One thing that digital photography has done is really change my workflow for shooting weddings. Before all I had to do is make sure that I didn’t loose my rolls of film until monday when I dropped them off at the lab. Now there are a few weeks that go by while the files are being worked on that I have to make sure they are always safely backed up.

Here is my normal workflow for backing up photos from the shoot until everything is delivered safely to my clients.

1) First while shooting my card always remain on my body. I have a nice little Lowepro case that snaps onto my belt and all cards always stay with me during the day. Once the shoot is done I download the cards to my laptop right away.

2) Portable hard drive backup. After I have the images all on my computer i’ll load them into an editing program and double check that everything is there and nothing looks corrupted. Then i’ll backup these images to a portable hard drive. The portable drive goes into a fire proof safe along with the cards that were shot. I have a habit of not formatting a card until the editing is done and delivered to my clients. Just in case some crucial images are corrupt (which has happened to me before with a variety of CF cards), I like to make sure that I have the cards still to try and recover any data if I need to.

3) I do a quick edit on my laptop to weed out the images that aren’t keepers. The rest are transferred over to a work drive on my MacPro tower. At this point I have 3 copies of my images with one in a safe. I’ll start to edit the images in Lightroom from this work drive and I cycle this drive out once or twice a year to help keep the risk of failure down.

4) At the end when the processing in Lightroom is done I store all of the images (RAW images plus the .xmp files) on two different drives. One of these drives is a NAS RAID system with 4 drives. It’s setup so if 1 drive goes down all the data is safe and I can put a new drive into the system to make sure I have redundancy. I also save all of these files to a portable drive that gets stored away in a safe as well as an online solution.

drobo storage5) The NAS drive has enough storage (and can be expanded) to store years of shoots. Even with shooting a few hundred thousand images a year there is plenty of space in a 4TB+ enclosure. I keep shoots filed very simply, there is a folder by year, then a folder by type of shoot (portrait, wedding, corporate) and within those folders is a folder with the shoot name and date. This makes it always easy to find shoots years later. For the drives that are stored in a safe I have a separate drive for each year and label them at the end of the year.

Now that everything is processed, safe and my clients are happy i’ll delete the images from my laptop, the work drive on my MacPro and format the cards so I can shoot another wedding.

A few things to keep in mind. Having a redundant drives like a RAID system alone is not a fail proof system. Some people feel safety in that and only store there images in a RAID system. Just like 1 drive can go bad you can always have multiple drives go back around the same time and your RAID system is totally lost. The best thing to keep in mind is to have redundancy but also multiple backups and keeping these backups in other locations. We can never have too much precaution and backups for our artwork. Remember we can’t go back and shoot the wedding again so make sure to protect those images.

What do you have as a backup solution? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you are looking for a great way to have a redundant copy of your images check back later for a great giveaway announcement!

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