Want to Save Your Files? Do the Back Up Two Step!

Maybe you’ve heard the horror stories. Maybe you have one yourself. A photographer friend of mine lost his entire portfolio when his hard drive crashed. More recently, another fellow photographer posted on Facebook that his computer had a virus and unless he could recover, all of his files would be lost.

I heard once that it’s not a matter of “if” your hard drive will fail, but “when”. So use protection! Now, I know a lot of photographers who are starting out are on a tight budget and they want to save every penny for that next lens or piece of equipment. But honestly, what good is taking pictures if you’re just going to lose all of them? And if you want to get paid to take pictures what are you going to tell a client when you lose theirs?

Step One: Physical Back Up

Memory is cheap. You can get an 8GB USB drive for about $15-$20. Now 8GB may not get you very far if you’re shooting RAW files. A 64GB USB drive will cost you anywhere from $120-$170.

Personally, I have both a USB drive (4GB) and an external hard drive (1TB). You can get a 320GB external drive for about $60. Or for double the price you can get 1 terabyte! Prices, brands and types vary. I’ll include helpful links at the end. I think I read that Scott Kelby likes the LaCie portable drives. The 250GB model will run you $99. The portable ones are handy ’cause you can bring them with you on a shoot and transfer your files periodically in case something happens to your memory card.

Step Two: Virtual Back Up

Google “online backup” and you’ll get a list of companies that offer online storage of your files. One of the most popular I’ve heard of is called Mozy. They offer 2GB of storage for free. Mozy claims you can store 300 photos with 2GB of space. It’s a good way to try before you buy. It’s $4.95 a month for unlimited back-up or $54.45 for a year (13 months actually).

Another service is called SOS. They offer a free trial, then you pay an annual fee according to storage space. $19.95 for 2GB, $29.95 for 5GB or $49.95 for 15GB. Think about it, less than 50 bucks a year for either service. That’s .93-cents a week!

There are others. This article from PC Magazine reviews some of the more popular ones and calls SOS the most user friendly.

Putting It All Together

Ideally, you want to have both a physical back-up and a virtual one. Your workflow could go something like this.

1.)You come back from a shoot and download the images to your computer. That’s 2 copies (one on your memory card, one on your hard drive).

2.)You finish editing and put the final images on a CD for your client. That’s 3 copies

3.) You delete the images from your memory card and back up the files from your computer to an external hard drive. That’s still 3 copies.

4.) You deliver the CD to the client leaving you with 2 copies.

5.) You need the space on your computer so you back up the files through an online service and delete them from your hard drive. But you still have the files saved on your external drive. That’s 2 copies.

Now if your drive ever crashes, or gets lost/stolen or destroyed. You have at least one more source to retrieve your files. Yes it costs a little money. But for $150 bucks you and your clients have piece of mind that the pictures you worked so hard on to take and edit are safe.


Amazon.com External Drives

Amazon.com USB Drives

Tiger Direct External Drives

Tiger Direct USB Drives


Death, Life and Everything In Between

Friday, January 22nd got off to a bad start. My cat, Paxton, had been at the vet since Tuesday. This was the day I had to decide whether to put him down. I made the call. Hardest thing I’ve had to do in 32 years. 

Cat Yawning

Paxton Lim. 06/01/02 - 01/22/10

I could go on about him. I want to. I want you to know how much I hurt. But that would be selfish; because this day is about more than my buddy, Paxton. This day, Friday, January 22nd is my father’s birthday. The big 6-OH. And except for a brief visit with him right after Paxton’s death, I couldn’t be with him that day. Because this day, Friday, January 22nd is also about Lisa and Ryan. 

Lisa and Ryan

I shot Lisa and Ryan’s engagement pictures in Baldwin Park, FL a few months earlier. And today was their wedding reception at Casa Feliz in Winter Park, FL. “Casa Feliz” means “happy house” in Spanish.  The Spanish-style estate was built during the Great Depression at a cost of $28,000. The elegant brick house was actually moved and now sits on a golf course in upscale Winter Park. 

Casa Feliz

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I arrived just as Lisa and her family pulled up. After the traditional family photos, I had just a few minutes of daylight left to take some photographs of Lisa and Ryan by themselves.    

Lisa and Ryan at Casa Feliz

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Then I was in photojournalist mode. I am most comfortable here. Spending the early part of my career in broadcast journalism as a news videographer, I enjoy melting into the background. Being a fly on the wall. Observe and report.  

There was a moment or two during the night when I thought of Paxton. But I pushed it back. Had to. Had to focus on the task at hand. I can’t screw this up. Lisa and Ryan are relying on me to document their night. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having. This is their night. 

I did make myself laugh once. As a kid playing football in the backyard with my brother, I remember him telling me to cover my guy like “white on rice”. So I reminded myself to stick with the bride like “white on her dress”.  Afterall, the bride is the focal point of the night. To paraphrase Scott Kelby, no one cares about pictures of the uncle. 

Lisa and Ryan's wedding reception

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Most of the night was spent just roaming, looking for those special moments. Not much use for off-camera flash in these fire-and-forget scenarios. I first tried my Lumiquest Bouncer on my 580EXII flash; but I found the results too harsh. So I switched to my Sto-fen Omni Bounce with more pleasing results. There was one area of the house, a porch, that gave me great color and saturation. I was bouncing my flash off the ceiling of the overhang. Maybe it was the weathered paint, but I loved the rich colors on my LCD screen. Whenever I stepped out there, I just dialed in the same settings (ISO 500, f/4.0, 1/45th)  and I knew I’d get the same results. 

Lisa and friends

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There was dancing. 

Friends Dancing

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There was cake. 

Lisa and Ryan cutting the wedding cake

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And then I was done. As I packed up my gear I looked back at the house and I saw one more irresistible shot. The interplay of blues and greens and orange under a full moon…well see for yourself. 

Casa Feliz

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 Then I came home and cried for my dear friend Paxton. Friday, January 22nd; helluva day. 

Published Works

Hey Guys-

 Just wanted to take a minute to share some of my recently published works. First up is the cover of the latest issue of Baldwin Park Living Magazine.

Baldwin Park Living Magazine

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 The shot shows Chris Lacey, Executive Chef at Jack’s Steakhouse in Baldwin Park, firing up a tasty dish. Baldwin Park is gearing up for the Food and Wine Festival in March to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  There are several events going on leading up to the festival. On this night, volunteers met at Jack’s for drinks and to discuss how to help sell tickets to the event. This past Thursday night, there was a “Martini Night” and fashion show (pictures may be forthcoming).

  You might remember my blog titled “Dancing with the Dudes” from last November. It was about two male championship ballroom dancers. Well, the article is in the latest issue of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine. You can read the entire article HERE.

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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 More recently I wrote about a shoot I did for CFL Magazine. In the blog ,”Two Days, Two Shoots” from last month, I talked about the headshot I did for Winter Park financial advisor Hera Bakthy. Well that shot was also in the latest issue. That article is HERE (no picture in online version).

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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 I also wrote about the Steinway Society of Central Florida donating a piano to Stetson University Student Heidi Ordaz. You can read the full article HERE.

 Well, that’s it for now. I recently shot two events for Baldwin Park Living, including that fashion show I mentioned. Stay tuned for those pics in the next issue!