Whether you are an experienced wedding photographer or not, if your systems are not fool-proof, you will find yourself in a major panic when you notice some or ALL of the wedding photos are not there!! The wedding day is one of those events that we cannot take lightly as a photographer. It is a day full of memories that couples want to remember and look back on through their photos, even to someday show their grandchildren. Whether you are charging $500 or $15,000 for a wedding – it is your responsibility to make sure you don’t lose those images!
We know that sinking feeling…
We’ve had this happen to us to some degree before…
We’ll get to that in a bit…
Here are 3 scenarios that could happen to you:
While Jesse & Sarah were shooting a wedding, they started backing up their files at the reception. They were swamped with work during this time of the year, so it took them a little longer than usual to get their images edited. Two weeks went by and they started to upload their edited photos into the gallery. They noticed that something was missing. There were hundreds of photos from the getting ready time on one of the cameras that were just not there! Gone! The groom had hand-made his gifts to his groomsmen and those photos were gone too!
What had happened was while Jesse was backing up photos, he missed a folder of one of the memory cards and those images never got backed up, and the cards were re-formatted for other shoots. He never double checked each folder of each card.
Luckily, the groomsmen getting ready is not the MOST important part of the day, but it still stings a lot. What if the section missing was the ceremony?
LESSON #1 – Double check card back ups
- Back up your cards as soon as possible, mainly so you don’t lose or damage them
- Go through each card all over again to double check everything before you format the card
- Take a quick look through the images to ensure all of the moments are there (ideally get your second shooter to do the same)
- Buy several memory cards so you don’t have to shoot over a card until all of the images have been delivered
Ok, this one is ours….
We had only been shooting weddings for a few years. We had a great photography studio located in a warehouse that was a great place for all of our gear and computers. One morning we got a call from the landlord letting us know there had been a break in.
Our hearts sank.
Not because we had several cameras and computers stolen, but because Matt had recently shot a wedding, which he had diligently backed up, but all of the hard-drives and cards were stolen. Thankfully, several weeks later, after a lot of prayer, returning the money back to our client and doing a re-shoot to re-create some of the couple portraits, some workers found the wallet of memory cards on their loading dock in the pouring rain! They took them inside, dried them out and loaded them into the computer to see if they could track down who it belonged to. They noticed that the cards were full of wedding photos and they could make out which church they were taken at. They contacted the church, who then contacted us, and we were able to surprise the couple with ALL of their wedding photos that week!!
Be warned, there isn’t always a happy ending, and although a theft isn’t necessarily our fault, we need to ensure the photos are not vulnerable at any time.
LESSON #2 – Have a backup plan in case of fire or theft
- Back the images up to the cloud as soon as you can (we upload smart preview to Dropbox right away and then PASS for image delivery and long term storage)
- Have a back up drive at an alternate location or hiding spot
- Keep the originals cards with you until you have them backed up in 2 additional places
- Plan out the worst case scenario
Mark Walters had a triple header wedding weekend! This means a lot of coffee and a lot of late nights backing up photos. The first two weddings were done and backed up, but for the third wedding he had to reformat some of his memory cards as he didn’t have quite enough cards.
The third wedding came and went, he backed up the images and went to sleep in exhaustion! During the week, as the photos were being backed up again and sent off for editing, Mark had one of his hard drives stop working. It got unplugged accidentally and then it just didn’t work. The drive was toast, and all of the images gone with it!
Have you ever had this happen to you? Hard drives can be finicky!
The drive that broke happened to be the drive that he was backing up the second wedding to, and he already shot over one of those cards! Luckily, the images lost weren’t crucial images to the day but, they were still important to the bride. They still got hundreds of great photos but, this left them disappointed that they didn’t get those few photos that were missing. Anything that is missed can be hard to swallow when it is a wedding day. You can take 1000 amazing shots and miss 1 shot they wanted, and it leaves a sour taste in their mouths.
LESSON #3 – Have multiple Back ups and more than enough cards!
- Don’t move your laptop when a portable drive is plugged in
- Don’t be afraid to spend money on more cards to make your back up system solid
- Before reformatting a memory card, double check that the images have already been backed up
TAKE AWAY: Consider every possible and worst case scenario, and have multiple back-ups of your images!!! Have you ever lost client photos? If yes, what changes did you make afterwards to ensure it never happened again? Share your story with us!