Some thoughts about deleting photos from the master catalog

Many photographers permanently delete rejected images to conserve disk space and maybe also to conserve a little ego (none of us wants to look at our worst images). If you choose to do this, I recommend giving it some time before you do.

During editing it is faster, cheaper, easier and safer to simply hide unwanted photos from view rather than actually delete them. Deleting images in the heat of the moment introduces the risk of accidentally trashing something important. If you wait to do it at a later date you're less likely to make a mistake.

Plus, we can often learn more from our failures than from our successes. Trashing your worst shots right away can cramp your creative development and impede the learning process. Keep the bad photos for a while and take the time later to really understand what worked and what didn't. Think about how you would do it differently next time.

In my twenty-plus years of professional imaging work, managing huge volumes of digital files, there have only been a handful of times when I accidentally deleted something that I shouldn't have. and for which there was no backup. It always happened in the midst of the production workflow, when I was doing several things at once and not paying enough attention to what I was doing. So for now, I keep everything but the most obvious wasted pixels and I go back later to permanently delete photos that really deserve it.

As your image library grows to tens or hundreds of thousands of images, it may become necessary to delete unwanted images in order to save potentially significant amounts of disk space. Plan to come back to your library periodically in the future to re-confirm your editing decisions and delete unwanted files for good. You'll have better perspective with the benefit of hindsight. For now, just use the Lightroom image sources, filters etc. to conceal the images you don't want to work on.

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