how to protect your wedding photos

The Dog Ate My Wedding Photos!

I don’t want to make you paranoid, but have you ever thought about what happens if you lose your Wedding Photos sometime after the big day? Probably not.  But that’s ok because;

  1. You aren’t (probably) a professional photographer so you shouldn’t be expected to know, and
  2. That’s why I’m writing this post.

Why am I even writing this blog post?

Good question.  After all, it’s 0623am as I type this and all this typing is burning valuable coffee-drinking time!

I’m writing this blog post because most people are terrible when it comes to backing up their precious photos/data.  NEWS FLASH!!  Most photographers are almost as bad when it comes to making sure their client’s photos are as safe as they can be.  I am writing this blog post because I’m hoping it will achieve two goals;

  1. It will help you to become better at making sure your wedding photos (and other important data) is as safe as it can be
  2. It will enable you to ask the right questions of your wedding photographer to ensure that they are making their copies of your wedding photos as safe as they can be.

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started…

Why do you need a backup of your Wedding Photos?

Memory cards can fail.  Computers and hard drives can die.  Prints and albums can get lost or damaged.

You probably love your wedding photos. Even if you didn’t, you probably paid a professional photographer a far-from-insubstantial amount of money to get them in the first place!  So they are valuable to you.  And it’s not like you’ll be able to “just go back and do it again” if you lose your wedding photos!  So let’s look at how to protect those valuable and much loved wedding photos of yours.

What constitutes a good “photo backup”?

Ok, so the heart of this blog post is about making sure your wedding photos are backed up safely.  But what exactly constitutes a “safe backup”?  First of all, let’s get real: there’s no way to make your photos (or anything else in life) 100% safe.  But you can make your wedding photos so safe that the chances of anything happening to them are pretty much the same as the chances of being struck by lightning.  Underground.

So what constitutes a safe backup?  A simple rule of thumb I use with data backups is the 3-2-1 rule.  The 3-2-1 rule states that if you have;

(a) .  3 identical copies of all your data stored on

(b) .  2 different mediums (eg one medium might be a hard drive, another might be the cloud or a solid state drive) with

(c) .  1 copy stored in an offsite location

Then your data is about as safe as it can be.

A real-life example – my backup system

As a real-life example, here’s how I back up all my wedding photos.

Backup #1

My main image library is on a multi drive hard drive enclosure called a Drobo 5d.  As well as having a huge storage capacity (currently 10 Terabytes but I can easily expand this) it also offers drive redundancy.  This means that if one of the 5 hard drives inside the Drobo dies, the Drobo’s software warns me and all I have to do is pull the faulty drive out and replace it with a new drive and the Drobo automatically replaces all the data from the old faulty drive on the new drive.

The ultimate image library storage solution - the Drobo 5d fallon photography

Backup #2

My first backup of my image library is on another big hard drive enclosure called a Thunderbay.  Like the Drobo, the Thunderbay contains multiple large hard drives and has a huge storage capacity.  I use some Mac software called Time Machine to automatically backup all the images on the Drobo to the Thunderbay.  The beauty with using Time Machine is that it makes backups every hour and you can travel back in time through the backups to find the backup state that you are looking for.  As an example, if I was to accidentally delete a file from the Drobo today at 2pm, I could just scroll through the Time Machine backups on the Thunderbay until I found the latest backup that contained the missing file/s.  Then I could restore them to the Drobo once again.  (But this is a bad example because I never delete files).

Backup #3 (offsite)

The second backup of all my data is in the cloud using a cloud backup service called Sync.com.  Sync.com automatically backs up all the images in my Drobo to the cloud.  The added benefit is that I can share any files in my Sync.com account with others so it’s a really fast way to deliver files to my clients.  As soon as the files are on the Drobo they start uploading and syncing.  So, as soon as I finish editing a client’s files they are already uploading/syncing to Sync.com and they will be ready for delivery really quickly.  It also means that any Sync.com links I use to deliver images to my clients last indefinitely.  So as long as they link is unbroken, you can always view/share/download your wedding photos using the link I sent to you when I first delivered your images.

Is this backup setup safe?

This setup follows the 3-2-1 rule.  I have 3 copies of all my photos on 2 different mediums (hard drives and in the cloud) with 1 copy stored offsite (the Sync.com cloud backup).  So my client’s wedding photos are as safe as I can practically make them.

 

How can you safely backup your own wedding photos without losing dollars or sleep?

Human nature being what it is, most people won’t set up a good backup system even if they know it’s important if it’s

  1. Expensive
  2. A huge pain in the arse to setup/use regularly/all of the above.

So we’re going to keep it simple and easy.  To keep your wedding photos safe, I recommend you keep one copy on your desktop computer (if you have one, if not a laptop will do) and a second identical copy in the cloud.  For cloud backups there are several free services like Google Drive, Google Photos or Dropbox that will get the job done providing you have enough space.  Make sure that when you are downloading and backing up your wedding photos you get the high res versions as well as the low res versions.  (If this is all gibberish to you, get somebody who does understand it all to make sure you have downloaded and backed up all your wedding photos correctly).

The other thing you can do to make sure your wedding photos are safe is to make sure your wedding photographer is backing them up correctly and you can get copies if necessary.

How can you make sure your wedding photographer is backing up your wedding photos correctly?

Before we get started, I would like to point out that most couples never ask about photo backups.  Which is not to say you shouldn’t be asking your photographer about it.  But I would suggest you ask nicely.  Sometimes us photographers get an email from a couple with a list of 20 questions that have obviously been copied straight from Google (and half of which aren’t relevant).  This kind of interrogation email usually leaves the photographer thinking a few things;

  • This couple has copied this from Google and half of the questions aren’t relevant.  They clearly have no idea what they’re doing.
  • This couple doesn’t trust me AT ALL.
  • This couple has probably sent these questions out in an email blast to 20 local photographers.  They may have no idea about the work on my website, my style of wedding photography etc.

Now, you might think “Suck it up, you’re a professional.  It’s only business”.  But every interaction you have with a potential wedding photographer strengthens/weakens your relationship with that photographer.  And the better your relationship with your wedding photographer the more relaxed, natural and fun your wedding day and wedding photos will be.  So please ask nicely.  And maybe don’t ask all these questions until you’re 99% sure you’re going to book the wedding photographer in question.

Right, now that I’ve got that off my chest, back to the topic at hand..

What questions should you ask your wedding photographer re backups?

I recommend you ask the following questions about photo backups to your photographer.

  • Will you be archiving my wedding photos indefinitely?  Or do you only keep them for a certain period of time?
  • Do you keep the original RAW files too or just the edited JPEGs?
  • If you will keep copies of my wedding photos on file, will I always be able to get further copies from you.  If so, is there any fee for this?
  • Do you keep multiple backups of my images with at least one backup stored offsite?

Long story short.

If you book a wedding photographer with a good backup system in place and you make sure you keep 2 copies of all your wedding photos with one copy offsite, your wedding photos are about as safe as you can  make them.  Job done.

Please don’t take chances with your wedding photos (or any other important photos or data for that matter).  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to run safe backups.  Just follow the 3-2-1 rule and you’ll be golden.

Hopefully you found this blog post helpful…and now it really is time to warm up that coffee machine…

If you found this blog post helpful, you might also want to check out;

7 Easy Steps To Find Your Dream Queenstown Wedding Photographer

Everything You Need To Know About Queenstown Wedding Photography