thoughts on photography | can you take too many photos?

First of all, you know how I rarely ask questions in my posts? I have this blog philosophy that I don't like to ask questions just to ask them and get some comments. If I ask my readers something, it's because I really would like to know what they think about a certain topic. Today's post is about one of these topics. So make sure to comment and share your experience and opinion on what I'm about to write!

You know what I need to? I need to take less photos. Yes, you heard me right. Less photos. And I need to clean up my Lightroom catalog. And delete. Delete, delete, delete. I have a really bad habit when I take pictures. I love taking pictures so badly that when I am in a new place or when I see something, I think will make a beautiful photo, I kind of go into panic and just shoot away like a madman. I am so terrified that I will miss out on something, that I will come home from a vacation without having documented all photogenic places in that new place, that I will not get the perfect angle of a flower, the perfect expression of a child, or the perfect fall of light in an outdoor location. Therefore I just shoot away in order to make sure that at least one photo will be just as I want it to be.

When I was about to get on the plane from Berlin to Copenhagen after five days of vacation and conference, I had almost 800 photos on my computer. EIGHTHUNDRED. Do you think they were 800 gorgeous photos? Nope. Half of them were deleted immediately. 

Today where I have finished editing, I'm down to a little under 200 photos. Many of them aren't good enough to show, so I could probably easily be fine with even less photos. At the same time editing these photos was a living hell for me. Usually the editing process is my favorite thing, but in this case it was just stressful, hard and annoying. Too many photos to choose from, too many similar photos, where you have to browse through maybe 30-40 almost identical pics of the same thing trying to figure out which ones to keep and edit.

Another negative thing which comes with this "desperate" photo behavior of mine is that I don't do my best. Because I know that I will have so many photos to choose from, when I come home, I don't concentrate enough while taking every single photo. And that is of course both ironic and stupid.

Some of my best photos are single photos, meaning that I came home with only one photo of a certain building/cat/flower/landscape etc. and that photo turned out to be just perfect. This tells me that because I only took one photo I was doing my best at that very moment. That is how a photo should be taken!

So I have made a new rule for myself: Only photograph things which will actually make a great photo and when doing so only take a few pics, but do your outmost to make those pictures perfect.

Maybe there is also a positive psychological effect in coming home, importing your pics to lightroom and see 50 great photos instead of 300 so so photos. I think it will do me good :-)

And now, back to Lightroom. See I still have quite a few photos to edit ... and delete. 


  1. Hi, my name is also "madman" :) It is a very hard thing.. and I have too many unprocessed raw files in my computer, so I understand that. But when I travel, I often have the feeling, that I have to shoot now, because may be it is the one and only opportunity.

    1. I know the feeling :-) Anyway it's good to know I'm not the only madman :-) Thanks a lot for commenting.

  2. Taking a bunch of shots can make you feel safe when you have to take pictures for a job or a special project. Its also a good way of practicing, it can teach you a lot and help you find your own style, but it can also confuse you (I take ages choosing the pictures I want to keep or delete). I think its important to know when to take a thousand pictures and when to shoot a couple times. I have been traveling a lot and i decide that 600 pictures of a weekend its not worth it, so I ve been taking just a couple of shots instead of going crazy... I found out this is a good exercise that helps me focus on what I really want to capture, makes me decide faster and had helped me gain confidence as a photographer, knowing that i have the perfect shot i was looking for.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment. I think you are absolutely right and the thing about confidence is very true as well. Thanks a lot for taking your time to write these very wise words.

  3. As someone who has been faced with, oh, 600 final photos from a trip (I say final because I deleted hundreds along the way) I know exactly what you're talking about. I think a lot of this has to do with the digital revolution. Although you may have blown through 30-40 rolls of film if cost weren't an issue and you weren't doing the processing in a darkroom (which is, of course, its own kind of fun), the shooting probably would have been a bit different. Digital cameras allow us to consume at a rapid rate because we know (hope) there is bound to be a good shot among the mass. And if not, we can just delete them -- or manipulate them with software. Add to that the ability to see a photo in the field and retake it it if it's not quite what you'd hope for. All of that contributes to file bloat. Digital is awesome in many ways, and having hundreds or thousands of photos isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the instant gratification of digital can contribute to a bit of -- laziness, for lack of a better word. I am sometimes a willing victim of the digital beast. The challenge, as you've recognized, is staying thoughtful with subject selection and photo composition.

    You've got an eye already, so for fun, work as if shooting with film (maybe your last roll). Try confining a session to 20-36 frames. See what you come up with.

    P.S. I have a turntable like the one in your latest post. It -- and all of my albums (including the Doors) -- is packed away. Why? Because of . . . digital.

    1. Wow, I'm so sad not to know who you are :-) Your comment is brilliant and just spot on. I love that you even made a connection between the old turntable and my problems described in this post. You are so right. The digital world has so many advantages, but it's not all good. Deep down I know for sure with myself that some day far from now I will turn towards film. I can see from my fellow bloggers that it's almost like a natural thing once they reach a certain level within their digital photography. And that's funny. 'Cause this means that in the end it's the good old things that work the best and make us give the best of us.

      Thank you so much for taking your time to write this wonderful comment. Hope to see you back at the blog again soon, whoever you are :-)


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