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Photo Tips > Deleting & Sorting

Evaluation Has Benefits

Evaluating your photographs by deleting and sorting them teaches you to be a better photographer.

Deletion with Camera v. Computer

Avoid deleting photographs with your camera.

First, the LCD screen may not display your photographs accurately.

Second, it's easier to delete the wrong photographs with your camera than when using your monitor and keyboard.

If you mistakenly delete some photographs from a memory card, stop using the card and go to Recover Files.

Don't Delete?

Many photographers don't delete.

• There's lots of space on hard drives.

• You never know when a photograph may become useful to you.

• With Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, and especially with raw files, many clinkers can be resuscitated.


Sort your photographs into three "piles."

You'll use tags, described below, to make the piles.

1) Clinkers

Your definition of a clinker will vary from other photographers.

For example, out-of-focus photographs may be clinkers for you, while other photographers will save them for collages, text backgrounds, and so forth.

As discussed, some photographers delete their clinkers, while others keep them.

2) Culls

A month from now, a year from now, a cull may become the best photograph from the batch.

In the future, you may have different needs and different "eyes."

For example, read Dirck Halstead's experience with his photograph of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky embracing at a fundraiser.

The Monica Lesson

3) Keepers


You can use tags to create virtual piles of your photographs.

Create tags, such as Clinkers, Culls, and Keepers.

Or, if you use Adobe Bridge or Adobe Lightroom, use the stars to rate your photographs.

Then, when you you're looking at the photographs in a folder, you can sort them by quality.

Visual Notes

You may want to create a folder called Visual Notes.

You'll review your visual noted periodically.

Copy photographs to the folder that:

• You want to repeat, such as using a graduated neutral density filter.

• You never want to do again, such as forgetting to change the white balance back from tungsten to automatic.

• Are experiments and ideas about which you want to be reminded.