A wise professor of mine at Penn State once warned me that "it's not a question of IF you're going to lose your files, but WHEN." I always took this advice seriously because it had already happened to me and sadly, I expect it to happen eventually happen again. This week, I wanted to share some advice on how to lower your risk of losing your images and protect yourself in case you do:
1. Take care of your memory cards. As simple as this sounds, it's an easy one to forget! These little chips are the keeper of our product, so keeping them safe is one of the most important things to handle with care other than our camera/lenses.
2. Back up your files as soon as you can. I dump my photos onto my computer as soon as I get home from a shoot. It's been recommended to me to bring my computer and download my files before leaving the site (especially at weddings). I will admit, I need to be better about this because having all of your eggs in one basket is not a great idea when you're handling digital files. Machines fail all the time! The more copies you have of your work, the better.
3. Keep your originals. So, I have a genuine fear of formatting my memory cards. And this fear is totally not irrational because one time in college, I cleared my card thinking I had copied the files to my computer but somehow, they didn't transfer. Luckily this was just a photo assignment for class that I could reshoot and not a clients gallery, BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN! These days I wait to format my cards until my files are copied, copied again, uploaded online and delivered to my client. Even still I worry about losing my files and I don't think the fear will ever go away.
So what if something else goes wrong and you lose them? I have been lucky and this has not happened to me with a client, but the reality is that it could. At any time. All we can do as photographers is explain, apologize endlessly, offer a refund, a reshoot, and a lifetime discount. I would feel so heartbroken and guilty, but no matter how hard we try, we can't control a malfunction with machinery and accidents happen. I hope these tips help you keep your files safe and lower your fears about losing your work! Cheers to the last week of May, my friends!