Never Ever Lose An Image

Between the two of us, we have watched enough of the show Family Feud to last for what seems like a lifetime. We are pretty sure there are like over a billion episodes of the show since we’ve never seen the same one twice. So today we are going to play our own version of Family Feud. Cue the theme song!!!

Ok in this version there is only one question. Get it right and you win. Here’s the question.

“100 photographers were surveyed. We asked them, ‘As a photographer, what is your worst nightmare?'”


“Forgetting about someone’s wedding day.” *clap clap clap* *good answer!*

“Survey says!…” *ding!* “Number 3 answer!”

The next person in line says “Crazy bridezillas!” *clap clap clap* *good answer!*

“Survey says!…” *ding!* “Number 2 answer!”

And then the moment of truth! The third person says “Losing a couple’s wedding images!” *clap clap clap* *good answer!*

“Survey says!…” *ding!* “Number 1 answer!” Cue the music!

Alright so, to make a long episode short, they go on to win the $20,000 dollars and everyone is happy! And we just realized how legitimately hard it would be to type out an entire episode of Family Feud! But we did all of that to prove a point in a fun way. We really think that if that were a real survey, those might be some of the real answers. Photographers, just like any other business owners, deal with scary situations and nightmares that occasionally keep them awake at night. We get it!

So today, we want to help take one of those fears “off the board” if you will. And what better nightmare to tackle than what we believe might just be the #1 fear, losing important images! Can you imagine shooting a wedding and getting home to realize you lost a 32gb card full of wedding images or that one of your cards is corrupt and you just lost half of someone’s engagement session?! Ahhhh!!! We got the chills just typing that out!

At the beginning of this year, we got tired of those fears creeping into our minds, so we decided to do something about it. We put a system in place to make sure that we never lose a single image. Now, before we go on, we have to say this. We are human. There are ways that the system could break down. But all of those ways have to do with us breaking outside the boundaries that we have put in place within this system. If we lose an image, it’s because we didn’t do what we are about to tell you to do. This system works!

So here are the 3 ways that we keep our client images safe. And these 3 ways line up with specific times in the shooting and editing process. We will explain as we go. Ready to squash those fears? Here we go!


As You Are At The Session Or Wedding | Avoid Changing Cards

It’s a proven fact. Card manufacturers will tell you that a large majority of CF (compact flash) card failures happen when the card is taken out of the camera. Maybe you are changing cards. Maybe you are downloading images from a session. It doesn’t really matter. The fact is that when you take the card out of your camera, you are in the danger zone!

Our solution? Don’t change cards.

We shoot on cards that we never have a need to change. Alyssa shoots on a 128gb CF card. Ryan shoots on a 64gb CF card. We could never fill those up on a wedding day. We have tried! We even had a 16-hour day as part of Ameesh & Payal’s Indian wedding and never came close to maxing out the space on these cards! We had gotten so used to shooting on 32gb cards that 128gb sounded like a crazy big card to us! But we knew that if we never wanted to change cards on a wedding day, a 128gb card and a 64gb card were the answers!

Now we know what you might be thinking. “But then you have someone’s whole wedding on 2 cards! What if one of them fails! You lose half of their wedding!” Great point. Our camera bodies are 5D Mark iii’s that have dual card slots. They have a slot for a CF card and a slot for an SD card. We are able to write RAW images to both cards! So in the worst case scenario where one of our CF cards fails, we always have the SD card as a backup!

Essentially we get the best of both worlds here, guys. We avoid ever having our CF cards out of our cameras where most failures happen and yet we are able to shoot throughout the whole wedding day while writing to two cards simultaneously in case of failure!

And if that’s not enough, here’s a bonus. We never have a situation where we filled one CF card, changed it out, and lose that card because it’s not in our camera. We never deal with that. We have one card each. And they stay in our cameras. All day.

Oh, and if somehow you’re still not convinced, there’s this. A long time ago we shot a wedding. Everything was perfect. The bride was walking down the aisle. Alyssa was snapping away. And then her card was full. Uh oh!!! Quick change! Granted, Alyssa should have checked her card space before the ceremony! But since we made the switch to one card each, we never even have to think about changing cards. One less thing to remember on a hectic wedding day!


As Soon As Possible | Back Up The Images

Your session or wedding is over. You are packing up the car and headed home. You can’t think about anything but a nice hot shower and a soft bed. We feel ya! But you need to be thinking abut one thing first: backing up those images!

Maybe you use a laptop to edit. Bring that to your sessions and weddings and back up your images before you leave the parking lot! Maybe you edit on a desktop at home like we do. Then go straight home and back up those images! Do not pass go! Do not collect $200!

Here’s our immediate backup process.

If you shoot dual cards like we do, you can either pull out the SD card with RAW images or you can pull out the CF card. Remember that most failures happen when the card is removed. So either way, be careful! We plug our 2 cards into our Lexar Workflow Hub (which is awesome by the way because it can read up to 4 cards at once!). We create a new folder on our computer for this job and we copy all images to that new folder.

Once they are done copying, we now have all of our images in 2 places: on the cards and on the computer. But we are not done yet! Next, we copy that folder of RAW images to our Drobo 5N. This sounds a little bit technical but stay with us and we will try to keep it simple. Our Drobo has in it 5 separate 2tb (that’s 2000 gb) drives. When we copy something to the Drobo, it essentially makes multiple copies of that item so that if one drive fails, the data is still safe. We have complete peace of mind!

And you probably think that’s enough! Well, it probably is. But just to be safe, we take one more precaution. We know that our images are safe on the Drobo. However, what about the 1 in 100,000 chance that our house burns down or someone breaks in and steals our computer and Drobo? Then those images are gone! So our last step is to copy that folder of RAW images to one last drive. For us, it’s a 500gb G Drive. We only store RAW images on this drive and we only keep them on there until the final images have been delivered. And to prevent against fire, we put this little guy into a fireproof safe. Now we know our images are safe no matter what!

So, to recap. We copy our cards into one folder. We copy that folder to two places. First, we copy it to our Drobo which prevents against drive failure. Second, we copy it to our “fireproof drive” which we put in a fireproof safe. You want to talk about peace of mind! We do all of that immediately after we return from any session or wedding. Now let’s talk longterm.


As You Deliver The Final Images | Use Online Storage

At this point, you are editing away on your images. You have incredible peace of mind knowing that your RAW images are safe and sound! You have completed your editing and now it’s time to deliver the final images to your client. Here’s where we take our final step to ensure our client’s memories are safeguarded forever.

We use a wonderful client image delivery site called Pixieset. We love Pixieset! Pixieset is how we actually deliver the digital files to our clients. But maybe you deliver you images on a CD (time to update) or a flash drive. That’s ok! The bottom line is this: you need to have your final images backed up online. A lot of people even use a cloud storage solution. Great! For us, we are delivering the final Jpeg images to our couples through Pixieset, so we just leave them on Pixieset indefinitely!

There are several advantages to having our final images backed up online. Again, in the 1 in 100,000 chance that our house burns down or someone steals all of our stuff, at the very least we can still access the final edited images for all of our weddings and sessions! The other advantage is that we are taking those images with us everywhere. All we have to do is access Pixieset through an internet connection. More than once we have been on the road and writing a bog post for the next day and realized we didn’t bring the images we needed for the post! So we were able to download images straight from Pixieset and save the day!

But the most important thing to remember is to use some form of online backup for your final images. You never know what could happen! Love your couples enough to keep your clients’ memories safe through an online backup.

P.S. We are also backing up the final images on the Drobo as well as the online backup.

Guys, don’t take chances with these images. They are too valuable! Take the steps necessary and even steps that are possibly even unnecessary to safeguard the memories you have worked so hard to capture. You will sleep better and you will never regret it!

If this post was helpful to you, check out our whole section of teaching posts for photographers here!

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