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Should You Archive Your Images?

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One of the most rewarding parts of your job is telling the story of the wedding day through stunning images. Because you shoot thousands of photos at every wedding, having a system in place to back-up your images and store them is crucial to your success. Even if you only deliver 500-700 images after they are color corrected by a photo editing company, you should still archive the photos you shot so you can easily access them. So you can feel confident saving and storing your images, Wedding photographer, Melissa Jill, is sharing why she archives her photos and the process she uses to protect what she shoots. 

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The other day Dixie and I were taking our daily walk with our neighbor friend and her pup. We were talking about photos and she mentioned that she had no idea where the thumb drive of their professional wedding photos was. A wave of nausea hit me and I asked her if she had them backed up anywhere. She sheepishly admitted that she didn’t. Then I laid into her (with love), encouraging her to find them and get those babies backed up somewhere in the cloud ASAP! Yikes! SO scary.

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I know my friend is a bride and not a professional photographer, but this encounter reminded me of how important it is for us professional photographers to have our clients’ digital images archived. Today, I wanted to share how I archive my client’s wedding photos.

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When it comes to this very unglamorous part of my workflow, I have a few competing emotions. One is fear. Besides Dixie dying or my business failing, I have no worse fear than losing a client’s images. (Ok, maybe a few more would beat it out, but not many.) The other emotion is a sense of dread and overwhelming anxiety. There are so many options out there and so many competing opinions about how images should be archived that I feel immobilized. You see, this is just not an area of strength for me. I don’t get excited about hard drives and problem-solving a back-up solution. In fact, when I start thinking about these things, my head starts spinning and I feel slightly queasy. I’ve looked into the options and opinions, and I’ve tried a number of solutions over the years, but this is an area of my business in which I’m not passionate about spending a lot of time. Nevertheless I know it’s important and it needs to be done.

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Like with anything that I know is not my strength, I turned to an expert to help me come up with a good archiving solution. I paid a business consultant and an IT expert to recommend a solution and install it for me. Like I mentioned, there are a number of options out there, so what I will share with you today is just one way to get the job done. But, at least for the moment — until technology changes on us yet again — I feel fairly confident in it. Because I know there will be questions about how I prevent image loss before the archiving process, I’m going to also share how I protect my files from the moment they are shot. This is what I do:

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1. Keep CF Cards on My Person While Shooting

I use a GoBee Bag (unfortunately these are no longer sold) around my waist to carry my CF cards with me at all times during a wedding. That way, if any of my gear gets stolen, the mean and evil thief will not get away with stealing the client’s memories.

2. Off-Load Images Right Away

All of my images are off-loaded onto my computer the night of the wedding. I don’t reformat my CF cards until the images from each event are uploaded to my online lab (usually within a week).

3. Use a Server with Mirror Technology

We use a Network Attached Storage device by Synology with 5 removable 3TB hard drives as both our working drives and our archive drives. So when I off-load the CF cards the night of the wedding, the images go onto this server. The way it is set-up, if one of the hard drives fails, the info is still protected within the others. We keep our working files in one folder of the server and then, when all of the products are delivered and our workflow for that wedding is done, we transfer the client folder (complete with RAW files, high res .jpgs, contract and even album files) to an “Archive” file on the server. One of the other great things about this server is we can access it from any of our three computers in the office, and even remotely when I’m traveling. So that eliminates any file transfer headaches. It’s also nice to have all of our files archived in one spot that is accessible without having to track down a hard drive in a closet and plug it in. The server is definitely a financial investment, but SO worth it as it’s an option you can grow with and feel confident in.

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Ensuring you have proper processes in place can eliminate stress or confusion in your business, which allows you to focus on the parts you love to work on. Learn more about growing your business and incorporating streamlined processes with our How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business Guide!

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew

    do you not use the final step and have a offsite back up ? I do simlar to you but I am looking at crash plan for example. I did have the synology NAS offsite but it took to long to back even a medium job and the connection would drop out randomly.

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