Keep or Ditch?

In today’s brave new world of photography, we are drowning with images.

Social media is endless visual spaghetti

We are drowning in images. In our own images, and the images of others.

There is a never ending bowl of visual spaghetti– filling our stomachs, minds, and consuming our attention.

The visual bombardment is relentless.

I’m drowning in images

Tokyo, 2016

In today’s world, you need to know what images to keep or ditch.

For example, if you take 1,000 photos– I would recommend you to only keep the few which are truly meaningful to you. And ditch the rest.

Keep or ditch?

Tokyo, 2016

I’m sorry, but you gotta do it binary: keep or ditch?

If you are unsure about a photo, or “maybe” about a photo– it might mean you should ditch it.

Once again:

Ditch “maybe” photos.

Let your ditched photos die on your hard drive

SF, 2015

You don’t gotta delete ditched photos. Takes too much time. Just let them die on the digital ether. Let them die on your hard drive, storage, or die on the cloud.

How do I know which photos to keep?

NYC, 2015

How do you know whether to keep a photo or not?


  1. Emotion: Do you feel an emotional reaction to your photo? If you don’t feel your heart stirred by your own photo, why keep it?
  2. Composition: in your eyes is the composition of the photo strong? Is the photo devoid of distractions or superfluous elements? Does the photo have good propositions and visual harmony?
  3. Soul: can you see a little of yourself and your soul in your photos? Are you the only one who could have made that photo?

When in doubt, throw it out

Downtown LA, 2016 (Ricoh GR II)

There a saying, when you see food in the refrigerator and you’re not sure whether it is food or not,

When in doubt, throw it out.

Not sure if that milk is expired, or still good to drink?

When in doubt, throw it out.

Not sure whether your photo is good or not?

When in doubt, throw it out.

I think your photo should either be a “hell fucking yeah!” or a “no.”

Avoid “maybe” photos.

What to keep/ditch in real life?

Istanbul, 2013

I actually think in living life, is important to know what to keep or ditch.

Which of your friends, family, or acquaintances will you keep– and who will you ditch?

Which positive memories from your life do you keep, and which negative memories do you ditch?

What few possessions do you want to keep in life, and what superfluous shit do you wanna ditch?

Think of keep/ditch as a life philosophy.

Hell fucking yeah! Or no.

Originally got the idea from Derek Sivers. The idea:

When making big life decisions, only do things that are a “hell fucking yeah!”

If you are given an opportunity in life (job offer, romantic partner, something to experience) and you feel “meh” or luke-warm about it, say “no.”

I try to apply this in my life the following way:

  • For business opportunities, I only take business opportunities that are a “hell fucking yeah!” — even if the pay isn’t good. I would rather go for business opportunities that excite me.
  • For travel, only go to cities that I feel a “hell fucking yeah!” for– for example, Kyoto, Tokyo, and New York.
  • For photography: only photograph what I feel passionately and strongly about.

Don’t listen to me

This is just another mental model for seeing and interacting in the world. It works for me, and has helped simplify my life– via these practical “good enough”, “satisficing”, “heuristics”. It has helped me make better decisions in my life with less stress, anxiety, fear, and hesitation.

Tokyo, 2016

For more thoughts on the mind and decision-making, I recommend the books:

  • Thinking, fast and slow
  • Antifragile
  • The Paradox of Choice

I’ve re-read each of those books at least three times.

Keep/Ditch in photography

Tokyo, 2016

There’s a pretty popular thread on the ERIC KIM FORUM: keep/ditch >

The concept is simple, upload a photo, and you have to write “keep” or “ditch” on the three prior photos.

Tokyo, 2016

Of course, getting a keep or ditch isn’t the best feedback. But it’s better than nothing.



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Seoul, 2009

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