As a photographer at some point in your career, you are going to delete an image that you will need. Or even worse your entire memory card will become unreadable and you will have lost an entire day of work. This could be made even worse if that day is someone’s wedding.
Losing photos, damaging a memory card or deleting images that you need is never fun and can sometimes have high financial consequences. To help you minimise the risk of this happening to you we have put together this post on how you can keep your photos safe.
Why backup your images?
Backing up your photos is a time-intensive process that could lead some photographers to think it’s not worth the hassle of doing so. With modern cameras and memory cards being reliable too it can sometimes feel like a waste of time. However, it only takes one time for your images to disappear to make you wish you had a backup plan for your images.
Devices, cables and even human error can lead to images being unreadable or destroyed. If you are a hobbyist photographer then maybe you don’t have to take the backup process so seriously, but for anyone working in a commercial space, you should have a backup process in place every time you shoot a project.
Digital photography has many advantages over film but unfortunately keeping your images safer isn’t one of them. Digital images can be lost or deleted with the wrong key or mouse click. Therefore if you shoot digital you should keep on reading.
When it comes to backing up your images in our opinion you should have at least 3 different backup options with one of these options being away from your others in case of an event such as a fire.
In this article, we will discuss the easiest and most cost-efficient ways of backing up your photos.
Using recordable media to backup your photos
Recordable media such as CD’s, DVD’s, USB sticks and SD cards are a cheap and easy way of backing up your photos very quickly. The only problem with recordable media devices is that they are small in size and you will more than likely need a few different versions to fit all of your images on especially if you shoot in RAW.
The reason why this is a problem is that these devices are often very small and can get lost easily. However, if you have a process in place that keeps your media safe then this is an option.
If you don’t have a disk drive to make copies of your images onto a CD or DVD you can use an external company to do it for you for a small fee. Companies such as Digital Converters can do this for you and can make backups of your photos and videos onto a wide range of media devices.
If you have a CD burner then you can do this yourself and depending on your drive speed you should be able to copy and burn a disk in a few minutes. Disks may seem like an odd choice for storing photos on but if you are a wedding photographer you can store many weddings in a folder and keep them organised very easily. You would be surprised how many brides will contact you years after shooting a wedding asking if you still have a particular photo at hand.
Using disks is a great way to catalogue your work and keep them safe in the event of the above happening.
Using external hard drives
If disks and thumb drives are just too problematic then an external hard drive is a good choice for backing up your data. External hard drives come in a variety of sizes and can be easily transported too.
The cost of external hard drives has also come down in the last few years so getting a reliable hard drive that has terabytes of storage is easy when you know where to look. Companies such as Seagate offer reliable hard drives at a good price and I have never had a problem with any of the hard drives I have purchased from them.
If you want to see which external hard drive is the best choice for you then check out PC World’s post on the best external hard drives.
When using an external hard drive as a backup I would recommend using another form of media too as if you become reliant on a hard drive to keep all of your images safe you could one day find yourself in trouble if that drive stops working.
Drives, cables and images can corrupt without warning so our advice would be to have a backup of a backup. This may cost you a little more but it could cost you so much more if your backup and original files become corrupt and you can’t access them anymore.
Print out your images to protect them
Printing out your images may be alien to some digital photographers but it’s a great way of preserving your images. You can always scan them in the future to make digital copies of them as well.
Printing your images and storing them somewhere safe is a great way of keeping your photos safe and if you go down this route we would recommend you don’t keep them on the same site as where you have your digital copies. This way if there is ever a fire or a flood you have two separate locations that have the backups of your photos.
The downside to printing your photos is that it is expensive and if you take hundreds of photos at a time it just isn’t cost-effective. Our advice would be to print out your most important images. This will allow you to keep the most important ones safe while still being affordable.
Use the cloud to backup your images
The cloud is one of the best ways for backing up your images and keeping them safe, but what exactly is the cloud?
The cloud is a bunch of servers that are located all around the world that your images can be stored on. The best part about the cloud is that if the device you are on breaks you can simply login on another device and access your images without any problems.
Being a photographer can sometimes put you in sticky situations where your equipment can get broken, rather than losing all of your images. The cloud doesn’t care what device you use to access your images and therefore your images are safer stored on it than on your PC or laptop.
The cloud used to be used mostly by businesses and tech companies to keep their data safe but as technology has progressed the cloud is now used by more personal users and photographers can highly benefit from cloud storage.
Cloud storage is also very affordable and you can access terabytes of storage for less than $100 a year. When looking for cloud storage you should look for companies that are reliable and have a good standing history. You wouldn’t want to go for the cheapest option only to find they have gone out of business in a year and lose all of your images in the process.
If you are considering cloud storage to backup your photos here are a few that you can try out.
Most of these will have free trials too so make the most of them to see which is the best for you.
Cloud storage is also very convenient as you don’t have to physically back your images up yourself. Most of the above companies will have free tools that you can install on your computer to automatically backup any new photos that are found on your computer.
Best practices of backing up your photos
Having a way of backing up your photos is more than most have and as a photographer, for many years I didn’t have a backup of my photos either which I changed one day when my memory card became corrupted and I could only use half the photos that I had taken in a wedding.
From that day onwards I always had a backup process which you should too. Having a device is one thing but having a process is equally as important. You will need to decide what backup devices you should use and how often you should use them.
At the beginning of this article, we talked about having at least three devices and my set up at the moment is to use CD’s and DVD’s to store wedding photos and keep them for at least 3 years. An external hard drive to store my most recent photos and cloud storage so I have a digital copy in place too.
Your setup may be different from mine but this is what works for me and it doesn’t inconvenience me too much or take up too much of my time. Thankfully I haven’t had any other disasters with my photos going missing or being deleted but if it were to happen I now have multiple ways of keeping my photos safe.