Archiving your family photos is a habit of building from the start.
It's so easy to get swept away in the chaos of life, and easy to forget to back up what you photographed. I can tell you first hand, the moment you learn the heartache of losing those memories, you won't ever forget to back up again.
Do yourself a favor, don't let that happen.
Let me share a few stories with you....
In my first year shooting professionally, I photographed the perfect newborn session. The baby was a dream. I came home and downloaded the photos directly to my computer.
Being the fall and busy season, I had back to back sessions and only so many storage cards. A few days after that newborn session, I ran out of cards so used the one from the baby session and formatted it to shoot the new session. Formatting means completely 100% erasing everything off that Compact Flash or SD card. Usually, there's no getting it back.
AT the time, silly me, felt comfortable erasing because I had them all on my computer and knew they were there. I had already started editing them so knew each image was perfect.
The end of the busy week arrived, and I sat down to finish editing this perfect baby boy's session. I was just about ready to upload them to the gallery, and I suddenly got the black screen of death. If you're a Mac user, it's that screen we all dread.
I was sick to my stomach. The worst feeling in the world and it wasn't even my child. I cried and called every tech support place known to man. Apple couldn't retrieve the data from my fried hard drive, and the card I shot it on couldn't be recovered either.
I had to break the news to mom, and reshoot the entire session with the baby two weeks older than before.
I have never formatted over a CF or SD card since that day until I knew the files were backed up in several places.
Story Two: Two weeks before my dad passed away, we were stuck in a snow storm in Annapolis. He was so used to seeing his grand babies each week; it drove him crazy to not see us.
I was about seven months pregnant with his fourth granddaughter, and he loved us coming to visit. Two weeks was the longest we had ever gone.
The Flip video cameras were super popular back then in 2010, so he asked my mom to record him saying hi. The video was surreal.
For a man who hated his photos taken, let alone a video of himself, it was a short clip of him sitting in his favorite chair. I'll never forget the words.
"Hi, Julia, Elena, Hanna, and baby Annika (he wanted us to name Michaela, Annika). I miss you so much up here. I hope you're having fun down there in the snow. I can't wait to see you all. Until then, Grampy loves you and misses you all. Love you."
Two days later, he passed away suddenly in his sleep.
That video and the one photo we had at Christmas was all I had on hand. I still find it odd that he asked for that video and the wording used. Especially considering he was healthy up until the night he passed.
That single 3-minute video was so incredibly precious to my family. I watched it over and over, and I wanted to have it for my girls to see when they were old enough to understand. I wanted it for them to remember his voice.
Unfortunately, this was the hardest "back up your stuff" lesson I ever had to learn.
In the midst of moving in with my mom to help her, having a baby, and grieving over my father’s loss, the video was never backed up the way it should have been.
I stored it on my computer and uploaded it to Smugmug. I mistakenly thought Smugmug was similar to Shutterfly and wouldn't delete my files if I missed a payment. I was wrong.
Over time, I opened a new studio, same excuse of a crazy life, and long story short; it was lost.
I will never forgive myself for losing such a precious memory of something that would have taken me two seconds to back up.
I have more stories to share, but I think you get the point. So let me get to how to make this easy.
First and foremost…..
Back up even the mundane.
Even your smartphone photos and videos need to take priority. Not on your computer.
Before you edit, before you delete, and before you format your card, take just five minutes to back them all up.
Here's my personal suggestion, although I update this often I do some more research.
Use a card reader to upload your images to an external hard drive. Not your computer. Photos take up a LOT of space and WILL slow your computer down. Not to mention, if you’ve ever experienced the infamous black screen of death as a Mac user, you know never to keep images solely on a computer.
At the time of this writing, I use or have used
How to get them there
I download my photos through Lightroom and make the destination an external hard drive.
After you have your photos on your external hard drive, upload the original unedited RAW, JPEG, or video files into an online storage account. If you don't have one yet, start one. The small monthly fee is worth it for peace of mind.
There are many other online clouds, but I use Dropbox AND Zenfolio at the time of this writing.
Many people swear by iCloud, but I have had mistakes and things lost within it. Automation is good and a great second peace of mind, but also build the habit of taking control and putting them in more than one cloud.
Other places you can store your photos are
After editing your photos, reload them into a second folder titled "Edited -(month/year) into the photo storage site you chose, and again into another.
Facebook allows you to upload full resolution JPEG files into their system and you can even make them private if you wish.
I just went back and downloaded albums that were five years old with the click of a button!
What's fun about uploading images into Facebook is the Timehop app will show you a flashback each year of what you loaded that day.
Better Tech Options
There are better archiving systems, some that are even automatic, so you don't have to think about it. And honestly, a lot of us don’t have a tremendous amount of time and put it on the back burner and that’s when accidents happen.
There are a lot of companies that help you organize and archive but I always believe in supporting fellow momprenuers and this one happens to be one of the sweetest people I know. Many of you have likely checked out her info at the studio but if you haven’t, Media to Memories owner Kristy is amazing.