Don't Lose All Your Pixels!
I read an article recently that described wedding photography as a 'discretionary expense'.
It was interesting to hear it described this way. In my head, it was just a part of getting married. You book an officiant, a band, you order flowers, you hire a photographer. But in 2018 (and forever after) it’s more and more true. Aside from the have or have-not decision, there are loads of other options. One such option: have a friend ‘with a good camera’ take your photos.
Don't worry, this isn't a preachy post about why you shouldn't do that. It's your call. Rather, this is for anybody that has photographs, taken by a professional, an amateur, or a selfie stick (don’t do that though, eh?)
Your photos are probably just a bunch of pixels. Digital data. All those precious memories, at their root, just a bunch of ones and zeros. Meaning...they're just as fragile as a photographer’s ego.
Tech in the digital world doesn't last long.
The point, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, is that your photos probably aren't safe enough. So here are my top tips for making sure you don't lose those precious pixels.
1. Backup. Backup. And Then Back Them Up!
Saturday. Midnight. I get home from a far flung wedding. My wife is in bed and my eyes are heavy. But the only option is to backup. If wedding photos aren't backed up I'm not sleeping. Once you have your photos, you should look after them just as well as you would expect your photographer to.
You, or a friend, has almost certainly had a computer die on them. If that computer is the one with your wedding photos, you're screwed.
Store your photographs in a minimum of 2 places, ideally 3, with one of them being in a different physical place.
There's an old saying in the geeky world of backing up; "Two is one and one is none".
That might sound like overkill but in practice, it's as simple as:
A copy on your computer.
A copy on your partners computer or tablet.
A copy with a parent.
2. Don't Rely On Hardware
Remember that Apple chat earlier? It's a real thing. I hate it, because I have a cupboard full of hard drives that one day I'm going to have to switch, but it's the inevitable march of digital progress. It doesn't stop. So that USB that your wedding photographs came on, won't work forever. Just like the CDs & DVDs you spent a fortune on now gather dust as you watch Netflix and listen to Spotify.
There are heaps on online storage options that you can use really easily (like, drag and drop easy). The cloud is where storage is moving. I use a few services for different things. Some of my favourites are:
Dropbox (which I use every day for so much).
Box which is pretty similar to Dropbox.
Amazon Drive which is included with Prime, in case you got accidentally subscribed to that like I did!
Google Drive which is Google, so you probably already have an account.
I'm sure there are loads more, but these are all huge companies that you can with reasonable certainty say aren't going anywhere. But even if they do, this is only one of three backups, right?
3. Don't Assume Your Photographer Will Have Them
My sister had to format her computer. She hadn't listened to my advice. She lost her wedding photos. She got lucky as her photographer (a good friend of mine) pulled it out the bag and still had her photographs stored. Again, she got lucky.
Most photographers will discuss this in their contract with you, so you'll know upfront how long photos will be stored for. Once your photographs are handed over to you, they're yours to look after. Please don't work on the assumption that your photographer will keep files indefinitely. If you also get lucky and the files are there, you'll almost certainly incur a charge for the time it takes to retrieve them from storage.
4. Get Physical
My favourite. You should definitely do all of the above, but if you do one, make it this. Print Your Photos!
Did you ever dig through a drawer and find photos of your parents or grandparents? Get all sentimental and stick some in a photo album? Can you imagine your grandkids rifling through a 40 year old iPad and seeing your beautiful self on your wedding day?
iPads probably won't exist in 40 years. Prints probably will.
The experience of holding something in your hands won't be taken away by any tech (check the resurgence in vinyl record sales!). Not only is it the best way to see your photos, it's a great way of future proofing them. Tech will change in ways we can't even imagine, but I'd bet all the Macbooks you can find that people will still get sentimental in 2045 seeing a 6x4 of their grandparents' wedding day. Prints, albums, scrapbooks. Whatever it is, get your memories down on paper.
And if you don't know where to go, here are a few options that will deliver them right to your door.
Folio Prints - If I'm printing for the wall or for clients, I print here. They are the best.
DSColour Lab - Another great option, at a bit of a lower price point.
So whoever has taken your photographs, for your wedding, your birthday, or your kids' first steps, please make sure they stay safe. It's easy to say you'll get around to it, but that computer could fail tomorrow, and those photos won't be back.