The Challenges of Unlimited Photographs

Digital photography is both a blessing and a curse! And for many different reasons. While digital photography makes our job as photographers somewhat easier, there are many challenges that must be addressed.

One of the positive aspects of digital photography is obviously the ability to quickly see the results of pressing the shutter release button and thus the ability learn from our mistakes and to make corrections on the fly. But with that ability comes the downside that is not often discussed. Let me outline a few.



This is the first issue. Remember those 1000 shots of the sun setting into the horizon off the coast while you were driving down the coast last summer? Well, they are still sitting on your hard-drive, aren’t they? And chances are as those drives continue to fill up you’ll be buying more and more drives for such the occasion as going through them “when I get home.”

Contributing to this problem is the fact that storage is cheap. Last time I checked you could get a 1 terabyte drive for less than $100. So the tendency is to just get a new drive when the need arises. But, to be safe, you’ll also want backup those drives, preferably to an off-site spot, and you’ll probably want a cloned copy for extra insurance.

Storage also become an issue as the drives you are using become more and more fragmented (although this can be avoided by ‘defraging’ from time-to-time) and file access times become slow. You may also need to consider storage needs while traveling (I always carry an external drive). All these costs (i.e., primary drive, backup drive, extra memory cards) start to add up but because they are small and incremental while they occur they seem inconsequential.



Most people complain about not having enough time in our day, I know that I do, but yet we go out and spend more and more of it by shooting more than we need to. Time is spent, er wasted, in a couple of different ways.

First, there is the time it take to review all those photographs. Lynette and I took almost 1300 images at our last wedding, and guess what, someone needs to go through each and every time. With a little more diligence on our part before hitting the shutter release, and in some cases anticipating the action better,  we could probably cut that number by at least 1/3. If it takes us 5 seconds to review a shot and decide if it stays or goes, 1300 images will be 6500 seconds or almost 2 hours to review. We could easily knock 45 minutes of that by just being a little more discerning in our shooting.

Time also comes into play while transferring images to our computer. Most people can think of other thing to do while these transfers are happening, but for a lot of people, they slow down computer speed as the hard-drives is constantly being accessed and written to.

Finally, there is the backup issues again. Extra photographs mean extra time backing up. Multiply our wedding shoots, or any shoot for that matter, by the number of shoots over the course of a year and we’ve added hours to our backup schedule (not to mention the additional costs if those backups are send to a remote service).



The final issue is a bit harder to quantify. Many years ago (too many to mention a specific date) I started learning photography on film. Film did have one big advantage over digital- either I started learning to take better photos or I stopped shooting because of the cost of film and developing. That is not the case today. Most people can now take thousands of really bad photos because there is no cost barrier once the camera and cards are purchased. If a consumer doesn’t have a desire to learn to improve, they are more likely to continue shooting bad photographs.


I hope that I didn’t completely rain on your parade. On the whole there are more positive benefits to nearly limitless shooting in digital photography than there are negative, just a few things to be aware of (if you can you think of any other issues photographers should be aware add them to the comments below).

Happy shooting,


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