This Mistake Could Cost Your Photography More Than You’re Willing To Sacrifice

This Mistake Could Cost Your Photography More Than You're Willing To Sacrifice

There are several reasons for holding on to each and every one of the images taken on your photoshoot, until you get back home and view them on your computer.

Travel photographer Lara Joy Brynildssen has put together a great article over at Digital Photography School. She explains why it’s so important not to delete any images while your at a photoshoot.

You may not only lose some real keepers because you can’t see them well enough on the LCD screen, but you could also damage the memory card you’re using.

Formatting is better for your memory card than deleting

Rather than deleting images, the gold standard is to download your entire card, reformat it, then start shooting again. Every photographer has varying opinions on this but this method seems to save wear and tear on your memory cards.

While they aren’t as expensive to replace as they used to be, they do last longer with more care. Reformatting rather than deleting also seems to prevent your card from corrupting, which saves you the time and expense – and panic – of dealing with that issue. It’s never pleasant to download a card and realize half your day’s shoot is corrupt and won’t load.

Usually, recovery software works and you can eventually retrieve those images. But if skipping in-camera deletion helps prevent corruption, then by all means, let’s all stop doing it.

Chimping and deleting takes you out of the moment

While you’re chimping and deleting images, you’re no longer in the moment. You take yourself out of the present and start reviewing images from the past. If you were on a roll or having a moment of magical oneness with your camera and your subject, you’ve just disrupted all that.

When you start pressing the delete button, you’re pressing the disconnect button too. You’ve stopped being an artist to chimp, delete, and save space on your memory card. Will you be able to immediately reconnect with your inner artist when you’re done chimping and deleting? Most of us can’t get back to that creative place quickly or easily so once we get there, it’s best to stay focused there.

You’ll miss some great shots while your head is down

What are you missing while your head is buried in your camera’s LCD? You’ve traveled all the way to [insert your favorite place here] to photograph [insert your favorite subject here] and instead of photographing it, you’ve let your OCD take over and you’re cleaning up your memory card. Is that a good return on your investment? Are you making the best use of the time and money you’ve expended?

When you bury your head into the technical parts of your camera, you miss so much. Yes, a quick glance at your histogram is fine. Yes, you can quickly double-check your focus to make sure you’ve nailed it, but then keep shooting before you lose your mojo.

Read the full article with even more tips over at Digital Photography School.

Source: Digital Photography School


There’s one more reason not to delete while on a shoot. Last night I was photographing a big bat mtizvah party. My flash didn’t fully recycle fast enough during a key part of the event. I looked at my LCD screen and was aghast that it was practically black. Instead of deleting those image files, I waiting to see how they’d look on my computer. Since I shoot RAW (a must for pros), I was able to salvage those images, which turned out to be pretty decent. if I had deleted them….

Thankfully I had a great teacher who taught me the horrors of “deleting from the camera” So I didn’t have learn this the hard way. I never delete on a shoot and only reformat after downloading the card on the hard drive. (I have a dedicated hard drive for images) I do want to add an additional word of warning, Never, Never, Never put all your eggs( or in this case images) on one storage area. I did learn this the hard way after my external hard drive fell and I lost over 20,000 images! back them up in at least two different locations and never keep them in the same place.That way should you get robbed or have a fire your images are safe.

I delete as I go. It means I have nearly zero misses when I cull a wedding. They only get deleted off of one card though to be sure. I also believe this article is full of great advice. I overshot when I first started, now, 99/100 of what I delete deserved to be deleted, believe me. It comes with experience. As far as ‘corrupt ect..” I’ve been shooting for a decade and never had a card corrupt in camera.

I’ve had it happen to me years ago. Be careful. Deleted a few during a wedding. Got to the cake cutting and half of those images were corrupted. Thankful my 2nd got it all. I’ll never delete again.

I never had such a problem deleting during a shoot. Is this an advertisement to get photographers to buy more memory cards? hmmm!

This is BS. I have been deleting in camera for as long as I have owned digital cameras (16 years). I have never ended up with a corrupted sd card. Buy quality card and abuse them for years without fear.

Yes, me too. This is my second Canon EOS Rebel, I’ve had it for 4 years, with the same memory card that I bought with the camera, plus another one. I have no problems at all with any of my images


I average 1,200-1,500 images/day at the events I work. I do delete images deserving of culling, in camera – the timing of the movement of my subject is a critical thing in my specific work. Occasionally I do miss, and because we show proofs at the event, the culls never get to be shown by the booth assistant.

I learned early on to buy quality cards deemed compatible by the camera manufacturer. The only corrupted card I have had was a cheap card (and I won’t buy that brand again) and that was used in a very early digital camera body. (All images were recovered, BTW).

The only problem I’ve had with a reputable, good quality card were contacts that were fried after the card was removed from the camera. The card manufacturer stepped up, issued an RMA, recovered the images and shipped a brand new replacement card with the images.

I have some good cards that are 8 and 9 years old and have never been a problem.

One thing I do – I use nothing larger than a 16GB card, which also minimizes my risk SHOULD I ever have a corrupted card with images that should prove unretrievable. They are also a reasonable size for rotating to the computer in a timely manner during an event and don’t take forever to load, either. Cards are not cleared before the event is over and everything is backed up on at least two differnt drives, at which time I reformat the cards.

Reading comprehension 101. The article said to delete them “by re-formatting” the card after down loading the files from the SD card to your computer. It did not say you should leave them on that card forever and buy another card. Geez! Read much?

I still pretend I am shooting with my Nikon film camera and am using a 36 exposure film. Making wiser choices at each shot taken-take 2 cameras and follow that pattern – I get for the most part good usable shots minimizing the need to delete in camera . Just a way to shorten time behind a computer and giving more time to shooting . Work at TFTM Photographic Services and it still works fine in the digital age. Marked contrast to years since 1963

I rarely delete anything till I get it on the big screen. I can’t post it on here but I was taking pictures of people on the beach (Daytona) on Christmas day 2014. I hadn’t realized it but I had a picture of two girls doing handstands in the water while being held up by a guy … must have been their dad or someone because he was older. Perfect picture (and dated too) to show off to my northern friends who were snowed in at the time!! I had to crop it down for them to show up enough to really see it but I did get the picture!!

I do things a little different. I am just an amateur and probably use 4 to 5 SD cards a year. (32GB). I do not reuse my cards. I put them in the little plastic case they come in and then tape them inside the CD case. I then made a template on my computer and input the contents of the SD card into the template. I then print that to card stock. The template is then cut out and I slide into the CD case. This is my backup in case I have a crash of my hard drive. I also have them backed up to the cloud as well. SD cards are cheap enough now fo me to do this. I can see if you take tons of photos per year this could become somewhat costly.

I have had a number of cards corrupted and each time I was deleting from the camera…when I don’t delete from the camera, I don’t have issues…ever.

One more reason I have not seen posted. Take from one & add to another. I do a lot of live band & boudoir shoots. When doing a shoot I am letting the camera take many shots at once when the performers or subject are “in the moment”. A great shot of a guitarist/drummer/singer who’s face is displaying the passion of the song can be ruined with a blurred hand or drummer sticks, etc. Or the model is at a great angle but something on the body is just not right. That not so good shot that some might delete in camera I will use the hand or the drum sticks that are not blurred, or a part of a body, and layer mask them together making a more satisfying finished product..
Or the table shots at “events”. Everyone looks great but one person’s eyes are closed, or someone opened their mouth to talk, or someone is chewing. in the next photo they look fine but someone else does not. Having the ability to combine some from bad into good makes for a better finished product.
Also agree with the comment from Johnny Newell. Every shoot I do the moment after I have download them to my computer I also backup to an external harddrive. No way am I losing the work to a crashed computer. And after completed editing to a finished product is then uploaded to that external harddrive AND to my phone which then has them “in the cloud”. Perfect example – my phone was stolen on a cruise this past August. When my new phone was activated all those photos downloaded into the phone from the cloud.

As a rule neither my wife nor I delete images on camera for two reasons:

1. the LCD screen on camera is too small to make “delete” decisions. We make those decisions on our PC’s

2 . it saves on battery power

As far as formatting versus deleting is concerned in over 10 years of shooting digital i have only formatted a card 3 times – 3 times! We download to our PC and then delete all the images after putting the card back in the camera, certain that we have downloaded our images beforehand. Cards are solid state electronics with no moving parts so I call a major BS on this article.

Sorry, but this doesn’t need to be an ‘absolute rule’. I have been deleting via the camera for decades now and have yet to have an issue. You could just as easily corrupt your card via the computer too. It’s the nature of electronic devices.
Don’t freak out over this. If you don’t want to delete in camera, by all means then don’t. Otherwise, you’re falling for hype here.

i shoot hockey and i delete shots between periods…. I only delete the obvious ones. out of focus, ones where there is only a skate exiting the frame and the like! i download the rest when i get home after the game and then re-format my card in camera. Never had a problem… yet… knock on wood!

I have a Canon Rebel XTi 12MP camera and have deleted images through the years, and yes, I have had the cards get partially corrupted when deleting images. It might not happen most of the time, but It can happen, and I don’t understand that, but it happened more than once. Reformatting removes any corrupted area. I wonder if moisture or
salt can cause a problem also. I had pictures with parts of them blanked out. (only a few).

Sorry guys , but I’ll continue to delete what I want when I want. Its my money I’m spending on my cards. When and if the card goes bad so be it. Has’nt happend yet after years of use. When the day comes that I can afford a memory card I’ll quit taking pictures.

Acting as data storage for a camera is very light duty for a flash memory. The number of write cycles over the life of a card and camera will be relatively small compared to the rated number of cycles for the flash memory. Erasing random image files on the other hand, can and does occasionally lead to corrupted directory tables. That in turn can lead to the loss of other image files. That is the risk one takes when one chimps and erases images that don’t look good. Huge SD cards are relatively cheap and there is no excuse in this day of having a card that is small enough to incentify deleting “bad” images so that there is more room on the card.

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