Photography is so cheap these days (apart from gear…). A terabyte of storage space costs next to nothing and stores 209,715 (!) 5MB photo files, that’s a generous size for quality Web publishing. So why worry? Prints, however, are a whole different story. Be it TIFFs or bloated up JPEGs converted from RAW, one would think that serious photography will eat up storage space even faster. In the end though serious photography saves a lot of space. Because serious photographers don’t stick to shots no one wants to look at. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Only keep what needs no reams of explanation and cries for being printed and hanged on a wall. What’s not worth it is not worth it. Get rid of it, and in no time any photography will improve. Well it’s not that easy…:
We tend to store thousands and thousands of photos, ignoring that a famous photographer once said along the lines of, “A few good photographs a year is a good yield.” Oh great pain of letting go.
Taking too many photographs not only subverts the importance of seeing with one’s own eyes. It also leads to a megapixel overload and distraction that serve no one. But even if I cut down on pressing the shutter button too often and delete most of my shots, I still end up with way too many. Or do I?
After some time, looking through the files, even unimportant, meaningless and artistically dubious work sometimes reminds me of instances and events I would long have forgotten without looking at these substandard “reminders.” Just browsed through the iPhones Photos folder, storing years of snaps. What a time travel, what a delight!
Traveling through time by means of occasional photographs doesn’t justify to keep each and every one of them, but it also says something about how we look at photographs: over time, photos change and carry a different meaning.
A photograph made a few years ago might be a different photograph today. Maybe the relationship with the persons shown changed, maybe the photographer moved on to live in a different place or, as mentioned, simply forgot that the photographed event ever took place.
Still, while my lofty aim is to only keep what I’ll print and hang on the wall (without having to expand the house with a lot more wall space) because I enjoy nice photographs with substance and depth, in the end the joy of making each and every of the insignificant photograph is not less rewarding.
So what’s more important: the experience of photography or the final photograph.
An impossible question. I’ll do like this: shoot as I please and enjoy doing it while ruthlessly culling the unworthy stuff without wasting much post-processing time behind the screen. Move on if the photograph doesn’t “work” at first sight.
A handful of good photographs a year? Nice yield. Just about right for the size of my wall space.