Update on the Ultimate Clear the Clutter Challenge – Processing or Deleting the Image Backlog

Samantha started it all off on May 22 when she gave herself until June 30 to tackle her horrendous backlog of unprocessed raw files gathering digital dust on her hard drives. Sam said that whatever was not processed by June 30th would be deleted forever. Wow, harsh eh?

But after thinking about it for some time, it sounded like a good idea… and so with some fits and starts and hesitation, I opted to join Sam on the Ultimate Clear the Clutter Challenge. And even Stephen, our eBook designer and website guru was inspired to join us albeit without the big bad ‘delete’ part of the equation.

And so what’s the progress? Sam started with 89 folders. As of today, she only has 13 folders of images left to do! Two or three more days of concerted effort and Sam will be done – yahoo! For me it’s so great to see Sam’s images come to life. She was ruthless and many images did not make the cut and hit the trash bin but the ones she kept I find really inspiring. Good job Sam!

©Samantha Chrysanthou - A visit to Kamloops area in .

©Samantha Chrysanthou – A visit to Kamloops area in 2011.

Aspen trees near Kamloops, British Columbia

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Our friend and fellow photographer Kelly Pape from Kamloops is hiding in this shot. (Check out her diverse talent on her website; she can shoot anything.)

Aspen trees near Kamloops, British Columbia

©Samantha Chrysanthou

For me progress has been much slower. I had to deal with my thousands and thousands of slides from the film days first. What to do with those images? How should I store them for our one year creative sabbatical? In the end I have them in a cool dry place all packaged up safely but that took many days. Progress on the digital front is much slower. I started with 199 folders to edit and process and I am still at 149 folders left to date. Yikes! But as I look over my folders I am going to take Sam’s lead and delete ruthlessly keeping only top drawer stuff to process. If I already have stuff that is better, delete it. If the image is just more of the same, delete it. If the image is flawed in any way compositionally, delete it.

Sam does not think I will get my backlog edited and processed by June 30. I think I can do it (even with all the  house packing that still needs to be done). So I made her a bet. If I don’t get done, I will give one of our newsletter subscribers a 20 image portfolio review for free (drawn at random). The subscriber gets detailed feedback on their images in the form of a personalized PDF (value $200). If you don’t think I will get done either, then sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already (upper right of this post). You can unsubscribe at any time, and even if you don’t win a personalized portfolio review, we often have special contests and advance notice of workshops just for subscribers. (Check out our privacy policy too.)

And If I do get my images done, then what should be Sam’s punishment for losing the bet? I am open to suggestions ; )

©Darwin Wiggett - Another from 2005; unlike scotch, images do not get better with age!

©Darwin Wiggett – Shot in September 2005, not processed until June 2014!

©Darwin Wiggett - Workshop participants from September 2005 on Abraham Lake

©Darwin Wiggett – Workshop participants from September 2005 on Abraham Lake.

©Darwin Wiggett - Consolation Lakes hike from September 2005

©Darwin Wiggett – Consolation Lakes hike from September 2005.

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.


  1. Henrik
    June 17, 2014

    Once more, some very nice pictures that you dug out of your photographic vaults .
    Sometimes it can rip you apart to leave some stuff you *think* you’d put to good use later on. But going through your stuff and letting go will end up in keeping the true gems of your productive work. In my workflow I try to delete as much possible first of a photo event (mostly walking around the block), process a portion of it as soon as possible into jpg, and finally deleting most of the raw files with the exception of a handful of them (to be potentially able to post process them again).
    That way I keep my pile of unprecessed photos under control, so that I can be ready for the next load … in the end, Photography is “just” recorded memory and you should be prepared for the next good moments to be captured in the present !
    BTW: I also described my workflow on my spherical panoramas in my Pano Tutorial http://www.mopswerk.de/panorama-tutorial/ … at first glance it looks like a process monster, but within control you may find creative freedom 😉 !

  2. Jane Chesebrough
    June 19, 2014

    I like the beauty of Abraham lake with calm and high water and reflection of the sky. Also the beech or birch with the meandering water in the background.As for de-cluttering my space, Ha! I just got back from two days of shooting and am sure that I filled up the coffers again.


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