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Destination Weddings Part Two: Backup and Storage on the Road

July 6th, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Shoot

We have important jobs.  No, we’re not saving the world, but we are creating images that will be treasured forever from a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Hopefully you all have a wonderful backup solution for your files at home.  But with all of the natural disasters in the news, do you have an off-site backup?  And what if you are traveling?  How will you backup your files while you are on the road, especially if shipping the images somewhere is impossible or undesirable?  May is the end of my destination wedding season and I’m on the road again this month (on vacation this time– hiking in the Alps!), so this issue is buzzing around my brain more than usual. It would be devastating to lose the thousand or so (yes, you read that number correctly) family photographs that I have taken (so far!) from theft, computer damage, camera damage, etc, and I don’t want to lose any changes that I have made to my clients’ images, either (although those are safely archived at home).

Here is my strategy for dealing with backups and storage while photographing destination weddings (or while I’m on vacation!):

1. In Camera Backups.  Part of the reason that I shoot with the D3s (other than the fact that it is an awesome camera!) is that it offers dual card slots.  I shoot with a 32gb card in one slot capturing RAW images and an 8gb card in the second slot capturing medium jpeg backups of the same files.  This protects me from card error and it also protects me in the extremely unlikely event that my camera should start writing error-laden RAW files.  I will automatically have two copies of the wedding, and I separate out the two cards (keeping one on my person at all times until I complete all of my backups) immediately after the wedding.

2. After Wedding Download and Backup.  Immediately after my wedding, whether I am driving home or relaxing in a hotel room, I start backing up my files.  I back up my RAW files to my HyperDrive ColorSpace for iPad (http://www.hypershop.com/HyperDrive-s/119.htm) – the ColorSpace (as opposed to the hard drive by itself) lets me plug in my card and backup/verify my files with one touch.  I can play them back, view them on my iPad, or transfer them to my computer.  At this point I have three copies of the wedding.

3. Transfer to the Computer.  After the images are safely on my HyperDrive, I connect the HyperDrive to my computer and copy the images to my computer.  Once they are copied, I import them to Lightroom and I make a one to one preview of each file to save myself time later and to verify the files.  At this point I have four copies of the wedding.

4. Transfer to an External Hard Drive.  I always carry a portable external hard drive with me- it has copies of the files that I want to work on and it serves as a backup for new images as well.  I now have five copies of the wedding.

5. Off-site or Online?  This is where I have a few different options.  I don’t like traveling with all of my images, even if they are separated out into different bags.  If I can, I may choose to send a copy of the images home via UPS or DSL.  If I am in a location that I work in frequently or if I have friends nearby, then I may choose to leave a copy of the files somewhere (with friends, with a hotel concierge, or with a trusted coordinator) before traveling.  If I have access to an internet connection (and a good one at that), then I also have the option of uploading my files.  Even if my connection is blazingly fast, I probably still won’t have time to upload RAW files.  However, the medium JPEG files from the second slot of my camera can be uploaded much quicker.

What are some of the off-site options?

Shopping Carts with Print Fulfillment.  If you have SmugMug, Zenfolio, PhotoShelter, Pictage (or something like it), then you already have a secure way to upload your files.  You can upload Jpegs to all three, and RAW images to SmugMug (with a Pro account).  You can always make the gallery private and then delete it when you get home and have edited images.  The first two are fairly inexpensive for unlimited storage, and I know some photographers that have accounts just for backup options.

Dropbox.  If I have something small that needs to be backed up, occasionally I will throw it into my Dropbox account.

All-inclusive Backup Solutions.  These include Backblaze, Chronosync, Mozy, SugarSync and more.  There are quite a few out there, and each has its pros and cons.  I use SuperDuper to copy my laptop’s hard drive (and make it bootable!), so most of these were either to expensive or too all-inclusive (and not easily customized) for my tastes, but they are worth a look if you don’t have your computer backed up elsewhere.

Amazon S3 and Third Party Software.  This is the solution that I use.  You will need some software to interface with Amazon S3- I use Arq, but you can also use JungleDisk and a few others.  Prices are per GB, but are fairly low (around 14 cents per GB).  I use it for my blog backups (automated) and on the road as-needed, so I’m not breaking the bank.  Arq is extremely easy to use- you just choose the folders that you want to back up and then you let Arq do its thing.

There is no one solution for backing up your images while you are on the road, but the imporant things is that you find a system that works for you!

 

Post by Maine Wedding Photographer Michelle Turner.

About Michelle Turner

Michelle Turner has written 19 post in this blog.

Michelle is a professional wedding photographer who splits time between Maine and Puerto Vallarta.

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