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Getting rid of photos
Old 11-20-2011, 05:54 PM   #1
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Getting rid of photos

Someone convince me that it is OK to delete or throw away bad photos or even good photos where I have lots of similar photos.

I have made a major push in the last couple of years to organize photos. I took most of our paper photos and had them scanned in digitally (by a third party company). In general I was very happy with this. When I did that I did weed out the photos that were extremely blurred or really bad. Well, I generally did that -- I had a tendency to keep photos even if bad when there was something in the photo I liked and thought I might crop the photo to keep or where it was the only photo from a particular time period. I still have some paper photos to scan in.

I have a few issues here.

1. Paper photos (or the scans of such photos) that I don't like. For example, today I happened to find a school photo of my son (he is 17) from a few years ago. I seriously detest this photo. It doesn't look at all like he typically looks in real life, has a smile that looks awful and just overall is not appealing to me. It isn't blurred or anything like that...it is just a photo that I would never like to look at. I asked my son if he wanted me to scan it in and he doesn't like the photo either. I asked him if it would be OK if I threw it out and he was cool with it. I actually tossed the entire envelope of photos in the trash, then retrieved it. I just had this (irrational perhaps) feelings that I shouldn't throw it out. It is sort of like I want permission to do it (but I got his permission!).

Anyway -- is there any reason that I have to keep it even though I don't like it? I really only I can answer this but for some reason I agonize over throwing out photos when it doesn't bother me to throw away anything else.

Another example, but a harder choice than the one above. There is an old photo of me with my mother at the Renaissance Fair about 30 years or so ago. It is the only photo I have of the Fair. It is not particularly flattering photo of either of us. It is the only photo I have within a couple of years of the photo. It is the only photo I have of me with the particular hairstyle I have. However, it is a horrid hairstyle. Also, the clothes I am wearing don't look good and it is from a time when I didn't particularly like my weight. I have trouble throwing it out because I have so few photos within that time period.

2. The other issue is digital photos. The last several years I've use a very good digital camera. I don't have to pay for film developing and I'm not a great photographer so I will take lots and lots of photos with the idea that if only a few of them are great then that is fine and I can't get rid of those that are bad. I don't mind deleting those that are blurred. But, otherwise, I find it hard to delete them. Even the ones that are too dark I will keep with the idea that I can use software and make them look better (same thing with red eye or a lot of other defects). But I end up with huge numbers of photos of the same general thing which when I use my photo organizer software to find photos means I have to weed throw lots of similar photos.

To give an extreme example -- some years ago I had an opportunity to take a lot of photos of cheetahs. I took over 200 photos, most of which are good photos. But -- I don't really need 200 cheetah photos. Since they aren't "bad" photos I had trouble deleting them.

I use Photoshop Elements to organize my photos and right now I have roughly 18000 photos in it. When I want to find something -- even with categorizing and tagging photos -- it is tiresome to go throw lots and lots of photos that are very similar.

For these I could:

1. Keep all photos and keep them all organized in Photoshop Elements. -- That is essentially the status quo.

2. Delete those that are blurred or aren't good photos after editing them, then keep all the "good" photos and keep them all organized in Photoshop Elements -- Status quo less the ones I weed out. This would not decrease the volume all that much.

3. Go through and pick out the best few photos of each similar scene (knowing what is similar is difficult at times -- is cheetahs on such and such a day one "scene" or is cheetah eating meat a different scene from cheetah standing still?). So if I had 10 photos that were of the same "scene" - however I define it -- then keep only 2 or 3. Permanently delete the rest.

This is hard for me to do particularly where I like all the photos. We went to Stonehenge this summer and I have 194 photos. Now, there is a lot of variation - photos of the entire circle from the outside, photos inside the circle, close up photos of particular elements. I find it hard to delete any of them although clearly some are better photos than others.

4. Same as 3 in terms of selecting a few photos of each scene but instead of deleting the others just move them out of Photoshop Elements. I could still keep them in a separate folder but they wouldn't be organized with my main photos. I would only see them if I went to look specifically for them by going to that folder.

Anyone have any thoughts on any of this.

Someone -- please convince me it is OK to throw away old school photos or photos of me or other people that I just don't like....
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:19 PM   #2
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The way I see it, you have two choices. You can either:

(1) Make the tough decisions about which to keep and which to throw out. This could be a lengthy process, and nobody can do this for you; or

(2) Scan/keep everything. Then you can put the not-so-good photos in a separate folder if you want to do that. You can always go through them later.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:23 PM   #3
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True.

I think part of it is just wanting to give myself permission to get rid of photos that I don't like....
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
True.

I think part of it is just wanting to give myself permission to get rid of photos that I don't like....
That's so hard to do. I can't seem to do it, anyway. I just struggle and suffer over the decision until I give up. I never seem to get rid of them. I even have duplicates of out-of-focus, blurred photos of my daughter as a baby and can't bring myself to throw them out.

At one point I planned to scan in all my paper photos. Guess I gave up on the project last year, when I donated my scanner to charity. If I had just scanned, scanned, scanned instead of trying to make those tough decisions, I'd have them on a disk by now.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:43 PM   #5
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I have a hard time getting rid of photos myself. So this is what I do: I basically keep a digital copy of all my photos (just in case... ), but then I create separate digital albums to organize my very best photos only.
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:38 PM   #6
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I have no problems tossing out photos that I know I will never ever look at again. I do photography for myself and charitable organizations. I use Zenfolio to distribute photos to other people. I only keep the good photos nowadays and even then I know I will likely never look at them again. I even delete most photos in camera before downloading to Elements.

I have never regretted deleting a photo so far.
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Old 11-20-2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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LOL! You are like my husband. He has no problem with it either. We went to Stonehenge this summer. This was for the viewing where you can go inside the stones so there is a lot more to take pictures of. DH took 23 pictures and I'm sure he would probably end up keeping only a few of them. I took 171 pictures and agonize over getting rid of any that aren't just totally blurry or awful....

Quote:
I have a hard time getting rid of photos myself. So this is what I do: I basically keep a digital copy of all my photos (just in case... ), but then I create separate digital albums to organize my very best photos only.
FD that is probably what I will do with the digital pics. I think I will get rid of those that are just hopelessly bad. Otherwise, I am inclined to move the ones that I just don't like or that I do like but I have others that I like more and will keep them but not put them in my main photo program.

For the paper photos that I still need to scan in I am going to resist scanning in those that are awful.

It is still difficult. DH would just permanently throw out or delete those he didn't like or those he did like but weren't his best photos.
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Old 11-20-2011, 10:40 PM   #8
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For the paper photos that I still need to scan in I am going to resist scanning in those that are awful.
For paper photos, I scanned from the negatives. Even with a decent scanner, scanning and touching up each photo took quite a bit of time so it really forced me to be selective or I would have spent months scanning photos.
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Old 11-20-2011, 10:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
True.
I think part of it is just wanting to give myself permission to get rid of photos that I don't like....
I know how you feel. We have 800+ photos just of the last 78 days of renovating our familyroom. Walking around with a camera is a great excuse to talk story with the contractors without making them feel as if you're looking over their shoulder.

I'm not sure that there's any reason to torture yourself. You might as well keep everything that you feel you can't throw away, and then decades from now let your beneficiaries try to figure out what to do with Mom's 15 hard drives full of photos.

We've been scanning everything, backing it up, and destroying what paper isn't already in a frame. I like being able to print out a photo whenever I want for a coffee mug or a simple 5x7" gift.

We've also been scanning in & tossing out 35mm slides or anything that's not easily viewed by holding in your hand. We also no longer keep film negatives. And pretty soon here I'm going to get rid of our microfiche viewers...
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:22 AM   #10
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For paper photos, I scanned from the negatives. Even with a decent scanner, scanning and touching up each photo took quite a bit of time so it really forced me to be selective or I would have spent months scanning photos.
We did scan from negatives where we could. For a long time I was going to scan everything myself but not making much progress. So finally just decided to have them scanned in by a third party company. On photos where I had negative the advantage of scanning in negatives was that it was easy to package them and, of course, better quality.

We scanned in paper copies when no negatives.

The company we used put everything up online for us to look at and we could delete up to 25% of scans and not have to pay for them (this is because with negatives they would scan in the entire roll).

That worked well and I actually have DVDs of all those scans and I will keep all that. Since then my mother has given me several boxes of old photos that are just paper copies so I'm going through them to decide what to scan it.

Then there are all the digital photos that I've taken so no need to scan.

I'm leaning to throwing out (or deleting permanently) photos that are just flat out bad (blurry, etc.) or that I really hate. For the others that are "good" but just have a lot of them I lean to keeping them somewhere but separating them from my main photos that I keep in Photoshop Elements, download to my iphone, etc.

(To give an idea of how ridiculous it is, I took lots of photos of the last 3 houses we bought when we saw the houses. I used them while under contract to decide where to put things when we moved in, etc. I still have all these photos. I use a program that randomly switches my pictures for my wallpaper so I'm always having photos of some stranger's bedroom popping up as my wallpaper....)
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:57 AM   #11
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I have a perfect solution, at least for digital photos.

After taking photos, I transfer the ones I like to my photos directory, and crop them, resize them, and fix them up. The "raw" photos remain on the camera's card, and are never modified.

When the camera's card fills up, I burn its image files to a DVD, label it "Raw Photos - The/Date/Here," save it, and then delete the photos on the camera's card.

I have a stack of these DVDs, and can access the raw, original, full-sized image file of every picture we've taken. It's rare that I've needed to, but it happens.

This doesn't take a lot of time since the camera's card holds a lot of photos.

On a related note...

The fixed up photos on the computer accumulate in the photos folder (with approriate subfolders), which is backed up every week. At the end of the year, the folder is moved into a \OldPhotos\Photos2011 folder and I start a new one for next year.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:05 PM   #12
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We just archive all digital photos. When we download from the camera, they get dumped into a dated folder, which lives under an annual folder (2011 photos, 2012 photos, etc). Sometimes we go through, crop, rotate, delete bad ones, etc. if we have time. Other times all the photos remain in the folder. From a storage capacity, I think storage mediums will continue to grow at a faster rate than our photo and video collection. A 3 TB hard drive is under $100 now, and can hold a million 3 MB photos or three hundred hours of video at 10 GB per hour. DW takes a lot of photos and vid but even she would have a hard time filling up that HD at today's production rate.

Accessing and indexing the photos is another story, but it really isn't much harder to look through a folder with 100 photos and find the one you want versus looking through a folder with 20 photos that are all the best quality. Much more time consuming is finding the 80 low quality or duplicate photos and deleting them.

Since our photos are organized by date, we think about when we took the photo if we want to look at a certain one. Examples - b-day parties, birth of children, snow, vacations, etc all happened at certain times or windows of the year (if repeated activities).

As for the OP's issues discarding things she doesn't want and will never use ever again - sounds like hoarding!
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:23 PM   #13
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I have a stack of these DVDs, and can access the raw, original, full-sized image file of every picture we've taken.
How are your DVDs holding up? Can you still read the oldest one, and how old is that?
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:23 PM   #14
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Accessing and indexing the photos is another story, but it really isn't much harder to look through a folder with 100 photos and find the one you want versus looking through a folder with 20 photos that are all the best quality. Much more time consuming is finding the 80 low quality or duplicate photos and deleting them.
Several things:

I downloaded a free program last night that go through your photos and finds duplicates. It then shows you the photos side by side and you can choose to delete them or keep them. In some cases I keep them -- these are mostly photos that I edited and made small changes to. They are close enough to be flag as a dup (I required I think 98% similarity not 100%) but I often want to keep the original and the edited version. In some cases photos are just so similar that I would delete one.

The interesting thing was that I found I have duplicates of almost every folder. I have an account at photoshop were I upload photos to keep a back up that isn't physically in my house (ie on my computer or my external drive or a DVD that is here). For some reason -- and I haven't yet been able to find the setting that created it -- there is an Adobe folder that has a copy of everything that was uploaded. I really don't need or want that.

Also I have a bunch of pics that are in my main picture folder that are numbered consecutively with a B prefix. I am not sure where they came from. I think it may have something to do with recently switching iphones and uploading stuff to iCloud. I think these may be copies of the photos on my iphone (which, again, largely duplicates what is on the computer). I am deleting most of those (unless it was a photo only on my iphone in which case I want to keep it).

A couple of years ago I went through all my photos and organized them by date of when the pic was taken. I have decades (1990s for example) then by year within the decade and then -- where known -- by month within the year.

I struggled on whether to organize by time (which I did) or by subject. The problem is that pics can be multiple subjects so I handle subjects by tags within Photoshop Elements.

The biggest issue has been some photos that I know where they are but not when taken. I've estimated for a lot of them and that is fine.

The thing that I uncovered was that I actually can't identify during which trip certain pics were taken. For example, we used to own a Disney vacation rental interest so went to Disneyworld a lot. I often can't figure out which photo is which trip.

I also realized that I don't recall necessarily when I made certain trips. I've since tried to create a chronology and make an entry on it for major trips or momentous events (i.e. when we went to Canada for vacation, when we moved into a particular house, etc).
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:24 PM   #15
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How are your DVDs holding up? Can you still read the oldest one, and how old is that?
My oldest DVD backup is from 11/6/06. I just tried it and it reads fine. I'm not too worried about the DVDs failing.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:01 PM   #16
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I first delete all the bad photos that I won't miss. Then I look for "scenes" and try to whittle each scene down to 1 or 2 of the best, deleting the duplicates. Then I also add 4 and 5 "stars" to my favorites from each folder in Adobe Bridge. That way if I open the folder in the future, I can quickly eyeball or find the best one. (Bridge is also good for renaming a batch of pics quickly.) You should get a free copy of Bridge with Photoshop.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:39 AM   #17
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A friend's mother recently died and my friend now has dozens of her photo albums dutifully shelved, next to her own photo albums. Since my friend has no kids, I see a dumpster full of albums in the future.

I know that it sounds cynical, but I almost never look at old photos. I can't imagine anyone in the future looking at mine. As a result, I take fewer photos all the time and try to enhance my living in the moment experience. I guess it would be different if I had kids and they were in the photos.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:45 AM   #18
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I've started using ZumoCast (Motorola app, I think) on my Android phone to quickly access my photos that reside on our home PC. We can be out somewhere with friends or family and I can almost instantly pull up photos of a particular time or event. 4G LTE is fast enough that there is usually no delay "flipping" from one photo to the next. The screen on my phone is actually big enough and bright enough to make viewing practical, at least for casual viewing.

But, to do that in a reasonable way, I've had to pay more attention to organization, deleting duplicates and bad photos, and providing enough information in the directory structure so that I can find things fairly easily.

Also, I've decided there's no point in having 10 similar poses - no one really wants to spend the time looking at variations of what is basically the same picture. So I've been paring things down quite a bit, with no real regrets so far.
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:52 AM   #19
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I know that it sounds cynical, but I almost never look at old photos.
Ditto. I have some old family photos, as well as my own "collection", and I rarely look at them. About a year ago I gave many the boot, both prints and digital. Still need better organization for the digital versions, but after a relatively ruthless pruning, both "piles" are much more manageable.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:15 PM   #20
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I deleted about 17000 duplicate photos that Photoshop Elements had for some reason I don't understand created. I'm down now to about 7000 photos that are on computer. I am going through them and deleted those that are hopelessly blurred or are really awful and have no part I could ever want to use again. I am moving to a separate folder photos that are (1) OK but not really good or (2) have flaws that editing software could probably cure. (This keeps those photos from being in the wallpaper rotation). I'm leaving the rest in my main file.

I still have a couple of boxes of paper photos to go through and send off for scanning.


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I know that it sounds cynical, but I almost never look at old photos
I actually look at old photos quite often. One thing is that I use a program that uses my photos to switch my wallpaper every few minutes on my two monitors. Quite often my husband or kids will come in the room and comment on the photo that happens to be up. We will reminisce or they will ask me about someone in a photo. I also sometimes do photo books. For Christmas I am making some calendars on Shutterfly with photos from our vacation to England this last summer.
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