With every new year— it is a chance for us to burn the past, and start this new year afresh.
In photography, we are obsessed with documentation. With recording the past. With capturing moments which are precious to us, and immortalizing them.
In photography, not only do we seek immortality of moments through taking photos, but also through backing up our photos. We archive our photos by printing them out, by making redundant copies on our hard drives, or now — uploading them to the “cloud.”
But I’ve been thinking recently— being a human is to forget. We naturally filter our memories, to keep only the good ones, and to forget the negative or the superfluous memories. Imagine what a nightmare it would be to remember everything that happened in your life. You would be a prisoner in the past, unable to enjoy the present moment, or to start looking forward to the future.
What I fear
Therefore at the start of this new year, I’m starting to re-think my philosophy on backing up images. I looked at my archive of all the photos I shot (digitally) in 2016, and my first plan was to carefully comb through all my images, in case I missed any good photos or “keepers.”
I then realized — if a moment was really that important to me, I would have already uploaded it on my blog, on social media, or exported as a JPEG image and backed up on the cloud.
I have obsessively backed up (all) my images since 2009 — when I started seriously shooting. But honestly, I know I will never know that I will look at those old photos again. But what keeps me from deleting those past images? A fear. A fear that I might accidentally delete something important or special. A fear that by deleting my past photos, I am deleting my past memories. A fear of forgetting the past.
I still kept the important photos
Going back to the point at hand, I looked at my catalogue of 2016 photos, and in a split moment of clarity— deleted all the photos. I had all the “keeper” photos from 2016 backed up on Dropbox and my hard drive. But for all the photos I shot in 2016 — I deleted them all.
Don’t be a digital hoarder
There are now services like Google Photos that literally uploads all your photos (unlimited, although at a lower resolution) for free. But what is the point of overly hoarding the past? Many of us digital nomads look down on hoarding physical possessions— but how few of us look down on digital information hoarding.
I want to start this year fresh. I’m still trying to figure out what old things to purge, delete, clear out, and start afresh. Perhaps that might mean deleting all my old emails, deleting my past regrets, deleting my past memories, and starting fresh.
New Day Resolutions
Taking this a step further— what if we started each day fresh? Why do we only think of starting afresh when it comes to the new year? Why can’t we treat each day like a new day; unburdened by the past?
What do I want out of this year?
In terms of why I deleted all my photos from 2016— I want to start 2017 fresh. I don’t want any of my past work to hold me back, restrict my creativity, or my options. I don’t want to be a slave to my past photography, or my past “style.” I want to be reborn like a child, as if I picked up the camera for the first time.
I never want to stop exploring. I never want to stop being curious. I never want to stop shooting.
Perhaps this means I need to delete my past self, and look forward to making the best of today.
How to start fresh in your photography
If you want a fresh start to your photography, you don’t need to take as drastic measures as me. You can do small things, such as:
- Go back to your social media stream, and delete photos that no longer at personally-meaningful to you.
- Reformat your hard drive, and start from scratch.
- Archive all your unread emails, and start your email afresh.
- Go to your photography portfolio, remove all of your photo projects, and re-upload the ones that are meaningful to you.
- Make a list of photography not to do resolutions for this year (don’t leave the house without a camera, don’t hesitate before taking a photo, don’t regret any missed photo opportunities)
Let us make us make this year an incredible one.
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