Harrowing The Hard Drive

TellAll through our photographic careers we are confronted by questions of character – moral decisions, if you will:

Will I feed my family this week or will I buy a new zoom lens? Are they all that good a family after all?

Should I take porno pictures? At the table? During Christmas lunch?

Do I need to keep 500+ RAW images of a shoot if I only got one good one out of it in the end  – and no-one paid me for the shoot anyway?

Decide the first two yourself – you’re big boys and girls now. But the third – the question of how much stuff to keep on your hard drive – is one that the Frontier and Colonial Photographic Establishment can help with. Our pronouncement is: get rid of as much as you can.

Note we do not advise you to ditch the wedding shots as soon as the cheque clears. Even if you have a RAW folder, and Aperture folder, and a finished jpeg folder…and have burnt off two dozen discs for the client, you may still want to do it all again – or rather someone else may want you to do it all again. Save the lot – and don’t be precious. If ten years down the track the brother-in-law of the bride wants to redo the entire thing because he has just been to TAFE and learned how to do layer in Photoshop…well sell him the RAW files for a suitable price and spend the money. You’ll never make a fortune on reprints at that stage of the game so you might as well take the cake when it is offered.

If you have shot 500+ event shots on RAW and then converted the good ones to jpeg, burned them, and never really expect to see the re-enactors/dancers/ships company again, you are pretty well justified in saving the little jpeg folder and dissolving the RAW one. Events are not great art and memory space on your drive is a finite resource. Don’t keep the dead wood if you need space for more good stuff.

If you are really paranoid, burn the RAW to discs and file them. OfficeWorks has dedicated files and pages that will do this and a single bookcase will be all you ever need. At 50¢ a disc you can afford to clean off the drive.

The real test of your character will be to look at tour own work and decide what is puerile, stale, vapid, or offensive – and compel yourself to delete it. The ability to make a judgement is one step forward for you and the courage to act on it is another. Remember your hit rate when you were shooting 35mm film was one great image per roll and three keepers. It may not have changed.

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