External Hard Drive

by Jose Miguels / CC0

Backing up and storing your photographs is very important, no matter what kind of photography you do. For landscape and travel photographers, there is a higher level of risk involved. Not only is it likely to be very difficult for you to return to a location to reshoot, but you’ll never be able to duplicate the conditions to truly re-create your photos. So, how do you deal with backing up your images when you’re on the move?

Cloud Storage

One of the most obvious, and easiest answers, is to go into cloud storage. There are a number of providers who can offer you space here, such as DropBox, iCloud, Google Drive, Back Blaze, and Crash Plan. There are also other options targeted specifically at photographers. If you are an Amazon Prime customer you get unlimited photo backups with Prime Photos. A number of modern DSLRs are equipped with automatic cloud backup services, as well as being wi-fi enabled so you can manually send them to the cloud yourself.

The advantage of using the Cloud is that it can’t be lost or destroyed like a hard drive can be. There may be a very slim possibility of it being corrupted or lost thanks to problems with the cloud servers, but with most major providers, this possibility is so slim as to almost be fiction. One potential disadvantage is that it is possible for hackers to get access to the cloud and download your files, as has been seen a number of times with celebrity accounts. Educating yourself on online safety and making sure not to upload sensitive material should help in this case.

If you can’t upload directly from your camera, you will need to put the files onto your laptop and then up to the cloud from there. This may cause some problems when travelling, particularly if you are not able to find anywhere with free internet access to get the job done.

You’ll also want to consider pricing. With most cloud storage and backup solutions you will be paying a monthly or yearly fee based on the amount of storage space that you need. With high megapixel cameras it’s not hard to build up quite a large library of photos.

Another factor to consider is the amount of time that it will take to backup the photos you already have (if you are moving to a new backup solution). If you have many years worth of photos it can take quite a while for all of them to upload when you are first setting up the cloud storage account.

Robust External Hard Drives

Another option for backing up and storing photographs is to invest in an external hard drive – or, more sensibly, two. It can be pricey to get two at once, particularly if you go for a large storage size, but this is the best way to ensure everything is safe. If you have the photographs backed up in two places at once, and one of them fails, you at least have the other copy to fall back on.

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As a landscape or travel photographer, an ordinary external hard drive likely won’t be what you need. Instead, look for a more robust solution. There are a number of reinforced or ‘rugged’ hard drives on the market which can take a few knocks – such as being dropped, getting wet, or being bumped about in your luggage. The LaCie Rugger Mini series is a good example. These are the best choice if you are backing up on the go.


If you prefer to keep your external hard drives safe at home, it will be more of a case of backing up when you return from your travels. This, however, can mean a risk of losing images before you get them backed up, which means you’ll have to be very careful in the interim.

Temporary Use of Multiple Memory Cards

A temporary solution, while you are on the go and don’t have a chance to get everything backed up, is to put everything on multiple memory cards. For each shoot you do, or perhaps for each day of your journey, put the memory card aside and label it carefully inside a protective case. Then use a new card for the next shoot or day, even if the first one isn’t full yet.

This will help you to put each set of images onto its own card, which is fantastic for backing up and quick access later. It also minimises the chances of each card getting corrupted, and if you lose or damage a memory card, at least you’ve only lost one part of your images.

Make sure to label everything properly, take enough memory cards along with you for your whole trip, and back them up properly onto your computer and external hard drives when you get home.


Online Hosting

Finally, if you’re stuck for options, you might consider online hosting. This is not as secure or reliable as Cloud storage, and you might have to pay more to get the same amount of images hosted, but it is an option.

You can either set up your own website where you can upload images, or use a site like Flickr which is designed to showcase your images in an online community. Usually, the better option would be to only upload your best images, as both types of site are normally reserved for portfolio purposes. However, if you’re in a pinch and no other idea presents itself, this could be a way to get your images backed up online.

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When using this option, it’s a good idea to keep the original files safe and back them up separately later. This is simply because you don’t know if you will be able to download the images at full resolution should you need them, or if they will be deleted – particularly in the case of potential copyright disputes, some sites will delete images first and then hear disputes later.

 

There are plenty of options which might work for you when you need to back up or store your photographs. While you do face some unique challenges as a landscape or travel photographer, generally speaking, these solutions will work across any form of photography.

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