I never delete photos. Here is why you shouldn't either.
One could argue that the standard editing process is made up of importing the images, then selecting the ones that actual look decent, and then last but not least deleting the rest of them.
Yet for the last 4 years, I haven’t been doing the last step, saving up terabytes of data on a variety of expensive hard drives, yet for what reason? It’s pointless, isn’t it? Well no. At least in my opinion.
Personally if after a day of shooting I have taken 300 shots, if 30 of those are worth posting (which isn’t exactly the highest of standards) then it has been a successful day. So why keep the other 270 raw files, which just clog all the highly valuable memory. Well it’s a memory, whether it’s a street photo where you missed the target completely because you were shooting from the hip, or a portrait that just didn’t work because both of you couldn’t pull themselves together and stop laughing. Yet looking back, even after 2-3 years they still bring a slight smile to my face, which genuinely is valuable.
Most importantly though is the fact that one always finds new photos, that after some experience might actually work. For ex. out of the last 3 months, which is approx. 90 Instagram photos, 10 of those have been older photos, which weren’t taken 1 or 2 days before posting. That’s a ratio of more than 10%, which are photos that I’ve rediscovered through a new set of eyes. It truly is highly rewarding to find a new photo in a folder from 2015. It’s a confidence boost, proving to oneself that one wasn’t that awful 2 years ago like one actually thought.
Similarly to the last point, as a photographer one never knows what the next project might be or turn into. Who knows if 5 years after the shot was taken, it might be the missing key piece to a series.
The struggle with deleting photos is one is deleting a piece of work, because one at that present second doesn’t think it’s good enough, this split second decision which has permanent consequences indefinitely.