The Importance of Deleting Your Photographs

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Midway through last year, I shut down my flickr account. While some may balk at the thought of having one, I found it to be a swell community, despite the fact that it was still clunky after Yahoo! updated the veneer. As I was figuring out the photographer I wanted to be, I realized that I needed to clean up what I had online, and my flickr account was the primary culprit because it had everything I put up since 2009. It was rife with awful photographs of flowers, lifeless scenes, and scenes where bokeh was the main focus because my 50mm f1.7 lens was a godsend. My photographs had no soul and no voice, and anyone who came across it would have no idea what to make of me as a photographer. It was this realization and slight existential crisis that instilled in me the importance of cleaning house.

If you’ve had an Instagram, a Flickr, or anything else since you started photographing, chances are your stream is wide and varied. Go back to the first image you uploaded and trace the arc of your photography. Hopefully, you’ve improved, and if you’ve developed an audience along the way, they’ve noticed your evolution. There’s a chance, however, that your feed is muddled. There may very well be gems, but it takes time and effort to find them.

While the best things in life are worth working for, people shouldn’t have to work to find your best photographs. In the case of my old flickr account, the whole thing was a vestigial organ waiting to be cut out. It was weighing me down and obfuscating my online presence. This isn’t a knock against the site. I made bad self-editorial choices. At the time I uploaded those images, I thought they were worth something, but I didn’t know any better. My photographic understanding wasn’t nearly as developed as it needed to be, and once I became aware of that, I got rid of the entire thing.

After that, I focused on putting my best work forward, which included being judicious about what I put up elsewhere: Instagram, Facebook, etc. No one has time to wade through the muck to get to your oasis of images. Put your oasis up front. Give the people your best stuff, and you’ll reap the words in fans and work. The rewards aren’t immediate, but they will come.

Your best bet is to take a long, hard look at the places where you put up your photographs. Keep your eye on your best stuff, and give no quarter to anything else. A well-curated feed with fewer images is much better than a convoluted feed with some gems. Deleting your photographs is one of the healthiest things you can do.