Deidre Sorensen is a London UK based photographer. She specialises in maternity, newborn, and baby photography in her Kensington & Chelsea portrait studio.

Baby Photography Tip #2: Storing your photos

June 5, 2014

As promised, my second topic, based on questions from clients, is around storing photos.  That might not seem like a photography tip, per se, but it’s an important thing to think about.

So many of my clients have fabulous cameras at home and are either using those to get daily snaps of their children or using their phones.  Images are piling up — great little day-to-day moments — and they’ve not had a second to think through what they’re going to do with them.  Since I got asked the other day about storage, I thought I’d share what I do and what I’ve learned.  Three themes:

1.  First things first:  process your photos as close to the day you took them as possible.  Why? A few things:

• You forget the details of the moment and what you were trying to capture.  Sometimes it’s obvious, but sometimes it’s not … and a filename which is just an arbitrary number is not going to help you!  I try to download things to my computer instantly and process within days, and even when it comes to travel, within weeks.  If months go by (and yes, it happens to us all), it can be hard to go back through and remember it all.

• You forget what you were trying to do with your camera in the moment — nowadays with digital, at least the basic information is stored within the file itself, but the elements of the day and why you chose those settings will be lost.  They don’t matter terribly in the sense that you already took the picture as you saw fit.  But in terms of learning from the moment, it’ll be hard if you look at the file months later and can’t recall what settings you were playing with.  Looking at things quickly can give you that immediate feedback and help improve your photography.

• Finally, you’re just more likely to take the time to find the nice images when they’re recent.  Once the archive has grown to an unbearable size, it’s hard to take the time to look through it all and some gems might just be lost.

2.  Second, keep your files structured so it’s easy to find things later. This sounds more onerous than it is.  Basically, if you have more than 100 images in a folder, with any subfolders, you’re going to struggle finding things.  The more you can create a file structure and ensure you file your images carefully, the easier they’ll be to locate later.  It’s definitely also worth adding titles and keywords, if your photo editing software allows.  Most do – and you’re then able to search for the images on your computer too, which is extremely handy!  The extra few minutes you spend organising your files upon download save heaps of time and energy later.

3.  Finally, it’s important to store the files somewhere safe … and have a backup somewhere else.  We all have thousands of images on our computers — what if our hard drives just failed one day?  Since many of us no longer make photo albums or prints, the only record of our memories are in files on our computers.  It’s so ridiculously important to back them up:

• At minimum, you should have a backup of your computer nearby, just in case your computer fails — that includes all information, not just your photos.  You can use an external drive connected by USB, or even simpler, some CD/DVDs.  With something like Time Capsule for Mac, you can automate the backup and know that it’s always there and ready to go if you need it.

• You should also think about having copies of really important things, like your photos, backed up somewhere other than your home, just in case of disaster.  That can be as simple as keeping DVDs at your office or a family member’s house.  Easy to do, and a lifesaver in case something goes wrong.  If you’re more tech-inclined, you can also use cloud storage, such as iCloud, DropBox or Amazon Cloud Services … there are zillions of providers who offer services tailored to consumers, small businesses and large enterprises.  Easy to set up and use, and more automated than burning DVDs.  Cloud storage is so easy to access these days that it couldn’t be simpler to find storage away from home. Plus it makes your files accessible on the go!

My needs likely differ from what the average parent needs, but here’s what I do:  I use an external drive, connected by USB or Firewire, so that if my computer one day just fails, I have an extra hard drive with the backup on it.  But since that might not be enough, I actually have 2 drives that mirror each other (a mirrored RAID), just in case one of my backup drives fails.  And then to be even more sure, I also back up to storage on a ‘cloud’ — a little space for me out there in the ether, where my files can be accessed in the event something catastrophic happens to my home and studio.

I’ve used a variety of providers for cloud services, including the soon-to-be-discontinued iDisk from Mac … so I’m now trialling out some news ones.  I’ll share what I find out another day.

So, I do all this not only for my professional photos but also just for my personal ones.  But I’m curious — how do others keep their photo files safe?  Anyone else use backups and clouds?  Any experiences to share?

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