I‘m super excited to get back to some educational blog posts this year as time allows, and can’t wait to share about this SUPER important topic for both photographers AND brides and grooms! I’m going to write it from the stand point of a photographer to photographers, but at the end will share some details about how it can apply to couples and their search for the right wedding photographer for them!
Photographers, this post might come as a bit of tough love, but know that I am talking to myself a la 2012 from my first couple years in business as well. It is all so overwhelming when you start, especially if you are choosing to take on weddings, and I think sometimes the tech issues of being a photographer take the back seat. But one of the most important, first tech considerations you must figure out is how you are going to back up your wedding images (really, any images, but ESPECIALLY weddings and births!) to ensure that you never lose your images for a client. First, the elephant in the room: memory cards can and do fail. There is a lot of research out about how long they work well for and how you can protect them from image loss, but the truth is, technology DOES fail. What I wish I could recommend is that every wedding/birth photographer would only photograph with cameras that double record to 2 memory cards so that if one fails, the other is still there (and in my opinion, with the same quality of raw files as the first because jpg files just don’t edit the same!). But I just don’t know if that’s realistic– I do think every photographer needs to go to those events with a backup camera of great quality in case something happens to their camera body, but I photographed for my first couple years on a camera that only recorded to 1 card and I definitely think that is most people’s experience. Regardless of whether you are photographing on a camera with 2 slots of 1, my advice is the same though! I am going to go ahead and share what I do to protect my clients images (and to this day have never lost any!)– this is not the only way to do this, it is just what has worked really well for me!
1). Personally, I want a copy of my images onto a harddrive or computer ASAP. Because I know technology can fail, or heaven forbid a camera or card gets lost or stolen, my top priority is to get a second copy right away– and for me, that is before I leave the wedding. We try to make a surprise day of slideshow with some sneak peeks for our couples as often as possible if the schedule permits, and this allows us to get a copy of every single image on an external harddrive before we even leave. Even if you can’t look at adding in a slideshow (it’s a lot of work but an amazing surprise for our couples!), I think it is worth it to bring your computer and start uploading in your car or in a slightly hidden away from guests spot, maybe while you are eating. Obviously– I wouldn’t recommend doing this instead of photographing when you need to, but typically there is some reception downtime while people are eating and you can at least get started!
2). For years, I desperately wanted a system where I could upload to the cloud (for us, we use Crash Plan for that) the night of the wedding so that the photos were already off site in case of fire/etc inside our home. However, our lovely Country Gum Home internet just does NOT allow for that– so we knew we needed a physical backup off site. After the external harddrive with a full backup of the photos gets to my house post wedding, one of the cards that has all the wedding photos on it goes into a separate ziplock bag and into my purse– and leaves with me every single time I leave the house. On Sunday, all of the images go on a separate external harddrive (now making 4 copies of each image- 2 cards, my harddrive I work from, and another), and that harddrive goes off site on Monday AM. The images stay on the harddrive and on one card until they are delivered to my clients, no exception. This concept of putting the images on an external harddrive and getting it off site can work for anyone…bring it to your day job, your parents house, your neighbors house, your spouses work…anyone can have their images backed up in this way!
I feel 100% confident with this approach that nothing horrible will ever happen to my clients images, causing their wedding memories to be lost. However– I know many people who that has happened for, and if you find yourself in this situation as a photographer, you have to first and foremost put yourself in your clients shoes and do everything you can to right the wrong. These are once in a lifetime opportunities for your clients– and we have to treat it as such!
Now, for couples (brides!) reading this: ask your potential photographers what they do to protect your files! Make sure they have a plan so that your images don’t get lost. Obviously, there sadly is no 100% guarantee. But they should have plans in place so that it is extremely unlikely, and their contract should have language about this for if the unthinkable did happen. Make sure you are comfortable with and fully understand their terms about this, and make sure it is all in writing! You may want to check with their process for after delivery too in case something happens to YOUR computer once you have the files. I keep my clients galleries online indefinitely (though I promise 1 year), and still have harddrives full of the images from every session I have ever taken. That doesn’t have to be your photographer’s plan– but make sure you are comfortable with whatever their terms are– and make sure you back up your photos on your computer as well!
PHEW! This is a long and heavy post about something that is so deeply important for your business, photographers! Do you have a different system than mine? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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