Overexposed background shot with a flash on RICOH GR II in P (program) mode. Creates a strong figure to ground because Cindy’s face is well lit, the background is very bright. This picture is strong, because it creates a DYNAMIC CONTRAST between Cindy’s face and the backdrop.

How to Delete Your Pictures

Cindy white face. Saigon, 2017

We all know how to shoot pictures— but how few of us know how to delete pictures?

What is a memory?

Cindy stretching backwards. Saigon, 2017
Cindy stretching backwards. Saigon, 2017

I think in today’s digital world, to have the discipline to delete a picture is far more difficult than having the discipline to make a picture.

Self portrait. Saigon, 2017
Self portrait. Saigon, 2017

We are all digital hoarders. Why? A fear of losing a memory. Why do we fear losing our memories? We feel that by losing our memories… we lose a bit of our soul, or who we are.

Mistake: You are not your memories. You are not your pictures of your memories. You are you— right now, in the present moment.

I’m drowning


I foresee in the future, you will start seeing more apps and services that promote the DELETION or editing/curation of images, instead of the backing up of images.

Why? We are drowning in a digital sea of images. The attention, energy, and time needed to sift through all those images is wasteful, stressful, and time-consuming.

How do you learn to let go in order to delete your pictures? Some ideas:

1. Gratitude

My mom in bed. Hanoi, 2017.
My mom in bed. Hanoi, 2017.

Take a cold shower. Take a deep breath. Look at your picture, and like Marie Kando, say, “Thank you for sparking joy in my life”. Then delete it, and wish it a peaceful journey into the boat ride into the digital hades.

2. Know what to keep, and what to delete

My grandma, laughing. Seoul, 2017.
My grandma, laughing. Seoul, 2017.

The foolish thing is to delete all your pictures. Only keep the ones which are truly meaningful to you.

For the really really meaningful pictures, learn how to delete them.

3. Digital Darwinism

The conductor. Downtown LA, 2009
The conductor. Downtown LA, 2009

If your picture on some hard drive, collecting dust, hasn’t “survived” until now— it did not deserve to live.

Don’t go back, shuffling through old hard drives— trying to find “hidden gems” in your archive of pictures.

Make 1 truly great picture before you die

Cindy elevator hanoi

Even if you have made 5 good and meaningful pictures up until now, that is enough.

And better yet, if you die with just 1 truly great picture under your belt, you have succeeded as a photographer.

Let go and BE STRONG!


MASTERS: First Edition Book


Why do you make photos? Reflect in PHOTO JOURNAL: