Digital files aren’t “forevers”

Documentary Family Photography Wall Photo Display

Recently my friend’s hard drive crashed. She is good about backing up her hard drives, but for whatever reason she did not have a copy of this one. We were talking about how we always think “I’ll get to that later”.

She heard back from a place that recovers files from dead hard drives. They quoted her $1,800 to retrieve her files – quite a lot of money, but worth it if the memories are important enough.

BUT – I didn’t really come on to talk about backing up your hard drives and files – though you should!

I came on to talk about what happened to me the very next day:

A week and a half earlier I had a family session, with a family I’ve been photographing for three years. I backed up their files from my memory cards to my hard drive right after the session.

Because I had another session to work on and a work trip in-between, I didn’t start working on those photos until this week.

And to my horror, when I started working on the photos, about half of them were corrupt. Many of them were not even recognizable.

I always keep the photos on the memory cards until I have post-processed and sent off the pictures, just in case. This was one of those moments where I was very grateful for that.

So – back to my friend.

She lost some travel photos, as well as videos of her while teaching exercise classes. She said she has never watched those videos, but it would’ve been cool to look back on them in 10-20 years and marvel at the shape she was in, the energy she had.

This incident with my client’s photos showed me that having photos and videos in digital format does not mean we have them forever. The family session files would not have made it past two weeks, if I did not have the system of keeping the memory cards intact until everything is done.

It is not worth it to pay for a photo session to have those files sitting on a hard drive somewhere – the whole point is to be able to look at those memories. If they are up on the walls or in books, and you see them every single day, you can be transported back to that moment for a little bit.

THAT’S what you are paying for when you hire a photographer – you are paying to be able to go back to those moments.

So I really want to encourage you to print your photos, even if just as 4×6 prints. That’s what I do for my own photos.

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Documentary newborn and family photographer serving San francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and surrounding areas