My boys have returned to school for the year, I’m just back from holidays and downloading some images from the break and feel compelled to add a new post. You see, during the holidays, we had some great family times as no doubt you did and we captured a few of those moments with the camera. We also had a visit from Linda’s Aunty Marina from Scotland – this was her first and very likely to be her only trip to Australia. Of course I grabbed a few photos to relive some of the times we all spent together.
How would I feel if these images from a once in a lifetime visit and great holiday memories were lost – devastated! In these modern times it’s not uncommon for families to store years worth of images on a single computer hard drive.
Is this something you do? If so, the very real and scary truth is, you may lose the lot.
I have had two mums come to me for help in the past twelve months, one that had lost an entire years worth of images, the other two years of their children growing up. Photographically speaking – their kids don’t exist for this period and that’s very sad. There is software available that can retrieve lost or damaged files from a dead hard drive but it can be an expensive and very time consuming exercise – I am speaking from experience here.
I learnt a lesson very early on in my career as a photographer when a staff member accidently erased 2 x 250GB hard drives that were full of photos. I’ve also had hard drives just fail with no warning. It does happen. These issues were an inconvenience sure, but they could have been catastrophic if we didn’t have a good back up system in place.
The first thing I do after downloading all the files is to do an edit, rename the files and put them into a folder that will make it easy to locate in the future. The very next step is the most important though – I back up all the files to a separate computer then to an external hard drive. At the end of the week they’ll be transferred to another external drive and taken off site.
Sure this may be overkill for most of you but you MUST, MUST, MUST back up your important images.
Personally, I think it’s a real shame that so many people don’t even print their images anymore and those that do, go for 15c reprints that look terrible. Spend a little more to have your favourite photos printed by a lab that knows what they are doing and you have beautiful memories for a lifetime – just like our parents do. Sure you can display them on DVD’s, phones, digital photo frames but give me the option of leafing through an album or looking at a framed wall print and I’ll take the latter every time.
Below is a simple set of guidelines that any family photographer can use to manage their digital files that will make it easy to locate, print and share your photos easily. Don’t be put off if you have five years worth of images, just start with the images you capture from now on. Better to start somewhere than put it off any longer.
- Capture, shoot , photograph till your hearts content
- Download your photos onto your computer
- Edit your photos. For this process you are selecting the images you don’t want (the duds) and deleting them. Be careful here as an image doesn’t need to be technically great to bring back a great memory. No need to be too harsh at this stage. Note: If the images aren’t being displayed in the order they were taken, set your editing program to display in the photos in order of “capture time”.
- Renumber all the keepers. I go for three or four letters that have some relevance followed by an underscore and start with 001. This way the images will be displayed in the order they were captured, even if you have up to 1000. Eg; Mar_001, Mar_002 …… Mar_999
- Once renumbered you will need to move them into a folder that you can easily locate in the future. A great method is to label your folders with a date first followed by a name – again, this means they will be in a date order on your computer. There is a trick to this labelling system though and that is the date must be in reverse. For example, my holiday image folder will be labelled: 2010_01_29 Holidays
- The very next thing to do is to back up this folder. It needs to be to a different computer or hard drive, to a cd or dvd – you must have at least one other copy somewhere
- Once the back up is done I’ll add sub-folders inside the main folder with the “original files” and other sub-folders for “favourites to print,” “photos for blog,” photos to email” etc
That’s it! Follow this process a couple of times and it becomes automatic. It’s simple fast and will save you heartache at some point. If you are looking for some simple, easy to use and inexpensive software for your editing give Photo Mechanic a try. It’s for both Mac and Windows and will be a big time saver for editing large numbers of photos. You can find the software at www.camerabits.com
I was once told a long time ago when digital photography was first taking off that “if you don’t have two copies of your file – it doesn’t exist” – this still hold true to this day. Back up or lose it!