What is your backup process?
Backing up photos is something we think about often, but often fail to do! Perhaps your data is not critically important and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it was lost. More often than not things are now stored in a cloud, and the responsibility for us individuals to back up our data is no longer our responsibility. Rest assured, the could data is very safe, while it may not be private, it’s likely to be safe with redundant backup systems that far exceed anything a home owner could expect to attain.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Do you have a process in place as a wedding photographer for the photos that are stored onto your Compact Flash or SD cards? [/pullquote]
What about situations where cloud storage is not regularly available? Specifically, do you have a process in place as a wedding photographer for the photos that are stored onto your Compact Flash or SD cards? How reliable is that process? If your someone getting married, considering a wedding photographer, what lengths do you expect the photographer to go to insure your pictures are safe?
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What lengths do you expect the photographer to go to insure your pictures are safe?[/pullquote]
There are a few things you should must invest in to protect your clients work.
- Laptop with USB 3.0 and decent internal storage. I use a Apple 13″ MacBook Pro
- USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader. I use a Transcend USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader
- USB 3.0 External Hard Drive (USB powered). I use a WD My Passport
- A collection of high quality memory cards. I use SanDisk Extreme PRO Compact Flash 32G
Day of the Wedding
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A memory card could go bad or a drunk could spill a drink on your gear trashing a card.[/pullquote]
If you backup your photos from your memory cards when you get home at the end of a long wedding day shoot, you’re putting yourself at a huge risk. There are many variables that can occur during a day that leads to loss of data. A camera could be stolen, you could get in a car accident on the way home, a memory card could go bad, a drunk could spill a drink on your gear trashing a card. There are a ton of scenarios that puts your irreplaceable data at risk, and it’s not entirely uncommon either. A quick google search of ‘wedding photographer nightmares’ will demonstrate many of the scenarios that can occur throughout such a long and exhausting day.
Wait… Morning of the Wedding
There is always a scenario exists where your data is at risk. There could be a giant solar flare that turns into a huge EMP that wipes all data in the world! The best we can hope for, is to minimize that risk to the best of our ability. Backing up data at the end of the day is not to the best of our ability.
Typically, a wedding progresses in phases. You may start by taking photos at the house of the bride getting ready. From here you travel to a church for a ceremony which would be the next phase. Then traveling from the church to a reception hall would be another phase where portraits and group photos are done. The last phase may be photographing the reception itself. There are many ways the day unfolds and each wedding is planned differently, but regardless of the plan there is usually some downtime in driving, waiting, setting up, etc.
Use Multiple Memory Cards (and Cameras)
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If a camera and card were to somehow get trashed, I still have something to deliver to a client. [/pullquote]
I shoot with two cameras, I currently use a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 5D Mark II as a backup. In all honesty, I shoot far more pictures on the Canon Mark III, but I always take some with the Mark II. There is a twofold purpose to using two cameras on a wedding; first I don’t need to switch lenses, I keep my long lens (70-200MM) on the 5D Mark III, and a my trusty 24-105MM on the 5D Mark II. More importantly if a camera and card were to somehow get trashed, I still have something to deliver to a client. I could lose 70% of my pictures, and still have between 500 and 1000 photos in which to create the memories of the day.
Next, I backup all my memory cards after each phase of the wedding day. It only takes a few minutes to dump my cards using a USB 3.0 card reader. The cards are dumped to my Macbook Pro very quickly. From there, I also backup all the pictures to a small external USB powered external hard drive.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Diversify your card usage, and backup mediums to minimize your risk![/pullquote]
I repeat this process at the end of each segment of the day. I try to manage memory cards and storage like I would investments in a retirement account. Diversify! We diversify investments to minimize risk. Diversify your card usage, and backup mediums to minimize your risk!
Shooting a wedding I prefer to have an assistant, and I think it’s well worth it to have an extra set of hands. Be it helping organize people into a row, double checking everyone looks neat during portraits and lastly and most importantly, the assistant takes the external hard drive home with them. If my house burns down, or I explode in a car wreck the client will still have a set of photos from the day.
The total for all the equipment, less an actual laptop which many already own, is under $500 including a several high capacity, highest speed memory cards available. If you are a professional photographer charging $1000’s of dollars for a wedding, using $1000’s of dollars worth of equipment, then spending $500 to protect your clients investment should be a drop in the bucket. If you don’t have a backup system this reliable for a wedding than you should consider a different photography niche.
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