As I read another report this week of a photographer losing his life’s work to petty theft, I started to question if I was doing enough to back up my own images. How many copies of your work do you currently keep? Are you doing enough to protect your photos? It’s easy to get complacent, but ask yourself: are you prepared for a thief to strike?
In the particular case I stumbled across, wildlife photographer Lawrie Brailey, from near London, was devastated to discover thieves had stolen his caravan. But it wasn’t the vehicle itself that was of such great concern; rather, the irreplaceable contents that lay within.
An award-winning wildlife photographer, Brailey was working for the Wildlife Aid Foundation at the time of the theft. The caravan was parked overnight on a remote site – owned by the foundation – but had disappeared when Brailey returned the next morning. Along with the vehicle went his portfolio of six years, contained on his Macbook, which was not backed up elsewhere.
The story made me question whether I was doing enough to protect my own work. First instinct when reading a story like this is sheer disbelief that any self-respecting photographer would go such a great length of time without making copies of digital files. His website is still live and intact, which at least means he has a copy of the images he considers his best. But undoubtedly there are unpublished images, unfinished works and original raw files that he required access to that are now inaccessible.
It’s easy to judge, but when I thought about the contents of my own laptop, there are a number of recent shoots whose final, photoshopped images I’ve yet to back up. Admittedly, all of the originals and safely stored on an external hard drive, but it’d still be inconvenient to have to work through editing these images again if anything were to happen to my laptop.
I often receive emails from clients dating back several years ago enquiring as to whether I can re-send an old photo as they’ve lost their own copy. Thankfully, thus far, I’ve always been able to meet their request as I keep a copy of every image I take – both the original and the edited version – on external hard drives.
How seriously do you address the storage of your images? Do you use physical hard drives, an online service, or both? Whilst I spend the evening backing up my entire back catalogue, let us know what you recommend below…