap but time is money and finite. Unless there's an actual chance that a redundant image will be needed at some point, it goes. Sorting through needless and redundant rejects, even for a short time is just not worthwhile. At least to me.
    If I cannot tell if something might be needed I'll let it stay in hard drive storage then revisit like Dan does. Then I decide if they go on the needless and/or redundant list again. Picture with people in them are less likely to make the list for various reasons.
  14. I save rejected photos for about six month and then review again. I edit them down and look at them again in another few months before deleting for good.
  15. I never delete the original...and yes, I also back up all originals. I just figure, I never "deleted" any film originals, why should I want to delete a digital original? It don't take up that much room, especially at today's Hard Disk and DVD prices. Plus, I've had way too many that I come back later and find to be much better than I originally thought.
    As far as it being too hard to sift thru a mass of digital files that are not that good to get to the truely good ones................try doing it with film/contact is way easier in that respect.
  16. I happily delete about 50%-70% of the images I take. My personal opinion is, that cheaply stored and cheaply backuped junk still ist junk.
  17. Rejects are rejects - gone forever! Junk is junk! Too much data, too much confusion, it drags down the quality of your work, it keeps you back from raising your standards, it creates unnecessary extra work, makes archiving, organizing, renaming more time-consuming and difficult.
  18. I always seem to find it difficult to delete an original but i do have storage problems particularly when i'm traveling (which is 80% of the time).
    But this raises another question how do you store your raw files? what system do you use to find and retrieve the photos more easily? i find keep filing them by date of shoots but that becomes very difficult to find if i dont remember exactly when i took the shot i'm looking for. There must be a better system, and /or software to file and retrieve photos
  19. Brett: Absolutely agree!
    I'm not an insanely organized person. I try, but it's too much time and effort to deal with the rejects if I leave them hanging around. The thing with digital is that it encourages you to press the button because it's just data, not some irreversible chemical reaction taking place on some tangible substrate. It's so much easier to record vast quantities of information that the flip side is you actually end up taking a lot more photos than you would have if you were using film. There's nothing wrong with culling some of those shots. That doesn't necessarily mean you only keep the best few images, but it does mean you make a decision right away whether or not you're going to deal with it, rather than leave it lying around only to confuse you later--as in, which of the 50 different versions of this one subject did I like the most? Maybe that's what photo organizing software is for, but I've never really felt like checking a box or giving a picture a five-star rating does much for my perceptual sanity--I still have to wade through all the other junk shots somewhere. It's just better to be done with them.
    Don't look back. Look forward. That thing you're holding in your hands is a camera, not a time machine.
  20. One of the joys of digital photography for me is it encourages me to shoot away without worrying about what the outcome will be. If I don't like the image, it's deleted. Of course, I'm not shooting a presidential event either.
  21. I don't delete nearly enough. Occasionally I go on a rampage and cull, but the task has become so daunting that I am shoveling sand against the tide.
  22. I delete when I'm running low on disk space. With storage getting cheaper, it is more expensive to take the time to cull than to leave the files on the drive--unless they are obviously worthless.
    It is probably more rational to take the time to "clean house" from time to time, but I find myself doing that less and less.
  23. I usually keep all except the obviously out-of-focus ones, mainly because I've been too lazy to go through all my image folders to review and delete all the non-keeper images.
  24. Well, if I determine a photo as "rejected".... :)
    Seriously, if you're stuck, you could keep a seperate library of the rejected or iffy stuff, so they won't get in the way of your daily tasks, and keep you working library light, fast and useable.
  25. I keep everything on DVD and hard drive backup. I might do some deletions in camera of shots that are completely bad, other than that I keep everything. I hoard every other type of film/photo so why not digital as well? :) If the photos are project related I will tend to delete more. If they are family related then I keep them no matter what. Anything that is very important to me gets printed on glossy paper as well. I suppose I'll drown in prints before I run out of hard drive space.
    You never know if you might find something useful in your rejects at a later date. I have gone back through old stuff and found shots that I like, but rejected because they didn't fit what I was looking for at that time. Sometimes a shot doesn't stand up on it's own as a photo but is a good intergration into another piece of art work. Also, when ever I am feeling down about the work that I am doing, I'll go back and look at photos that I took 6 months to 1 year in the past and compare. That usually recenters my attitude.
  26. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    While storage is cheap, one issue I find is the size of location drives. That is, while back in the office, I can have huge drives that contain all my Raw's and LR data, I often want to take the library on location and that means a buss powered portable drive. Currently I believe they max out at about 500gigs. I only want on library until such a time that LR barfs on too many images. I'm not close to that amount even if you believe those who say that limit is in the 100,000 image range. Multiple libraries don't work for me because I find that when looking for images, its always in the other library. If such a time comes that LR could open multiple libraries at once, I might change this tactic. So, considering the size of even DNGs off my 5DMII, and the limit on portable drives, I have no issues tossing images I'm sure are losers.
  27. I wonder how everyone ends up with so many shots they want to possibly delete. I think maybe its time to re-evaluate how you shoot. Unless i am taking shots of fast action, like drag racing, I dont end up with with many OOF shots... just because you can take 6 fps doesnt mean that you have to and if one of those shots is the "keeper" then maybe focus on only snapping that one or maybe two shots of your subject.
    Only my two cents. I keep everything...
  28. Too many crappy images clog my mind, so I only like to keep the winners (remind me again before I buy another hard drive!)
    The only time I keep all my images is vacation trips.
  29. bms


    Used to keep more then thought: what the heck. The bad, the boring, the missess... gotta go. I keep most images when I shoot an event or such, but otherwise, I do not see much point. I keep a DVD and hard drive copy, so that adds up. Pls, I do a digital contact sheet, as I still like to look at a real image, and it helps me find stuff that is sitting in thecloset.
  30. "...With storage getting cheaper, it is more expensive to take the time to cull than to leave the files on the drive..."......exactly. The time it would take me to cull out the rejects, I could edit, and probably print, every keeper on a particular shoot. And I'm talking an intelligent well thought out culling............not the gut reaction one.
    Seriously, at $150 for a 1TB external hard drive, and say I get around 120,000 RAW Canon 5D files on that (you would get more, but that's a low estimate just for arguements sake).........that's 1/8th of 1 cent USA per file. And say my time is worth a cheap $20/hr....I'd have to delete 16000 images an hour. That's 4.5 images a second.......just to break even. If that's expensive storage space...I'll pay it.
    Hope I got all that math right ;-) still early for me.
  31. Am I missing something? I put my questionable shots on a disk. Is this not a good idea?
  32. Unfortunately, yes. Even have thousands of bad film images. Just canโ€™t seem to part with even a bad image.
  33. Seriously, at $150 for a 1TB external hard drive, and say I get around 120,000 RAW Canon 5D files on that (you would get more, but that's a low estimate just for arguements sake).........that's 1/8th of 1 cent USA per file. And say my time is worth a cheap $20/hr....I'd have to delete 16000 images an hour. That's 4.5 images a second.......just to break even. If that's expensive storage space...I'll pay it.​
    But how much time are you taking to search through and decide which of those images you want to print to begin with? If I've got that many images, I *have* to be able to pick some to edit. You also have to consider that as the data ages, you need to migrate it and keep it current. I've got really old images that have been organized using old programs, and it would have been much easier to migrate them into my current system and formats if I had just kept the ones I cared about.
  34. like most of people here I delete only total garbage like blured, wrong WB, over or totally underexposed, and keep the rest , I have two 500Gb external harddrives and I don't shoot professionally so thats plenty enough for me.
  35. Keep them all... On occasion I have gone back to old photos that I originally thought were "bad" and then realized that I could work with them. Disk space is cheap (A few months ago I bought a 1.5TB disk for less than $150, probably cheaper now). Finding an interesting shot... priceless. Of course, you should feel free to delete all your photos if you like. They are your photos, and there is no right or wrong here. -Dan
  36. Get rid of them! I have been an avid race car photographer for nearly 40 years. There is a lot of wasted shots when you have this kind of photographic interest and came to this conclusion years ago; that a crappy picture in 1975 is a crappy picture in 2009! Put your best foot forward and don't worry about trying to save maginal or junky pictures, it just takes away from your good ones.
  37. Glad to see I am not the only one who tends to keep all the pics, except for the bad ones of course. Just starting out and always thought that it is better to hold on to the good and bad ones, one can learn from both and perhaps find some use for the not so good ones.
  38. I'm big on deleting.. I delete, delete and delete some more!
  39. I keep tje keepers and " May good posibility" caregoty. Of the onse I keep I save their raw as well. Rest are deleted.
  40. I delete the really bad ones in camera. The rest go on my hard drive to be sorted later. There are some that I consider that technology or newly acquired skills may be able to improve in the future so I keep those. On average I hold on to 20-30 percent of what I save to my computer.
  41. And you never know when a photo you thought was junk might turn out to be important later. The most obvious example of this is Dirck Halstead's photo of Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky:​
    It is also important to note that he was shooting on film and thus retained the negatives/slides. This was a time when many PJ's were going over to digital, and I remember Dirck making a comment (not in the article you link, but another) about how if he had been shooting digital, he probably would have deleted the photo.

    Here is a quote from the article that I found interesting:
    "I hired a researcher, and she started to go through the piles of slides in the light room. After four days, and more than 5,000 slides, she found ONE image, from a fund-raising event in 1996. "
  42. EDIT: He did also make the comment in the linked article. What I meant was that I had seen the comments in other articles.

    As far as the OP goes, I keep almost everything, except the real botches like OOF, leaving camera on manual and forgetting to dial in my exposure, etc. I can't count how many times I have gone back to an image folder and found more images I liked that I had not flagged as keepers first run.
  43. I have to agree with digital and technology making selection/rejection easier.
    I shoot several projects a week, and I use Lightroom to manage it all. I have two databases, a master for the keepers, and I start a new one for each project (which literally flies). Using shortcuts keys I can plow through 1000 pics in minutes. If I like one, it gets the "B" key and goes into quickpic. I only spend a few moments per shot. It has to hit me, or the client whom is also watching.
    I then revisit the quickpics and rate, with the obvious junk out of the way, I'm now looking for my best. I then select the ones with no rating and delete them. Bye-bye, they won't be missed. I won't remember them. I feel no pain. I import the selects into my master database.
    I have a friend whom shoots races, and he describes the dilemma of having stacks upon stacks of boxes of unorganized negs, prints, and slides. He just bought LR and I feel his pain. Scanning can be a lonely life. Choosing will be a task. Each neg will be hands on, and certainly conjur memories. Other than technically bad shots, he might keep'em all.
    I have relatives whom threatened to bring me their negatives and help digitize. I plan to buy scanners as gifts.
    To answer the OP more directly, if you keep it, it's a select.
  44. I mark my keepers with ratings stars, but I don't delete the rest of the images. Later on, it's not uncommon to discover that I preferred one of the alternate shots.
    I'm a very harsh critic immediately after capture when I'm prone to compare images to a set of pre-shot expectations rather than rate them for their own merit. Weeks or months later when I've forgotten those expectations, when I've lost track of all of the fussy little technical issues that didn't quite work out as planned, when the mosquito bites and blisters and extreme weather have faded from memory, I can sit back and appreciate each image for what it is and what it has to offer.
    Deleting files early in the review process? That's a very bad idea for anyone who's half as impulsive as I am.
  45. I did with film, but not for very long with digital......Jim
  46. I'm a pack rat and keep everything even though I am shooting RAW. But I tend to put everything aside then make a copy of it in another folder and then just look at and edit the copy which will contain significantly fewer images than the original. Even with the sheer volume that I shoot (I probably even rival the pros that shoot constantly) I find that I only have a couple external hard drives even though I have duplicate copies of many files.
  47. i delete the frustrated ones, otherwise i keep many of them for experimenting with design softwares...that i found very useful.
  48. I keep never know what some a little imagination can do!
  49. "Keepers" will vary with the individual, as in experience or creativity and photoshop (formerly darkroom) expertise... In the early years back in 1937 I'd have 3-4 per 20 exposure roll. (9-20 per hundred) After graduating from NYI of Photography that went up to 16-20 per 20 exposure roll. Today rejects are even lower, as all are carefully composed in the frame, seldom do I even crop an image much.
    The more experience or knowledge you have, the fewer the mistakes and you just automatically create better images. Now my only rejects are usually almost exact shots of the same subject, where one may be slightly better than the other.
    But, still I keep them, for you never know what may befall an image. Files can be corrupted on a HD, a piece of magnetic media can flake off as the drive ages, etc... So even virtually exact duplicates of good shots in my opinion are worth saving.
  50. I save everything because they are all perfect!))) lol... seriously, I delete the really bad ones sometimes. Occasionally, one that is very low on my 'keeper' list, someone would like to have a copy....and it is a great feeling to provide it to them and also I keep because of the time it would take me 2-3 months after a shoot to decide which ones to keep or toss. On the other hand, I use Aperture for workflow and when I pull up the project, I only see my keepers anyway. The rest are transparent to me, unless I want to dig for them a bit.
  51. More and more, I'll edit with the camera and delete garbage on the spot. Of what I bring home, I usually keep 70 - 80%. I file photos by "event name date" and consolidate whenever possible (one folder for Thanksgiving - separate subfolders for the years.) Adobe's Bridge makes searching for folders by text very easy. Of the 70 - 80% of the photos that I keep, I save some in a "Digital Alterations Candidates" folder. I experiment with these and many times, paint with perfectly wonderful textures found in otherwise loser photos. I invested in an excellent 1 Tetrabyte external hard drive and have Mac's Time Machine auto-backing me up continuously. And then I can walk out the front door and slip on a banana peel :)
  52. Alberta, doing that is hard on the Flashcard.
  53. Garbage in, garbage out. When I know not even Photoshop can save a photograph I delete it.
  54. Re Alberta..... I suggest investing in 2 TB drives...and I never use the vault...don't quite know how it is working. Anyway I think they are actually a bit cheaper per TB.. or a 4TB raid 5 system such as Drobo Gen II. I actually use the Drobo as my primary image drive and archive to Western Digital 2 TB drives.And then again a portable drive that can residue outside the physical location of my primary system. Requires lots of attention to backing up... but then, it is all relative to how important your pictures are to you. Three copies and at a minimum and dispersed.
  55. I cull the bad (mis-focussed, motion-blurred, etc) shots right away after a shoot. Then as I'm working through the rest, I'll delete the extra copies. I've also been going back and deleting old stuff that isn't up to my new standards.
    It's so easy for me to go re-shoot most of what I am doing that there's no reason to keep everything, unless it's a specific themed shoot that would be hard to recreate. Found scenes, I hold no love for bad ones.
  56. A simple matter, delete the rejected ones and then question your sanity on the saved ones. UNLESS, you are shooting in RAW format! Then you will want to take some time with your decisions.
  57. Get rid of the crappy ones, the ones you know you will never print and you realize you are wasting time looking at it. You know the ones, blurred, out of focus, nothing worth using in them even if you cropped them. This will make life easier when you go looking through photo files.
    Keep the best ones, even the fair ones if they have centimental, family shots and friends...burn it all to CD or DVD to back up. Only keep the best on the hard drive till you are done.
    Nothing is more of a waste of time, than trying to put together a scrap book or photo show and having to look through thousands of crap shots that you don't want and now you are looking at that bad shot a second time and you still don't want it. Why didn't you delete it the first time.
    Here is some are downloading a great photos shoot or video and you start seeing that Hard Drive Space is getting low warning. Now you have to stop what you are doing and start making decisions of what to burn, what to trash...and you should have just trashed the trash the first time around. Save the frustration and learn to let is empowering. In the end you will just have a lot of better shots to look back on.
    Best of luck.
  58. Returning from a photoshoot, I copy all images from the CFcards to the harddisk, and make a CD/DVD copy of them. I save this CD/DVD as a "1st line of defence" in case of a sudden diskcrash, or a file deletion made too fast....
    After burning the images to the CD/DVD, I start culling the images, saving only the keepers on the harddisk. I rarely go back looking for deleted images, but if i should have the need, I can get them from the CD/DVD.
  59. As others have said I delete the obvious -- out of focus, extremely bad exposure, etc. But having spent much of my life in the newspaper world, I keep everything beyond that. You never know when that frame of the President with an anonymous brown haired woman in a beret along the rope line a month ago is going to turn out to be valuable. (We all remember Monica Lewinsky, don't we?) In a more commonplace scenario, that ho-hum, slightly crooked shot of the drunk old man in the background from the wedding you shot this weekend might turn out to be the family's last picture of Uncle Harry alive. You just never know what shot that looks worthless might have value to someone later. File cabinet space was cheap in the film days and hard drive space has gotten even cheaper today, so why not keep it all?
  60. Shoot film and just put them away. How hard is that?
  61. I save my rejected negatives, because I've found that I like images today that I didn't a few years ago. I enjoy taking old negs into the darkroom, every now-and-then.
  62. Justin
    As a young man, 40 years ago, I was sent down to Antartica with the Navy support group. I loved photography back then and I loved to take pictures of anything I could. I soon had an unwieldy collection of nearly one thousand images taken in Antartica, New Zealand and over the Southern Ocean separating the two land areas. I read an article in a photo magazine in which the author described his method of "culling" images just as soon as he got them back from the photo finisher. He would examin each one, inspecting with a loupe if necessary, and anythnig that was not ready for his stock portfolio went directly into the wast basket, never to bother him again.
    I took this to heart and went through my collection of one thousand images and saved out 100 that I though were fabulous. The rest were "defective" for many different reasons, from way out of focus, to barely out of focus, or because the composition was goofy or because it really was just a picture of a bunch of guys goofing off. I was ready to throw the 900 "no good" slides into the trash, when a squadron mate stopped me. He said he did even have a camera, and didn't care if any of the pictures were out of focus. He would like to have all of them. So I let him have them.
    To this day I am so sorry that I did that. The pictures that I would treasure the most today are the goofy ones of my squadron mates and other other personnel I met while in Antarctica. The 100 I kept are really nice, but they are mostly landscapes, devoid of many people. Now when I review pictures, I toss the ones where I have multiple views and one or two are off in exposure, focus, or other basic element. If its the only image in the set I keep it. I never know what I am going to do with the images until years later. Then I will make up a photo book, do some enlargements, make up a scrapbook for the grand kids, or whatever I want. The storage is cheap; the peace of mind is priceless.
    mike spencer
  63. Don't get me wrong...I love digital, but I also think it has given us the chance to replicate the monkey typing Shakespeare. I read on forums about people having 40,000 files taken in one year! How can you not get a few keepers from that output? As an old film shooter perhaps I tend to give a little more thought to each frame and less to just snapping the shutter.
    I suppose it all depends on what you want from photography: a record, a 'work', or a sale. And, yes, I delete.
  64. I only delete:
    1. Very poorly exposed images (very rare) [more than 2 stops over/under exposed]
    2. Badly focused or a way wrong shutter speed (rare)
    3. Very unflattering image of a person
    All else are keepers. You NEVER know in the future and disk space is Super Cheap.
  65. it


    From each job I generally chuck away 80% of the stuff. I usually give the client 10% of the keepers and hang onto the other 10% for safety
  66. david_henderson


    I tend to delete about 50% of what I bring home, which probably means about 65% of what I take. The criteria are really quite simple. Can I see any way in which I might use an image in the future? If it has any significant imperfection, is a duplicate or near duplicate or a bracket, or it just seems dull or trivial, then its gone. Sadly it does sometimes take a little while to determine which of a series of similars I like best.
    I hear all the arguments about "you never know" etc but the fact is that in about 14 years of pretty serious photography I have not once had cause to regret throwing out an image and I have thousand upon thousands of "keepers" that I have never looked at since the week or so after they were made. Getting rid of the worst is a cathartic experience, and it makes the stuff I keep seem so much better

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