Our photography work is more than just a photo. It’s our work, our vision, our end result and our personal investment of time and money. We spend a lot of money on our cameras, lenses, accessories, computers and post processing technology. When we start totaling up the dollars to replace the replaceable (i.e. a broken lens, camera, etc), it can put a serious hit on the pocketbook.
The investment of our personal time and creativity ~ the hours behind the post processing, the volume of files ~ if that gets corrupted, destroyed or stolen, it cannot be replaced. Losing a year’s worth of work, a year’s worth of lost raw files and your personal artistry could cause quite a bit of angst, heartache and a few tears.
There are cost effective and time effective solutions to protect both your equipment and work. We’ll cover methods for 1) protecting and backing up your work (and preventing heartache) and 2) methods of insuring your gear.
1. Backing Up Your Work
If you have your work on only your hard drive at this moment, you are at significant risk. Technology, while advanced, is still unreliable. Other risks include human error (that darn delete button and trash can!), theft and natural disasters. I’ll never forget the time that I had backed up my work for the first time. A week later my computer had significant issues and the only way to get it to work was a system overhaul. Too close for comfort!
Since ‘lighting can strike more than once’ there are 2 key requirements for protection – onsite and offsite backups. This includes 1) Two external (not one!) drives and 2) storing your work in the cloud.
Why 2 External Drives?
External drives while tough, may be damaged too. ‘Reliability’ issues you weren’t expecting when you purchased the latest on the market can occur. Having two external drives allows you to have identical backups of your photography files. One drive can be stored at home and the other in another location such as an office or a family/friend’s home. If something happens at one location, the offsite backup serves as a safety next.
I personally update my local external drive every couple of weeks. I update the offsite drive once per month unless it’s a critical shoot and I update both immediately.
Tip: With Lightroom, Photoshop or other program, copy the complete directories that include the catalogue files, digital negatives and then paste it in to the formatted external drives.
Photographers need the ability to manage large files, raw files and large volumes of data. There are cloud based solutions that offer a variety of services. Research their features and their file management approach to ensure it ‘thinks’ the way you think.
My personal choice was Backblaze as they handled raw files, unlimited file size and file storage and works great with a MAC. At $100 for two years or a few dollars per month, unlimited cloud storage that supports RAW files and large volumes of data met my needs. I used the free trial for a couple of days. After I observed the upload process and reviewed how it looked (just like my hard drive), the decision was easy. My hard drive alone took a few days to update. The external drive took about six days.
Tip: check your settings so that your computer will not time out during the first long upload.
BackBlaze continues backing up your work in the background during the upload process and ongoing as new files are uploaded.
2. Insuring Your Gear
Whether you are an enthusiast or a professional, not having insurance is a risky proposition. Our piece of mind and our equipment is definitely worth investing a few hundred dollars a year for protection.
When considering camera and gear insurance, check with your current homeowner’s policy or talk with your insurance representative. Homeowner policies will cover lost/stolen gear (typically they do not cover damage from dropping i.e. on concrete or in the water).
Understanding exactly what they will or will not cover is recommended well before disaster strikes. A deductible at varying amounts may be required depending on your agency and personal selections.
If you are using the equipment as a professional photographer, you may be denied access to reimbursement on your homeowner’s policy depending on their criteria. In the case of professional photographers, equipment and other business related protection may be added as a rider on your homeowners insurance. Before adding a rider, research other available insurance solutions designed for photographers.
Organizations such as NANPA – North American Nature Photography Association, ASMP – American Society of Media Photographers, PPA – Professional Photographers of America or APA – American Photographic Artists provide their members with access to underwriters who specialize in photographic insurance. The costs are very competitive combined with their knowledge of our field.
Backing up our work effectively and having the right insurance coverage will bring peace of mind and allow us to face each shoot with a smile knowing our work and gear are are well protected.