Deleting Images - Freedom or Regret?

I clearly remember my first electric guitar. It was from a small British company called Patrick Eggle. It had a small, unpainted, natural wood body. Simple controls, nothing flashy. Perfect for me really. But I sold it. I can't remember why but I do remember regretting the decision as soon as I heard the buyer play it (he was a far better guitarist). I bought another electric guitar soon afterwards, and maybe it's a better guitar, but it isn't the same.

There's a risk in getting rid of something. There's a safety in hoarding or collecting. But also an overhead. Of clutter, complexity, storage.

Should we keep everything? Every image we take? They're only digital files after all. Some people would say yes.

I delete stuff. I like having stuff, new stuff, nice stuff, but I've never liked having too much of it. So I delete some images before they've even left the camera card. I know, some photographers would stare in horror at those words. But if I've got a few minutes spare to look back through some images, for sure there will be some of no value.

What about the learning exercise? Seeing the mistakes and understanding how to improve on them? I can do that from the 'nearly' images, the good ideas that didn't quite work. I'm talking here about the bad ideas, the shots that I know didn't work as soon as I pressed the shutter. Or I knew before pressing the shutter but you just felt the need to make the picture anyway just to be sure.

If there's any potential though, keep the picture. If you're not sure, keep the picture. What you don't like today or tomorrow, you might like in 6 months or a year. And if there's any emotional attachment at all, keep the picture. I don't delete images of family or friends or special moments (unless I happened to take 20 images and they're all virtually the same).

I also think there's a risk in keeping too much. That the gems get lost in the noise. That we have so many images that we never look back through them. Maybe you have a better system than I do but I enjoy looking back through old images and that's much easier if there's less of them, less junk, less of the duplicated or meaningless shots that I might have kept at the time 'just in case'.

I guess the problem is that sometimes we might not know yet whether there is an emotional attachment to an image. That might only become obvious later. Like my guitar. Try to hold on to those. Just in case.