When you are choosing a photographer for your family, one thing to check is how they ensure your photos will be kept safely until they are delivered to you. After all, a lot can happen to that important digital information between taking your photos and delivering them to you.
After a scare early in my photography career, when I thought that hundreds of images had been lost due to a corrupt memory card (I recovered them, thankfully!), I created a workflow for handling your precious photos to guard against loss.
- Record duplicate images to different memory cards while shooting.
My camera, the Canon 5D Mark IV, has two memory card slots – one for a CompactFlash card, and one for an SD card. The camera defaults to writing to one of these cards at a time, but there’s another option that allows me to record duplicate images to the two cards simultaneously. So, from the get-go, I have two copies of your images in case one of the cards fails.
2. Transfer a copy of your photos to my laptop for editing.
The CompactFlash cards are faster and more expensive, so I have only a few of these cards that I rotate through for each session. I use these cards to transfer your images to my laptop and then format them for the next session.
3. Keep the extra copy of your photos on SD in case my laptop fails, breaks or is (eek!) lost or stolen.
The SD cards are less expensive, so I have lots of them. Once I’ve finished shooting your session, I put the card back in its plastic case and keep the photos on there until I’ve finished editing your session and have uploaded your photos to an online gallery.
4. Backup my laptop.
I use Crashplan to constantly keep a virtual copy of the data and photos on my laptop. So if my laptop does fail, break, or is (eek!) lost or stolen, I can download the images back onto my new or restored computer.
5. Upload your retouched images to an online gallery.
My website host, Zenfolio, does not have a storage limit for the number of JPG photos they host for me. I still have every retouched client image that I’ve taken since 2011 on my Zenfolio server (when I started using them as my site host). This allows me to easily re-list client sessions if they want to place a future order and revisit earlier sessions when I’m preparing to meet their newest baby and welcome them back for another session.
After I’ve uploaded the retouched images and sent the links to my clients, it’s then that I allow myself to overwrite the SD memory card.
6. Keep all RAW images on my laptop until payment is received.
On very rare occasions, clients have asked me if I captured more of a particular pose, and I want to make sure they’re happy with their photos before I remove the originals. Since storage space is expensive, and the original RAW files are very large, once payment is received, I delete the unretouched images. (Zenfolio does not allow for unlimited RAW image hosting, as they do for JPGs).
7. Back up retouched images to an external hard drive.
Yes, one more system! After I’ve finished processing your orders, have added your photos to my Recent Work feed and my portfolio, I move your retouched images from my laptop to an external hard drive. I have every single retouched client image I’ve ever taken stored on external hard drives.
Wow! By writing this all out, I’ve even impressed myself! This is how much I care about the work I’m creating for you. I never want you to lose your images, and yes, I have had clients contact me for copies of photos from years ago that they lost in a hard-drive crash! It feels amazing to be able to quickly get those images back to them. Though I cannot guarantee that I’ll always have every image (after all, technology changes constantly and disasters do happen!), it is my hope and desire to keep them for as long as is possible.