As photographers, these days, one of our major concerns is to define the final outcome of the work we produce. Either via printing files, sharing them through social media platforms or build a digital portfolio, these outcome mediums share one aspect: the success of this outcome depends, entirely, on how we manage the storage of our digital files that come straight from the camera.
By saying that I’m not referring to the eternal discussion on how much post-production work should we do to an image but how to store the pictures after they are ready to be released as, like we all know, accidents are prone to happen or clients can ask for copies of the original files.
How can we efficiently keep copies of the work we have done? Is there a method to follow? Let’s get to know this process in detail!
Not so long ago the film was the only medium to work as a photographer. That being said, getting printed photos out of film cameras was a process that required many stages ranging from the way we stored the negatives to the chemistry procedure involved in processing them. Obviously, this implied a broad knowledge on the subject: it was the exact opposite to photography these days as only people trained on these procedures was able to deliver the final files, rather than what we see today as photographs through the internet.
So, if for these vintage photographers keeping the negatives was imperative in order to recreate the images again – as paper could get the colours altered over time – their storage method was carefully planned so light could not fade those negatives, planning the way we keep digital files on our computers equals the importance of that process… perhaps even more if we consider the threats we face nowadays with malware, hackers, etc.
In the era of digital photography, talking about photo storage implies memory cards, computers, and mostly hard drives. There’s no one else to blame than yourself in case something happens and you don’t have an extra copy of your work as it’s entirely cost-free to do it. “Accidents” that can put our work in jeopardy can be classified in:
So, what’s the potential solution for keeping our files safe? There are multiple options:
Obviously, all these methods have their pros and cons. Creating a spare partition can protect us from the scenario in which you need to reinstall your OS, but won’t keep your files safe if the hard drive itself starts to malfunction or if a virus goes to the root directory of the drive. Add an extra hard drive may certainly work unless your PC gets stolen (unfortunately that’s a risk to face when working with Laptops). External drives are the best option to go as they are relatively cheap these days unless you want to buy a bulk solution (over 4 TB of storage) or fancy options like NAS drives.
On this regard, NAS drives to experience the same issues as uploading the files to the Cloud: you ought to have an internet connection to access your files. So consider the speed of your network connection and the overall accessibility to it prior picking this method as your way to go.
What’s the point of owning an extra drive to store your files if it looks like a freaking mess? Not only it’s a stressing factor but also you’re likely to misplace your files and later on take them as deleted/missing.
Decluttering is a practice that not only comforts the soul but also it’s absolutely effective. I tend to do a digital decluttering every once in a while as one tends to keep unnecessary files after some time. For this, the organization is the key to success! Take, as an example, this file structure for sorting your photography work files:
Your drive: Let’s name it Data (D:)
Inside that Data (D:) drive there should be these folders:
It’s up to you if you want to store books or video tutorials as well in this drive, as it’s also up to you if you want to encrypt this drive with a password or make a non-visible partition – for both approaches, I’d recommend you to use the software as Veracrypt.
When it comes to picking a hard drive there are many things you need to consider:
How many copies should I keep off my work? Well, that’s up to you as well. In my case, I rely on one copy of my hard drive besides the one I have on my laptop (which are the “workable” files) – this copy is updated on weekly basis.
In case you still don’t feel secure enough you can add the important documents and finished sessions to a Dropbox drive, as you get 1 GB for free. Please notice that I prefer Dropbox rather than Google Drive or MEGA as it’s much easier to share links for clients to download the files if required, and also it’s safer. Google Drive also shares that drive space with my mailbox attachments, which isn’t convenient, and MEGA has the MAJOR downside that you cannot recover the account if you lose the password.
Well, I hope this guide can help you to build more effective copies of your work. See you next time!