Organizing a photo library: a source of inspiration

I usually sort and organize my Adobe Lightroom catalog a few times a year since it tends to get messy after a while. There’s always lots of photographs to delete (test shots, out-of-focus shots, jpeg files, etc). But starting this process is always a pain that’s delayed until it starts to become a big job.

I try my best to always delete my bad photographs when I import a set to my catalog. To do this I always just browse through the photographs quickly within the Library module and use the right arrow key to go to the next file and whenever I find a file that I want to delete I simply hit “shift-x” which will flag the photograph as a reject and go to the next file.
When I’m done flagging I simply hit ctrl-backspace (cmd-backspace on a Mac) and select Yes to delete the rejected images from my hard drive. This places the images in the recycle bin (trash) so you can still restore them if you want to.

There’s always a bunch of images that doesn’t get deleted after import though, even though they should. I am a firm believer in getting rid of old junk instead of letting it occupy a lot of space. The same goes for bad images. There’s absolutely no reason to keep technically flawed images in a photo library. I never delete proper images (even uninteresting ones – as long as they’re technically good I’ll keep them around). But as always with time… Junk will start creeping up on you and after a while it’s time to do some house cleaning!

The fun thing about sorting and organizing a photo library is that you’ll probably discover a lot of images that you totally forgot about.
Good images belonging to a set that you forgot about because of that stunning image from that set. In several months you might have developed your taste in photography as well, and images that was previously uninteresting might suddenly look very interesting!

I just cleaned up my catalog of images and I got rid of about 2500 files. About 500 of them were crappy files that I never could use for anything. The last 2000 images was jpeg duplicates of raw files that I already had. There’s no reason to keep these jpeg images around when I have (and prefer) the raw file, and the reason I had them was from earlier when I used a Fujifilm X-Pro1 which Adobe Lightroom has some issues with in regards to raw conversion quality so I always shot in raw+jpeg mode on this camera.

I found many old files that I totally had forgotten about. Many of them are now in my Quick Collection (hit the B key to add images to your Quick Collection list) and waiting for further processing and evaluation. One of the images that I found is the image attached to this article. It’s an image that I just snapped in 2012 when I didn’t think about composing with layers. Looking at it today however I think it is a decent layered color composition. Yes, it might be an uninteresting image – but – It’s fun to look back at old images and notice new things about them. It can be very inspiring to see how much you’ve developed and learned over the course of time.

You can learn a lot by looking at your old work. So start looking!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

January 24, 2013 at 20:30

I know where you’re coming from, but you’ve got rid of 2500 files? You’re a brave one!

January 24, 2013 at 21:53
– In reply to: inés

2000 of those files were duplicates. I had about 2000 images in both raw and jpeg format so I simply deleted the jpeg’s. No reason to keep them both around.
And 500 of them were typical test shots or über crappy shots. No reason to keep them around either 🙂

January 24, 2013 at 21:54
– In reply to: Børge

Fair enough! 😉

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