What to do with photos?

I’m new to wildlife photography and i mostly shoot invertebrates and birds. I usually delete my photos after uploading them to inaturalist though now i’m thinking maybe it is a good idea to save/store them? I’m trying to see what the consensus is; What do you guys do with your photos?

Definitely keep them :)

Definitely, definitely keep a backup somewhere.


Always keep them. Keep several copies.

I take a lot of wildlife photos and have duplicate back-ups of the RAW images as well as the processed images along with the .xmp files that record the raw-jpg edits. I keep the back-ups two different external hard drives and as much as I can on my primary laptop as well.

Obviously, you can ditch the poor quality images (as long as they do not contain valuable information - what counts as valuable is up to you), but definitely keep all the rest.


I use a DSLR that I upload to my computer, so all of my photos are on my computer. Most phones can do the same if they have a cloud or backup set up.

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Just to be a dissenting voice - I compulsively throw away and delete things. :D I don’t keep copies of the photos I post on inat observations. I’m very picky about which photos I consider ‘good’ enough to keep and share. Most of the ones that end up on inat aren’t good photography by my personal standards, they’re just identifiable and so they’re useful for only that purpose. The few photos I’m really pleased with go on instagram etc and I usually keep copies of the final edited versions but I don’t save RAW or anything else.


Thanks for all the replies!
I’m kinda in line with @JayAvery as i’m more of a “do and forget” guy.
Although i might probably make use of the photos later on, maybe make a profit out of it or use it for scientific publication? hence i think i agree that i should store them.

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The photos uploaded to iNaturalist get reduced in size if they’re larger than 2048 pixels in either dimension. This obviously means that some detail is lost, sometimes quite a lot if the original photo was much larger. Since I discovered this, I’ve gone back and added cropped closeups to some of my old observations, which made them identifiable in a few cases. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t saved the original photos.


I trhough them away

I through them awa and do not keep them

I delete most of mine. Yes memory/storage is cheap and easy but it’s one more step to add to the workflow, particularly if you’re trying to keep them in some kind of organized fashion (= meaningful/understandable folder naming/labeling etc.) and you’re taking hundreds of photos per week.

For particularly unusual/interesting species with uncertain IDs, however, I’ll hold onto them. Not simply for higher resolution, but in some cases an expert observer/identifier will be interested in a particular feature/body part that I didn’t include a great picture of in my original posted observation.

Each person will develop a “system” that works for them over time, informed by experience and some trial and error. If I were in your position I’d err on the side of keeping photos for a couple of months and then reassess after you’ve had more experience :)


I say delete as if you are like me you post the best of your options. In addition if you don’t have unlimited storage you have a good way to manage it. Plus, once in iNaturlist, it’s there for ever as research:). What I am most curious about is if they have developed a way to input sounds created by the video selection of camera phones. I have good quality sound from wood frogs I would love to add but currently can’t.

When I take photos with my DSLR, I delete all the bad photos and keep the good ones. I upload the good ones to iNat or eBird but also store the raw files and edits in an external drive. I’ve also uploaded all of the older ones to Google Drive at one point.

When I take pictures with my phone for iNaturalist I usually delete them though, unless I really like the photos for some reason. The photos usually aren’t good quality and I only intended them for iNat anyway.

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I wholeheartedly hope that is true, but there are never any guarantees. Think about the average life expectancy of web sites over the past 3 decades. There is every reason to think that iNaturalist will be well above average, but will it be immortal? Again, I hope so!

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Backups are useful (and temporary). Nothing is immortal, not storage media, and certainly not web databases. Storage is baggage. Destruction is renewal.

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We recommend all users back up their own media, even if uploaded to iNaturalist. See https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/what+is+it


I am more of a hobby photographer than a naturalist, honestly (I photograph lots of things that aren’t going to get posted to iNat) so I have a whole system with more than one backup option.

But something that’s pleasing me a lot at the moment is Google Photos. The free option will upload your photos in ‘high quality, but not original quality’ which is basically the same for anyone who isn’t a professional, and if you’re short on space you could just store them in there and delete the originals.

My actual filing system could use work, though. If I’m not photographing an important event or trip, everything just gets filed by date. I should probably be tagging them…

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Of all the backup options (between cloud and external drives mainly unless I am not aware of something else) what is the most economical?

I feel tempted to toss everything sometimes just because of the sheer overwhelming number of photos I take, my techno-phobic mindset /ignorance of technologies and the complexity of storage. I know it’s silly but I long for the mostly ignorance-proof, romanticized method of prints in shoe boxes though I’d have an entire building filled with boxes at this point.

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I have a 1 TB hard drive that I originally got for gaming but I have a hunch it will mostly be storing my photos (hopefully not that many though)!

Aside from storage, what else do you do with you’re pictures? Do you use them in anything?

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Keep the nice ones (and make a photo books out of them, with their IDs added), dump the boring ones.