I've deleted most of mine that had accumulated, and they do get deleted from your Hubs.
I had built up a giant accumulation of images that may have been fine enough as something added to a Hub, but the whole "collection" of them made my "recent images" part of my profile look like one, big, giant, collection of crappy images. They were either "lightweight", public domain/clip art type of stuff (or maybe an illustration/graphic I did myself) or else they were my own not-particularly-expert photos of things like flowers or the sky (that I used to essentially add color to a Hub/subject that didn't particularly lend themselves to "relevant photos". So, on my profile, was that big collection of either crappy clip-art type stuff or else my own "photography" (if you can call it that). With my own stuff, though, I did want to retain control over where each image appeared; because I never know if I may want to use it somewhere else where a requirement is that an image has never been used anywhere else. I used those "iffy" pictures because I thought they were still better than those canned Internet images that scream "canned".
So a few months back I cleaned out most of four years' worth of pictures (except the few that I wanted left in their Hub) and got rid of most pictures from most of my Hubs. A consequence, of course, is that my Hubs don't look like the latest version of "a stellar Hub" (which involves adding pictures and whatever else to one's Hub). Recently I've added a few Hubs with pictures again (although one is a good public-domain one that actually looks good, and the other couple/few I added just to add some color to a few more visible Hubs on the profile.
I took off my profile the stuff that I thought made it (and me) look horrible. I have no reason to think it helped my traffic. My traffic is about as low as its ever been (but so is a lot other people's). Maybe stripping out all those pictures at a time when HP is pushing pictures in Hubs. I can't be sure, but I have no reason to believe that removing pictures didn't put yet another dent in already dented traffic. I knew I was taking that risk, but I had my reasons. I, personally, don't think "cumbersome" is particularly the right reason for throwing one's whole bunch of Hubs into upheaval. :/ :/ (Seeing them, and dealing with them (images), all in one, big, place like that is obnoxious though, isn't it?? :) :)