Culling photos and RAW vs JPEG

"Olympus XA" Cedar Park, 2016
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/25 sec, ISO6400
“Olympus XA” Cedar Park, 2016

こんばんは!How’s it going? Over here, it’s raining… make sure to keep dry and stay healthy!

Today’s photo is of one of my favorite cameras, the mighty Olympus XA. It is such a great design, and takes wonderful photos because of the lovely Zuiko lens. I love it, although I don’t shoot with it too often.

Tonight I replied to a post on Flickr that was concerning running out of hard drive space because of shooting many RAW files. In writing my response, I thought about how my philosophy on making photos has changed over the years to where I am now, which is a happy place. Not surprisingly, it has to do with decluttering. Below is the response I posted:

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Just my personal experience…

Short answer: It helps if you cull your photos early on, and be “ruthless” about it. 🙂

Long-winded answer:

I think many of us have gone through or are going through a similar situation, myself included. There was a time when I was shooting so much, in RAW, kept everything, was running out of space, and “got behind” in processing those files. Photography started being less fun for me.

Then, I started shooting some corporate events and my view on culling the photos started to take shape. Each time I clicked the shutter, I would think “This photo is going to take me X amount of minutes to process.” This left a feeling of dread – I didn’t want to stay up all night processing so many! So I decided I needed to cull more aggressively. Now, if I shoot one event presenter, I might take 40 shots, but immediately (in camera) cull that down to 15, deleting obvious ones like closed eyes, weird mid-talk expressions, etc. Then later in Lightroom, I’d spend one minute to cut that to 3 maximum (more for a keynote), and post-process those.

I then started applying that to my personal work. I found that choosing the best ones in-camera soon after I took them made photography a lot more enjoyable. The sooner I deleted the rejected photos, the less I would think about them and consequently eliminate any regret I might have had in not keeping them. (I didn’t have time to get attached to those photos) And my memory card felt nice and tidy, free of clutter.

Another change that really helped me enjoy photography more is that I now shoot exclusively (for my personal photos) in JPEG. I have found that committing to the image immediately gives me a sense of closure and peace-of-mind. This may sound weird, but to me, a RAW file is the middle step in the photographic process, with the end of the process being a print or JPEG. It’s like the RAW file represents an unfinished project (with endless possibilities) and when I had 1,000 RAW files sitting on my hard drive, it was like having 1,000 unfinished projects just gnawing away at me. (I guess I have some issues!)

So now I cull like crazy, and I’m happy with (or at least committed to) the images I keep, and forget about all the others… it’s a lot less clutter on the hard drive and less clutter in my mind.

Sorry for the long-winded (and somewhat off-topic) message, and thanks for reading.

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I hope you have a nice rest of the evening, and let’s do our best tomorrow!

おやすみなさい!

-B Barron Fujimoto

One Reply to “Culling photos and RAW vs JPEG”

  1. Good guidance and advice.

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