Backup, Backup, Backup

So yesterday I wrote about questions you need to ask your photographer at your initial client/photographer interview. Most of those questions revolved around backup and what backup contingencies the photographer had for your wedding day. But now for the tough question, what backup plan do YOU have? Let’s set the scene, your wedding was a huge success, you have received your images from your photographer and with the images you have a disc of digital files. What do you do? Most people will email a few around, post some to Facebook or Google+ then likely put the disc back into the drawer. Some will go a step further and copy them onto the computer, maybe into some photo management software like iPhoto or Picasa. But what is your backup plan? Don’t be fooled, those burnt DVD discs you have from your photographer have a real world life of around 6 months to a year.

This is not just for your wedding photographs it’s for all your photographs, all your important documents, your music library everything that is now stored on your computer. Are you prepared for that day that your pc won’t start or you don’t hear that start up chime from your Mac?

How are your images backed up?

I will not dwell on this too much I understand this after all is meant to be about wedding photography but I take backup very seriously. Computers fail, discs degrade and people lose important files all the time.

Backup can be very simple. If you have an Apple Macintosh you have backup software built in. Simply visit your local Officeworks or JB-HIFI and buy a 1 terabyte drive plug it in and let Time Machine do the rest. Windows PC’s also have built in backup software but to be honest my experience with it has been not very favourable. I would suggest one of the free utility’s from a third party such as Hinxsoft or Comodo Backup.

Having 1 backup is a start, but working with hard drives on a day to day basis I can tell you that they fail and quite often. I like to work by the rule unless my images exist in 3 different locations they don’t truly exist yet. So here’s how I work, I have my Mac Pro with drive dedicated purely for my image library, I have a second drive in the Mac Pro which is a backup of the first drive. I then have an offsite hard drive I bring home after every wedding, portrait session or whenever I done any shoot to update it.

My backup workflow is simple. I return from a wedding and import my memory cards into the computer. I don’t erase the cards yet but now I have 2 copies of the images, I don’t start work on the images until I have 3 copies. Once the import has finished I have a program called SuperDuper which then clones my primary photo drive to my backup drive, I also have this clone task automated to happen every night at midnight so any work I have done during the day is also backed up. I still do not erase the cards yet as I have my 3 copies but know I feel safe to start working on the images. Then within the following day or 2 I retrieve my offsite hard drive and do a final clone of the primary hard drive. I can now delete the cards and I have my 3 copies.

It may sound intense but these are people’s images and memories I am storing so as I said I take it very seriously. It also is quite simple to do and back up needs to be simple or people can’t be bothered with it.

Now I don’t expect too many people reading this to go to that length, I wish everyone would but in reality most people won’t. So what’s the minimum you can do to make your images safe and with little fuss. Well I have mentioned Apples Time machine, it works well and is simple to setup. And the Windows backup software is good as well. If you do not have an automated service like Time Machine then set a reminder on your calendar to do it once a week or once a month. Even if you did a backup once a month had your hard drive failed you have the potential to lose a few weeks’ worth of photos not everything. It’s a pain but is not a disaster.

The internet also offers some great backup services. 2 that spring to mind are Backblaze and Carbonite. These are services which copies your data to their backup servers. Both services cost $50 per year per computer and they run in the background so you don’t even have to think about it. But if your drive or computer fails you can easily login a restore from your back up.

So what would I suggest for people to do? I can think of 2 different plans of attack. First for both plans go and grab that cheap USB hard drive and start your backups today. Now depending on your budget you could grab another USDB drive and store it offsite, at your work or friends or familys place. Or instead of the second drive sign up with backblaze or carbonite. Offsite storage is the key to back up. Offsite backups protect you from fire, floods & theft. So if the worst happens and you are robbed, and they take your computer and your hard drive your images are safe on the duplicate drive off site or with the internet service such as the ones mentioned so when your insurance replaces the lost items you can restore knowing you have all your memories.

Its not just your weddings photos that need back up but all your photos.

One final note on backup, please do not forget your phone. Many of us them as our primary camera for a lot of things, but so few of us actually import the images. If you lose your phone, it gets stolen or needs to be replaced you have lost your images and videos you have taken. Please remember to plug it into your computer every month. Plug into and important your images then they too will be included in your backup plan.

Back is serious business for me. My backup plan ensures I never have to tell a bride I lost her images but what people do with the images once I hand them over is up to them. Please make sure you backup.


Again if you have any questions shoot me an email at

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Do you own your wedding photographs?

So here’s something a little more controversial, do you own your wedding photographs? For a lot of couples out there the answer is no. You have paid a lot of money most the time in the excess of $2000 and in some cases a lot higher and you don’t own your images, does that seem right to you?

I’m not going to come out and say who is right and wrong, many of today’s wedding and portrait photographers are just following an industry trend that was set many years ago and hasn’t really updated with today’s trends of sharing and viewing items online and on devices.

I can’t tell you how many times I see photographers using marketing tools such as Facebook or Google+ to post images of couple/family/new born etc with the tag line “Do not crop or alter our images in anyway” then with a big water mark across it, it kind of reminds me of a chef not allowing you to use salt and pepper on your meal you just paid for. Now if this was just to protect the client I could totally agree. I do this myself; all images I post on public forums have a watermark. This is to add in advertising as well as let everyone know that in this context of the post or update the image with the text do belong to me. However all my clients have access to full size high resolution unmarked images that they can do with as they please.

I know the arguments other photographers have and many of them are very valid. One which I complete agree on is the reproduction of the work. Photographers have spent many years learning their art. They fine tune there images on colour balanced monitor’s they have the “eye” and know how they would like their images to look. They have spent years developing relationships with printers and labs a like who they can convey how they want their images to look. And I can guarantee an image which the photographer has printed either themselves or at a lab will look better than any image the client prints at home of their personal printer or at the 1 hour minilab.

This too works for both the photographer and the client. The client gets the very best image they can have hanging on their wall, and when people visit they say “WOW, who took that photo?” On the other hand if a photographer is seen by the industry as a “shoot and burn” photographer there is the chance that you’re amazing wedding photograph is printed on a printer that just isn’t up to the task. The reaction from the guest is “Ohh who took that picture?” is not something that photographers want to be associated with.

It is something I have personally weighed up many times. Yes I want all my images to look the absolute best they can. But I also want my clients to have and own their images. As I mentioned in a previous article I come from time before digital cameras, when a lot of professional work other than portraits was shot on transparencies (Slide film). Having worked in as a both medical photographer and advertising photographer, the idea that you owned the work that you have just produced was laughable. Try telling any advertising house that the image you just shoot for their campaign is yours and they can’t have rights to it would have been impossible. And as for medical photography well it goes without saying that any image you create belongs to the hospital and is part of patient records and confidentiality. So why is it the case that the wedding and portrait industry have such tight control over your images?

I have been on the receiving end as well. In recent years we have taken our 2 young’s kids along to a studio to have nice family photographs. We actually wanted the 4 of us in the photographs and have a third party do it to try to help capture some images where the kids weren’t pulling up for dad as is the case now when they see me with the camera. We went to the studio had our 30 minute shoot; they made us coffee and 20 minutes later called us in to sit and view the images. The images where great, no doubt about that. It made me so happy that I had someone else shoot them so we could relax. Them the studio went on to go through the images which as a parent you love all of them. They then show you their price list which until this stage was still not available even though I had asked a few times. Then the horrible realisation sinks in. First this is the one and only time I will see these images unless I pay addition money for an extra viewing session before 6 weeks after 6 weeks the images are gone for good. Second the prices the studio where charging for a simple 10x8 was incredibly high, and third there was no option to have the images at a high resolution on a disc to keep.

It felt horrible. It’s such an emotional and dirty play. But it worked. Ok I would never visit such a tight lipped studio again, but I walked out having ordered over $900 of images which equalled 3 10x8 prints. The other 25 or 30 images of my kids, who were 1 and 3 at the time, I will not see again. It was after that experience I decided I will never keep a client’s images from them.

So how do I manage the make sure that my images are displayed the best they can be will ensuring my clients have high resolution images for their own use? All of the packages we offer at Warnock Imagery have a printed component. It some cases such as our cheapest package it is simply a 10x8 print and a photobook while in our most expensive package we have large canvas gallery prints and printing credit for more work to be done. I see this as a best of both world solutions. Our couples can still get their images printed themselves but at least they have a professionally printed item of some sort to hang on their wall.

It’s an important question to ask when you’re shopping for your wedding photographer; do we get a copy of the images? Please don’t let the photographer dictate to you, if you are told that they retain copyright and that a the image is theirs just remember their business doesn’t exists without you so go find a photographer that will give you want you want. But please also consider using the photographers knowledge and experience to have some images printed you won’t regret it.

Again if you have any questions shoot me an email at

Please if you like this article follow us facebook and twitter

And even better if you want to see more of our work head over to Warnock Imagery