Photo Delete Workflow


Today’s Question: I was intrigued to see you answer a question about deleting photos in Lightroom Classic, since my understanding is that you don’t generally delete photos. Is that still your practice?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I still delete very few photos in my workflow. When there are photos I want to delete I use a workflow in Lightroom Classic that involves flagging the images with a Reject flag, and then deleting all rejected photos at once.

More Detail: There have generally been two reasons I tend not to delete very many photos. The first is that I don’t want to risk regretting that I no longer have a particular photo. Sometimes, for example, even an out-of-focus photo can document a memorable experience.

The second reason I’ve generally not deleted photos is that doing so had felt like it was interrupting my workflow for reviewing photos. However, with Lightroom Classic I have a streamlined way of dealing with photos I want to delete.

While reviewing images, I use star ratings to identify favorites, which can be assigned in Lightroom Classic with the number keys on the keyboard, with 1 through 5 assigning the applicable number of stars, and 0 (zero) removing the star rating.

During that process it is very simple to press the “X” key on the keyboard to assign a Reject flag to any photo I feel should be deleted. Later, after reviewing all of the photos from a given trip, for example, I can review all of the photos that have a Reject flag assigned to them. If I change my mind and decide one of those photos shouldn’t be deleted, I can select the image and press the “U” key on the keyboard to unflag the image.

Once I’ve decided I really do want to delete the photos with a Reject flag, I can navigate to the folder where I want to delete the rejected photos, and then go to the menu and choose Photo > Delete Rejected Photos. In the confirmation dialog, I recommend clicking the “Delete from Disk” button, so that the photos will both be removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog and also removed from the hard drive. In other words, to me there’s no reason to have the photos taking up space on the hard drive if they’re not being managed within your catalog.

So, I don’t delete very many photos in general (though I’ve contemplated re-evaluating this approach), but when I do I prefer to make use of a workflow that involves assigning a Reject flag to the photos I want to delete, and then deleting them in batch when I’m finished with my review.