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The Great Photo Purge of 2023

David Hayden Photography

What's the quickest way to fill a closet with new clothes?

The quickest way to fill a closet with new clothes is get rid of the old clothes. I decided to test that theory on my images. So today, I deleted 20,000 - 30,000 images, 1.5TB in total.

I've been storing unreasonable amounts photos for years. My thinking was, maybe someone will want additional copies, or maybe I'll edit that differently, or I wonder if I can put that in a frame and sell it? It's an illusion.

When a shoot an event, there is usually a window of a month or so when interested parties buy images. Only twice in the last 5 years has anyone come back months or years later to buy another image. And if the images are portraits, it never happens.

All of these photos were taking up too much space in both my computer and my brain. Sometimes it's hard to feel inspired when I look back at a hard drive stuffed with photos. It's like having a cluttered desk or disorganized studio, all of the mess detracts from my vision. All of the clutter adds an extra layer work.

Today I said so long to thousands of rodeo, dressage, ballet, and organized event photos. It felt wonderful. I didn't even look at them, I just highlighted whole directories, Right clicked, held the shift key and pressed the delete key. Without hesitation, when prompted to confirm that I wanted to PERMANENTLY delete all the files, I immediately clicked yes.

Because I am thorough, I went through all backup drives and deleted the back ups as well. It took all day.

And then it happened!

Wouldn't you know it. No sooner than I deleted all those images, something occurred to me as I walked into my studio.

This is a "freaking" mess I thought as I looked at my studio with a fresh perspective. Having cleaned my hard drives, made it easier to see the disorganization and clutter that had become my studio.

I am happy to report, I acted on that dissatisfaction and promptly reorganized and cleaned my studio.

Boy do I feel good, now I'm ready to start filling the hard drives with new and inspired images. The best Christmas present ever.


Anything we hang on on to just because we can't get rid of it, holds us back. It might be for sentimental reasons and that is fine. I'm not getting rid of tools my dad left me or vintage cameras or even the collection of WW2 photos my uncle took in Europe.

I keep them knowing they take me back to a different time. Time spent with family now long gone. It is essential to remember the past. It is useless however, to live in the past.

Hanging on to things that lack meaning, or provide no value is just indulging fear. What if I need a wood screw in the future? What if that broken frame can be saved? What if the economy crashes and that old 8088 intel processor becomes valuable. Better yet, what if I get my butt in gear and improve my photograph by just 1% each month.

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