How to keep your wedding photography safe

As a wedding photographer, I’m acutely aware that the photographs I take and provide to you on your final USB may well be the only way you can reminisce about your wedding, a year, decade or 50 years down the line. As such I’m keep to present this short guide on how to keep your wedding photography safe for years to come. Losing or otherwise damaging your wedding photos is often a huge concern of wedded couples and can cause much grief if they truly are lost, but with some easy steps you’ll be able to avoid this heartbreak.

Keeping data safe starts with your photographer

Before you consider booking in your wedding photographer or videographer, make sure they have a clear process for backing up and keeping their data safe. Any photographer worth their salt will have their work backed up and secured in multiple ways as they know that their livelihood and business depends on it. It should be the worst thing in the world for a wedding photographer to lose a wedding!

They should use multiple cameras on the day with possibly a third redundancy – preferably with dual memory card slots so they are backing up on the fly, they should also be able to describe exactly what they do with your data after your wedding to keep it safe.

What should you do once you receive your photos?

Copy everything on the USB you receive to your computer immediately. That way you’ll have a duplicate copy of all your memories straight off the bat. However, the expected life for an average computer’s hard drive is only 3-5 years, while a USB flash drive is expected to be anywhere between 5-10 years, which means that that USB drive is more likely to outlast you computer’s hard drive – which is one reason why it’s the current method of choice for photographers to provide your files.

Personally as a professional wedding photographer I keep an archival backup of all my work on two different physical hard drives both on site and offsite (in case of local disaster) Which means I have over 200 weddings backed up in duplicate at all times, While my most recent year’s work is further backed up on 3 further separate hard drives connected to my computer for editing.

But that’s just me, you only need to worry about your own wedding photos, so you can also keep multiple backups of your digital files like I do. But you can also take advantage of cloud based services such as Google drive, which is free to a point – you just need to take the time to upload the (rather substantial) size of your wedding USB. This is probably the most robust way to secure your digital files, but still isnt 100% perfect.

Print your photos

The absolute best way to keep your memories and wedding photography safe is simply to print your photos and display then on the wall, or in a wedding album. Just imagine 20-30 years in the future and you’re showing your children or grandkids your photos from your wedding and you whip out the USB drive you were given. They’re likely to laugh at the antiquated technology you have in your hand, and computer may not even have a USB drive that suits anymore. This would be like putting out a roll of film, or slides and firing up the slide projector. It’s already happening with the recent shift to USB-C based technology rather than the more traditional rectangular USB2 or 3.  But with a book, you will not have that issue. Books haven’t changed in hundreds of years and will last the test of time. your grandkids will be flicking through the pages and laughing at your outdated haircuts and zany clothes choices in no time.

What can you do if you have lost your digital files?

Hopefully this never happens to you, but it’s just the unfortunate fact that technology does fail, and it’s no secret that hard drives in computers are often the most common thing to fail. So what can you do?

First, contact your wedding photographer – if they are anything like me they’d have every photo they’ve ever taken backed up to wazoo like I do and be able to send out a replacement copy ASAP. That said however many photographers only back up to a certain point – be it 1 to 5 years – so that may not be possible.

Damaged or lost files on a hard drive or SD cards can be recovered using certain backup softwares, or if that doesn’t work you can send the hard drive to professional data recovery centers that may cost quite a bit. Just make sure that once you have discovered that your photos have been lost you immediately remove the hard drive from your computer to prevent any data still on the drive being overwritten accidentally.

If your device has had water damage, immediately unplug the device and let it dry completely and you may be lucky with it coming back to life, otherwise a professional data recovery service may be your only option.

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