Keep your photo rejects

When you make as many images as I do it stands to reason that there will be a lot of images that simply are not good enough to bother with. This post will discuss some reason to keep your photo rejects, but first a few reasons to reject images:

  • Out of focus images,
  • Overexposed or underexposed images,
  • Accidental shutter clicks,
  • The “I really was just playing around” photo,
  • Test exposures,

The list could go on, and if you have some to add, please share in the comment section.

No matter the reason for rejecting, never delete them from the card in camera. This could damage the card and the “keeper” images you spent so much time making. Just leave the rejects on the card until after downloading the images you want to keep. You can then safely format the card in camera which will get rid of all the images. This is the best way to clear images off a card. Let me stress; NEVER format a card until you are certain you have a copy of all the images you want to keep safely stored someplace else. Preferably in multiple places, at least one of which is off-site (i.e. in the cloud).

Reasons to keep your photo rejects

The image at the top is obviously a post processed version. Heavily processed, at that. It was made at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Here is the original.

Fountain - Reasons to keep your photo rejects

The reason I initially put this in the reject category is that it just wasn’t very interesting and I didn’t want to spend much time making it interesting. Keeping it would only mean joining a thousand other rejects that I have kept thinking I might do something with them later.

The colors are nice, and it might make a nice background or texture. So, I decided to keep it. This brings us to the first reason to keep the rejects.

Going beyond what you envisioned for the image.

What we originally see may not be what an image is to be. Give it some time. A few days, weeks, months, even years down the road you may come back to an image and discover a gem.

Obviously, an image that is out of focus, badly exposed, or has other technical problems may be more difficult to redeem. Go ahead and reject and even discard those. But keep in mind that modern imaging software is getting better every day at even fixing the worst technical issues.

About a year ago I started using Luminar in my workflow. This month Luminar 4 was released and after using it on a few images I found myself wondering if there were some that I deleted in the past that would have benefited from some of the new tools Luminar 4 gives me.

Shameless promotion: Get Luminar 4 using my link ( and referral discount code LUMINAR-FRIEND and get a $10 discount.

Luminar 4 logo

One of the things I like best about Luminar 4 is that you buy it, rather than rent it. Pay once. Use it forever.

Make it an abstract

That’s what I did with the image of the fountain.

At first I couldn’t see any reason to keep it. Then I thought, “what if.”

What if I played around in Photoshop with it for a few minutes. That’s all it took. Just a few minutes in Photoshop. I applied a filter called “twirl.” If you use Photoshop the filter is found under the menu item “filter.” Go figure. Then select “Distort” and “Twirl.”

Take the slider at the bottom where you want. I moved it all the way to the right to get the effect at the top.

It took all of two minutes.

This is an image I may experiment with in Luminar 4. There are some great AI tools that are not available in Adobe products. If I do further experimentation on this photo, expect posts down the line.

Which leads to the next point.


Don’t be afraid to open up any of your photo editing software and experiment. Play around in the sandbox. Even though you are working with a reject image, be careful to make a copy to play with. Always keep a clean original, and if you are able shoot RAW and always keep your RAW files. These are your digital negatives.

I hope you found these three reasons to keep your photo rejects helpful. What reasons would you add? Let us know in the comments.

Looking back over past post I found this isn’t the first time I have written on this subject. Back in January I wrote about another reject candidate in a post titled, Reasons to Keep a Rejected Image. Go check it out.

If you liked this post and would like to get an email alert when I post new stuff and post new photographs and updates you can register to get my periodic email. New members will receive a download link to the image, “Twirl,” at the top of this page as a way to say thanks.

Thanks for spending a few minutes with me and reading this post. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated, either below or email me. If your photography related question is beneficial to a wider audience, it may be the subject of a future post.