There are so many articles on the internet about finding your wedding photographer, but in my opinion this is the most important question to ask your photographer. Whenever I have a client meeting I always ask the couple if they have any questions they would like to ask me. They generally have a list which is great to work from, but time and time again there is one question missing which I think is the most important.

Most important question to ask your photographer: Do you backup our photos?

This question is so important and it’s a subject often neglected, not only by clients but photographers alike. 

Now, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind but being in so many photography groups, I quite often see photographers using just one drive for their photography thinking this is “backup,” when in reality it’s like putting your photos on a fire and hoping they don’t burn. Dramatic I know, yet I’m sure we’ve all had tech fail on us. I’ve personally seen my wife in a mess twice in the past few years. Tsk!

A collection of hardrives to backup photos

After 3 years, failure rates skyrocket to 11.8% per year.

Source : Backblaze

The crazy thing about this statistic is that it isn’t even brand specific. Seagate were victims of extremely high failure rates in their 4tb drives (commonly used by photographers) and yet people were still using them as their only method of storage.

I have a very strict backup process.

What do I do? It starts before the wedding itself. I am fully insured, and this is part of the backup process because in the event of an accident at a critical point (coming home from the wedding) it’s covered for both me and the client. This is the absolute worst case scenario but don’t worry it gets better from here!

I shoot to two cameras on the wedding day, and each of these cameras shoot to two memory cards. This means your data is duplicated and also distributed in 2 cameras. Many years ago I would shoot to mulitple smaller memory cards. This way if one memory card failed, you only lost a tiny portion and you could set out to work on recovery of that card without affecting/delaying things. Now shooting to two memory cards means I always have a copy of that data. That’s just on the day. Here’s the after bit I mentioned:

Backup Timeline

  1. When home from the wedding I import the photos immediately, creating the first copy on an external drive. At this point your photos are in your locations (temporary memory card x2, temporary computer hard drive, external drive). 
  2. Once all photos are imported, I then plug the external drive into what’s called a raid system or server setup for another term. This copies the photos directly and this is split between five drives. A raid in the configuration I use, can take two drive failures (raid 6) and it will still be able to recover all of the data. 
  3. My raid/server then duplicates itself to another offsite raid.
  4. Once the wedding is finalised, the JPEG’s are stored in your online gallery for you to download, but this also acts as a backup solution for yourselves. This is active at any time you wish to access it. Due to limited online storage your wedding will remain accessible for approximately two years. 
  5. Finally I only delete the photos off the memory card and laptop, once your wedding is delivered to you. But, my external drives and raid stay there, well forever?! Don’t be afraid to get in touch if you lose your USB as I can always re upload your wedding onto the online gallery. 

Final storage locations: External drive, Raid , Offsite Raid and JPEG stored on the cloud.
Total storage locations: Four

What important things can you do as a client to create your own backup?

I think it’s also extremely important as a client that you also take pride in backing up your photographs yourself.

When I deliver weddings you will receive a USB with your photos and an online gallery. While there are two copies here for you to access. In the event of my galleries going down, I have a personal backup, but you won’t be able to access them. This means you will only have your USB. I highly recommend looking at Google drive or at least a secondary copy of your photos somewhere safe. Be it other USBs, uploaded to your cloud, or even sharing the photos with family / friends for them to save a copy. Wedding photography is an investment and one of the very few things you’ll have after your wedding day, so it’s in all of our interests to protect them! Get in touch here if you’d like me to photograph your wedding and if not me, make sure the most important question to ask your photographer is brought up!

Wedding Album

Cloud Storage

USB drive