Timing for Deleting Outtakes

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Today’s Question: Where in your workflow do you purge photos that you know you will delete eventually? I know some are throwaways immediately, but there are many more that are borderline and I think might be decent with some post-processing work.

Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal preference is to not delete photos too early in my workflow, just in case I later change my mind. Therefore, I will typically mark photos that I feel can be deleted (such as with a Reject flag in Lightroom Classic CC) and then only delete at a later date when I feel confident that the photos can definitely be deleted without consequence.

More Detail: I don’t actually tend to delete very many photos, in large part because I don’t want to take the risk of regretting that I’ve deleted a given photo. In addition, I generally don’t feel it is worth going back to review my photos in order to look for some that could be deleted, since storage is relatively cheap and I always have what I feel are more important tasks on my to-do list.

That said, there are most certainly photos that I know I don’t need to keep and would like to get rid of. In my case this is especially true for video clips, which tend to consume considerably more storage space than still photos.

When I see a photo (or video) that I feel can probably be deleted, I’ll initially mark it with a Reject flag in Lightroom. Later in my workflow, when I’ve had a chance to further review and apply adjustments to my favorite photos from a given trip, I will get to the point that I know the outtakes I’ve marked with a Reject flag can comfortably be deleted. I will then use the “Delete Rejected Photos” command from the Edit menu to eliminate the photos I had marked with a Reject flag.

My preference is to be as consistent as possible in my workflow. Therefore, I use this somewhat cautious approach even for photos that clearly can be deleted without consequence, such as an image that was accidentally captured with the lens cap still attached to the lens. I feel that being consistent with these types of workflow tasks can help avoid mistakes.