Less taking. More Deleting.
Updated: Sep 5, 2019
There were a few years there when people would talk with pride about how many photos they had taken on a trip or at an event. Now not so much.
We all know the reason why. The number of photos we have on our phones is completely overwhelming. And just how much fun is it waiting for your friend to scroll through their phone looking for that one photo they want to show you... "Oh where is it? It's disappeared. Wait. I you must see it. No that's not it, it must be further back. Oh here's another one I took. Good eh? Ah finally - here's the bird I was talking about. It's a bit blurry. Any idea what it is? Bueller... Bueller..."
You could certainly have a 'who cares' attitude about having thousands upon thousands of photos - it's a perfectly valid point of view. But, I would argue that we still count our photos amongst our most precious possessions. The problem being that we are making them a lot less precious by burying our most meaningful photos in amongst a mountain of photographic 'trash'. So many of us have developed the habit of photographing literally every single thing we do. If you think about the math (life expectancy x 5000 photos are year) - it's not hard to see why this just isn't smart.
So here are a few ideas to take with you when you're out and about and itching to record everything...
You can't record every moment of your trip. You just can't.
But you can waste a hell of a lot of it taking photos of locations, castles, monuments, street scenes that have all been a taken millions of times. Google 'Eiffel Tower - Images' and you will not be able to scroll to the bottom of the results. Try to focus on the fact that you can simply enjoy the moment WITHOUT shooting it. This takes practice at first - but really does get easier as you go along and is actually really freeing as you get more comfortable with just living life without trying to hold on to it. Because remember - you can't.
Before you shoot - think about what or why your shooting - if you're just recording the scene in front of you - don't do it.
If you still have to do it, take 3 shots and no more. Make them count as if you were shooting (and paying for) film.
After you shoot - immediately delete almost everything - only keep the very best.
This is another reason not to take 20 shots of the same thing - it becomes so hard to decide what to delete. This especially applies to shots of your kids as if feels like you want to capture every expression. Believe me - one impactful shot will mean far more than 100 average ones. Delete. Delete. Delete. Your camera roll will thank you.
Learn how to keep only one photo from a burst of several photos.
Continuous shoot is a great tool - but you must delete all but the best of these photos or again you're just adding shots but reducing impact. Just navigate to youtube and search for 'how to handle burst photos' in your brand of phone. I'm not including links here as both phones and youtube content change all the time. Once you find out how to do it, then practice until it becomes second nature to select the best photo from any burst and delete the rest. One thing to know is that most photos apps will retain your deleted photos in a separate album for the 30 days - so you do have an opportunity to retrieve them if you suffer from 'deleters remorse' :)
You won't remember the photo with the minute difference in expression. If you have 3 photos that are virtually the same. Don't waste time going endlessly back and forth deciding between them. Pick one. Delete the others. In less than 2 minutes those deletions will be forgotten. Just an FYI. Don't do this when you're tired as fatigue really interferes with these types of decisions.
The easiest things to shoot and delete
Sunsets. Landscapes. Views. Flowers. Random street scenes. Thses are the things that are fun to shoot but should be the first to go. And you know, it's so good to be able to watch the sun go down without having to photograph it. Just enjoy the spectacular sky. The horizon is huge, your smartphone screen is not.
Eyes on the prize
The practice of consciously 'not shooting' does take practice. Don't beat yourself up if you go back on the photo 'sauce' and end up with hundreds of photos from a 5 minute boat ride.
You'll only be able to consider yourself a graduate of the Photo Genie school of 'less is more' photography if you are on vacation and can actually go to a destination without a camera or a smartphone.
Feel free to let me know if that ever happens! (I've done it, it's hard.)