I'm starting to think that all of the "practice" photos we take when we are just out with our cameras, tasked with no projects and no agenda in mind, are very much disposable. Maybe it's even a good exercise to learn how to toss away images permanently after you've looked at them. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in having hard disks more or less filled with lots of "almost" "nearly" "pretty good except for...." "so close" "so boring" etc. photographs. Someone mentioned on a different blog site that various masters of 20th century photography often felt the need to shoot two or three rolls of film every day, just to stay "tuned". Just to stay warmed up for the main events.
Josef Koudelka was reported to have walked around a friend's house aimlessly shooting his camera each morning until he'd blasted through a couple of rolls of film. He felt it was something he needed to do to keep from getting rusty. Playing the scales as it were.
I seem to do the same thing but with the fecundity of digital cameras I come back home with hundreds and hundreds of frames. Not a handful. Not just a couple dozen. Some indifferent, most boring, but a few with promise. A very few.
Schooled in the days of film photography we got into the mindset of never throwing images away. Even "seconds" or almost frames could be recycled as stock images or something. Now the costs of keeping a half million images on hand is trivial but the burden of having them in the mental subroutines we use to remember where we store it all is brutal. Excessive. Debilitating.
Lately, like a sport fisherman, I've been tossing lots of catches back into the ocean of photos once I feel I've bagged my limit. I think I've come to a somewhat rational conclusion that since I'm not inclined to stop shooting all these files, wanted and unwanted, they are going to continue to increase in quantity and will eventually gum up the works. Both literally and figuratively.
I've become less attached to the images that I used to be. Maybe it's the realization of my own fleeing years and the mortal goal posts getting progressively closer but I've realized that I don't want to spend whatever years (hopefully decades and decades) I have left hunched over the hot fires of a jam-packed computer sorting wheat from chaff and making some sort of catalog that will eventually dissolve like sugar in hot water. Better to start tossing now and with gusto then to become trapped by images that linger; vaguely wanted but mostly only as signposts along the way and not as real art, with real value. To me or anyone else.
I like the image above. But it's not very compelling. I don't have a story that goes with it. It's decor in some downtown building at the corner of two famous streets. But whatever art is contains is lodged with the actual object and not my haphazard documentation of it. I can now bring myself to share it once here and then discard it permanently. A tiny part of a gorged hard drive will probably breathe a very small sigh of relief but then gird itself for the onslaught of more.
It's an addiction to keep shooting when you've filled every nook and cranny of storage you own. Like a gambling addict the addicting rationale is to just keep buying more of those cute little hard drives and keep hoping that one of the stored images is a blockbuster prize/the winning lottery number, the must have NFT that's just temporarily dormant. But with the full knowledge that you'll never be shouting "Bingo!" Or "read em and weep" where all these images are concerned.
You know the ones you need to keep. They are of treasured memories. Of close loved ones and their visual history. Your collection of celebrity photographs that may increase in value as the news cycles become ever more rabid and desparate. You keep the images that cause you to pause and look and smile every time you see them on your screen. But damn man, it's time to get rid of all the rest.