Digital photos have no mass, they are not physical, although they do take up space; hard drive space, virtual space, mental space.
Photographers are often proud of the number of photos they take. It is honorable to be prolific. The more we produce, the better we feel about our effort. The more we produce the more we have.
Often we hear the comment that if you take lots of photos a few are bound to come out, whatever your skill level. I don’t know if we all really believe that, though. Quality does not come from volume. Volume comes from volume. More of good stuff is great, but more of mediocre stuff is just stuff.
When it took effort to produce photos and had to spend time developing film and making prints, producing a huge body of work was impressive. The photos may have been terrible but the discipline it took to create all those photos was admirable.
But now taking photos is super easy and digital storage is almost free. Hard drives are huge and cloud storage is unlimited. So why not keep everything? You never know when you’ll want to go back and resurrect a photo you did not prioritize the first time around. But chances are you probably won’t unless you liked it in the first place. Mostly you’ll want to work on new ones instead of going back and working or printing photos you didn’t want to work on or print in the first place.
Now the discipline is reversed. Now it takes discipline to ‘delete’ photos, not to make them. Now it takes tough love. Becoming a better photographer means finding and taking the best pictures we can and not taking pictures that don’t cut it. But, we push the envelope. It’s better to go after a shot and fail than to not try. Then you are the proud owner of a failed photo. It’s OK to delete all your failures and near hits. In fact, that’s what make you better.