Running out of photo storage space? Jim Austin M.A. Apogee Photo Coach, helps us to save our best work and free up space on our drives, with answers to the problem of running out of room for our photographs.
KEEPERS: SAVING PICTURES
At times we want to clean up and organize your drives or storage, to make room for new images. Maybe it is the end of the year, or just time for a Spring cleaning. Which of our photographs are really worth keeping?
Here is my formula. Your own strategy will fit your specific workflow.
FREEING STORAGE SPACE
HOW DO I DELETE PHOTOS FROM MY iCLOUD?
Grab your iPhone or iPad, then just scroll down and tap iCloud. Select STORAGE AND BACKUP. Tap Manage Storage. Find the app you want to manage, tap it, then swipe left (right to left) to show your Delete button. Tap to finish and confirm.
HOW DO I FREE STORAGE ON MY GOOGLE PLUS PHOTOS?
Open the Google Photos app, or go online at photos.google.com.
Then touch your MENU icon up at the top left. Touch Photos. Tap the icon for Magnifying glass. In the search box, type in #AUTOBACKUP. Touch the magnifying glass icon at the bottom right of your keyboard. To permanently delete photos and videos, touch and press/hold the video or photo you’d like to delete and put it (right facing arrow >) into the trash.
Now, I dont know if you’ve done this, but I’ve occasionally deleted something I want. Oops. No problem.
It’s easy to fix. Just find your TRASH icon. Put your cursor over the item to restore, then click Done. Click Restore at the top right. Your photo or video will be placed back into your Google Photos library and also into any album where it was previously located.
SELECTING and CURATING YOUR BEST:
To curate my work, I think of a metaphor. When distilling a fine liquor, we start with a vast amount of corn, rye, wheat, barley grain. With a lot of liquid wash, we heat it, and reduce it to the essential best ingredients. The challenge is selecting the best of the grain.
Examine your image folders with Lightroom or iPhoto, Win or Mac, or the viewer you prefer. Take time to try to select only your best. I like to open Lightroom, click the 5th star dot under my best photos, and give them a 5-star rating.
At year’s end, I create a collection in the Lightroom Collections or in a folder on my drive. The advantage of creating a collection is that it’s easy to make it into a video by exporting it from Lightroom mobile to Premiere clip (more on this and creating Collections in a future article). This folder is your distillation, or curation of the top images of the year.
TEN, FIVE, ONE
For each event, narrative or folder, save the top 10 images. The rest can be externally backed up before they are deleted. From these 10, I set aside five that I plan to print. Then, from these five distilled images, I save just one or two. These are the best images from a file called Masters, and are photos that will still hang on my wall at the close of the following year.
KILL THE DUPES
I also delete duplicates. For Windows users, Anti-Twin is free, lightweight software from developer Joerg Rosenthal. With Anti-Twin, you select and delete those pictures that are identical and repetitive (see the German IT company www.joerg-rosenthal.com). Anti-Twin lets you scan by file size, so you can target large duplicate files quickly and delete them, freeing up room on your drive.
KEYS TO THE KEEPERS
The number of images you save will vary, because your workflow and storage craft are set for your own choice and style. The key is the criteria for evaluating your own images. I find that setting the bar high, and organizing my best images, makes me compose better for the future.
I’d like to share the keys to the keepers. Here are four aspects of interesting images, I call keepers:
1) THE SPONTANEOUS SUBJECT.
I’ve found that a sense of humanity in the moment and spontaneity define the images that I personally enjoy. Photographer John Loengard gave me a mantra here when he said: “I think what makes a picture is a moment that is completely spontaneous and natural and unaffected by the photographer.” Often, this quality engages viewers to make a narrative story from it.
2) THE PIERCING DETAIL.
There may be excellent light, a strong subject, and skillful composition. Yet, what makes an image a keeper in the long run can be an unforgettable detail. Speaking of a detail that wounds, or pierces our perception, Roland Barthes called this a “punctum.” For clarity, let’s just call it a piercing detail.
3) RESPECT FOR THE FRAME.
When my images are composed with too much stuff in them, it can be initially hard to see this lack of simplicity. Later on, often I can tell that a photograph is too complicated, with extraneous imagery that is unnecessary. The question is: Is the frame complete, and does everything in the frame need to be there?
4) PERMANENCE STANDS OUT.
Many photographs involve time and the timeless: its passage, space-time, surreal time, hyper-real time, time as illusion, and static time. Some images do this symbolically. Others involve time iconically. When an image has a timeless presence or defines a unique moment, it’s probably a keeper. In his book The Creative Fight, Chris Orwig, a photographer and author, put it like this: “In the era of the instant, it’s the permanent that stands out.”
CONCLUSION: We can all benefit from more storage space. While it is easy to put off the task of maintenance of our image files, it helps to set a specific date. To motivate myself for the task, I select a special event—such as New Years Day, birthday, or the purchase of a new camera—to get it done. Distill your images using your own criteria, and you’ll have more space to put those that are as yet unborn.
Jim Austin MA is a photo educator, photo workshop leader and publisher. He lives aboard the catamaran Salty Paws, currently on assignment in the Bahamas.