Why Do You Have to Delete Your Photos?

Updated: Jun 6

Continuing the topic about photo organizing, I'd like to reflect on a very sensitive subject: deleting images. Unfortunately, the more photos you have, the less you look at them. Organizing thousands of photographs can be overwhelming. In this article, I give you tips on how to delete your unwanted photographs in a few easy steps.

Why do you need to delete images when there is plenty of storage capacity on your computer or external hard drive?


Because the more photos you have, the less you look at them. It’s just stressful to manage and browse through thousands of photos while adding thousands more on a regular basis. An unorganized photo hub leads to “photo clutter” on your computer, making it harder to ever find and really USE the pictures you love. You need to delete so your photo collection actually becomes manageable. Secondly, uploading 10000 photos for cloud backup takes ages, the same as retrieving all of that data in an emergency.


What photos should you delete?


If you've never got rid of photos on your computer the whole concept to delete something is overwhelming and terrifying. But it is much more to have less photographs you actually look at, than more that rest (in peace) on your hard drive somewhere.


Pro tip: You have to ask yourself WHY you take photos. What do you want to remember? Those are the photos to save.

Think of yourself as a visual storyteller of your life and family. If you have a story to tell with those images, keep them. If they preserve the essence of a moment, if they evoke emotions from you, if they capture moments to remember, keep them. Otherwise, press delete. Don’t be afraid to let go of images that are just taking up space. You can get rid of duplicates taken on the same event by different persons, a few of the same sequence (burst), unflattering or blurry images. No need to keep photos “just in case”.


Using a photo managing/organizing software


I recommend of using a photo managing/organizing software where you can add ratings, color labels, and keywords to each image, even rename or delete your files in a bulk. There are several free software options that help you with this tremendous task.


A few free or very cheap photo managing software you can try:

  • Google Photos

  • Adobe Bridge (no editing possible in free version)

  • digiKam

  • FastStone

  • Magix Photo Manager Deluxe

  • ACDSee Photo Studio Professional

  • StudioLine Photo Basic

  • XnViewMP


This is how you sort through your photos by rating them

  1. Go through the images and decide quickly which one is to keep or not to keep. This is a technical step for me. I only keep the technically good images, so blurry, incorrectly exposed or cropped (very bad composition) images need to go, as well as images of people with closed eyes. No other decisions to make in this step. Put 1* for pictures to keep.

  2. Select the pictures with 1*. Decide which image to keep from a sequence or burst or otherwise duplicates. Choose which expression or look makes a better photograph. Put 2* for pictures to keep.

  3. Now comes the emotional step. Here I choose the ultimate shots of a portrait where the expression is most convincing and the whole picture is compositionally balanced. Looking at my own family images, I ask myself whether it is a photo with a valuable story. You can keep a technically unsuccessful image if it captures a moment worth to remember. Please do keep a photograph that captures your late grandmother with your 3 month old child in her arms even if it is blurry. In these cases emotional value overrides the technicalities. Congrats, you have successfully chosen the best images of a folder. You can move these photographs with 3* to a favorites subfolder for faster access.

  4. Bonus step: go through all the images with no stars. Check them again. You can still save a few of them by giving a *.

  5. Select all the images with no star and press delete. If you are bolder you can even delete all the 1* pictures, too.

Pro tip: After rating and deleting your photos, you can color label the ones you want to edit.

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