I have a confession to make. It isn't a confession I'm particularly proud of, but it is a true confession nonetheless. Here goes: Some of my most popular photographs languished for five or more years on a hard drive unedited before they ever saw the light of day.
How can that be? If you sift through some of the photos below, each of which wasn't discovered until at least five years after it was first recorded with my camera, some of them are award winning photos and/or some of my best sellers when it comes to prints. Some might find this absolutely impossible. But it's true.
When I go out and take photos, sometimes I will take a thousand or more photos. Sometimes I even take a thousand or more photos two or three days in a row. If I'm at an event, such as branding cattle on a ranch, I might capture 2,000 to 3,000 photos in a day. Maybe more. Now I almost always grade my photos that same day...often in the wee hours of the morning or late at night. It can take a long time sifting through 1,000 to 3,000 photos. Trust me. And sometimes you just miss a photo. Other times you grade a photo worse than it should be graded either by accident or maybe my digital editing skills are advanced enough to take an average photograph and turn it into something everyone will remember. Whatever the reason, each of the photos below are examples of shots that remained hidden for years before I went back, looked at my negatives again, and decided to edit them.
What's the moral of the story? Some might think it is, "Take your time grading your photos." Yes, I suppose that could be true. But the better advice is to never delete any of your digital negatives. Save them. Save them all. You never know when they might prove more valuable than they are when you first took them. You never know if a client wants to see other photos from the same shoot. And you never know what you miss the first time around.
Yes, it can cost a lot to save every photo you make in terms of network storage devices and hard drives. But if just one of those photos ends up making a sale for you, you might end up paying for all of that hardware in one fell swoop.