How to Keep Your Photos Safe While You’re Out Shooting

As a photographer, nothing is worse than losing your photos hard, be it a hard drive failure, theft or anything else. With a good backup strategyIt's easy to keep your photos safe at home, but what about when you're still shooting? What happens if you leave the grid and your laptop for a few days or even weeks? We will take a look.

When you're there, the biggest risks to your photos are theft, loss and loss of data. The solution to all three risks is essentially the same: make sure you never have a copy of your images on a single SD card or hard drive, or all your copies at one location. It's a bit more complicated than that, so keep reading.

Use the right cards

To minimize the risk of losing data from a faulty SD card-what can happenAlthough it's very rare, be sure to use high quality cards in good condition before embarking on a photo shoot. We recommend SanDisk and Lexar cards and really, there is no excuse for not using the best: a 32 GB SanDisk Ultra SD card costs less than $ 10. Just pay attention to the fake purchase.

RELATED: What SD card do I need for my camera?

If your SD cards sit in a drawer for a while, it's worth looking at. Check that they are not dented, scratched or damaged. You should too format them before each shoot.

RELATED: How to safely format SD cards for your camera

If you have two card slots, use them

The slots for two cards are a professional feature and, if your camera supports them, use them imperatively. Unless you shoot a lotShoot RAW on both cards. In this way, you automatically have a backup of every image you take. The probabilities of failure of a card are tiny; the chances of two cards failing at the same time before you have a chance to save your images elsewhere are essentially zero.

Even if you use double cards, it's a bad idea to let both of them sit in your camera. If someone steals your camera or it falls off a cliff …which can also happen– you do not want both cards to be compatible. When you do not shoot, take one out and put it on yourself, with another member of your group or in your bag.

RELATED: What is the problem of dual storage card slots for cameras?

Use multiple SD cards

The longer you use them, the more likely your SD cards will reproduce. Since SD cards are very cheap, it makes sense to use a lot of them. For trips of several days, I use two cards per day: a main card and a backup card. At the end of each day, I store them separately (usually one in my backpack and one in my hotel room or AirBnB) and put two fresh cards in my camera. In this way, if something happens, I will lose only one day of images rather than a complete trip. It does not matter whether the cards are full or not.

If you choose this route, it's a good idea to number your maps to find out which photos are on it. My camera supports CF and SD cards. I number CF cards in 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, etc., and SD cards in 1.2, 2.2, 3.2, and so on. Any numbering system that works for you will do it.

If you can, save while you photograph

An increasing number of portable hard drives, like the GNARBOX or Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro, have a built-in card reader. If you're traveling without your laptop, it's worth it to invest one. You then have a way to save your photos every night or even on the spot. This is especially important if you only shoot on one SD card.

Some devices, like the Nikon Z6 and Z7, record different card formats: make sure that the hard drive you buy supports this card format or has a USB port and a reader standard card.

With backups, one is nothing, and two are one so even after backing up your photos to a hard drive, it's a good idea to leave the photos on the storage cards until you know that your images are stored safely in multiple locations, or better. yet in the cloud.

Import and save as soon as possible

Once at home – or where you stay for a long trip – your first task, before taking a shower or having a drink, should be to start importing and saving your images. If you do not do it at the beginning, it's too easy to get distracted and procrastinate.

Upload your images to Lightroom or any other file management application you use, download them to Dropbox or another cloud storage provider. If you have taken more than a handful of images, you will need to let the process run for at least a few minutes. longer if you use the hotel wifi. You can only reformat your SD cards and reuse them if you are sure that your images are stored in at least two separate locations.


If all this sounds a little paranoid, well, you'd be right. But the data loss occurs. The camera material is stolen. And if you are not prepared, you risk losing hundreds, even thousands, of images that you have spent in time, money and effort.

Image credit: Eddie Yip on Flickr.

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