If you're like me, you probably have a huge amount of RAW files, JPEGs, and PSDs stored on your hard drive (or multiple hard drives, including backups). The advent of DSLRs able to capture 10 frames-per-second (or more), ever-increasing memory card capacities and the decreasing cost of hard disk drives means that it's more likely than ever that your image library may require multiple terabytes of storage.
When the temperature drops below your comfort threshold, or when weather conditions keep you confined to your home, take some time to go back through your old images. This simple activity can be beneficial in many ways...
One great thing about going through your old images is that you can free up hard drive space by deleting images that no longer meet your quality threshold. As you grow in your photography skill level, your quality cut-off correspondingly increases. Shots that once met your minimum quality level for retention may no longer qualify. While you may want to keep a few as memoirs to remember where you came from, the DELETE key will be easy to hit on many of these images.
You will likely come across some gems when sorting through your old images. More than once I've missed great images when hurriedly reviewing hundreds of shots after a portrait session or event. Going back through your images allows you to analyze each collection with a keen, fresh eye. You will likely find images that you are now better-skilled to post process, allowing you to improve upon an already-good image. This process has the additional benefit of continuing to grow your processing skills.
If nothing else, going through your old images can simply be fun. You will likely come across people that haven't crossed your mind in a long time and places that have long since been forgotten. So while you're going through your images, take a moment to enjoy the flood of memories they bring to the forefront of your mind's eye.
And when you have decided on what to delete, what to reminisce over and ultimately what to save, do yourself a favor – back everything up
. Then do it again. If you do not have a backup (or two) of your most important images, they will
be lost – it's only a matter of time. External and portable hard drives
are great for protecting against drive failures, but cloud storage and off-site backups are optimal for protecting your data from the worst of circumstances (fire, flood, etc.).
Just in case you're curious, the shot above was taken the first week I began working for The-Digital-Picture in September, 2012. The lighting was provided by two gridded strip boxes (slightly behind the subject, used for rim lighting) and a small softbox in front. [Sean]