How and Where to Store your Photos in a Digital World?

Monica Castillo in Divine Inspiration © Benjamin Kanarek
Better Safe than Sorry”

Being that we are living profoundly in a digital age, it is imperative that I share with you my concerns about how to store your images safe for future generations to have the opportunity of viewing your catalog of work.

In the past there were negatives, positives films (slides) and prints which, if taken care of and stored properly, could survive several decades without serious degradation. Today we are hit by a number of possible dangers that could erase for eternity any of those images that were captured for posterity and meant so much to you, your loved ones, businesses and archives wishing to preserve the image which mirrors the social fabric of the day.

I became keenly aware of this problem when I converted to digital image capture. It is not practical for me to print all of the work I have done and thus had to find a way of minimizing the possibility of losing my works. There are many ways ones could safeguard their images. There is CD, which I find very problematic to say the least. DVDs which I find equally troublesome, DAT, which is a wonderful medium, but, try to find a DAT player today. I archive my work on about 8 (eight), yes 8 external and internal hard drives in two different locations. I make it a practice to save all of the final retouched published images of mine on all of these devices and store to all of them religiously when a job has been completed. I.e. post production included. I save my Raw images on to at least 3 to 4 external hard drives as well.

Many consider this as over kill. But imagine the thought of losing your archives to some electrical anomaly. In some ways it would be akin to losing your identity. All of those images that were an expression of your world view, lost for ever.

It is for this reason that I HIGHLY recommend that you save your images and any other important files to at least 2 hard drives, or 3  for that  extra measure of security. Eventually “Cloud Systems” might be the way to go, but imagine for some reason that the internet is down for an extended period of time and access to your precious files is impossible. So for now, until Crystal Quartz storage becomes the norm, I sincerely hope that you take my advice. As the old adage states; “Better Safe than Sorry.”

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About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • Vladimir Šimović

    A geek joke that seems appropriate.
    There are two kinds of people. Those who do backup and those who will do backup. 🙂

  • Michael Piestrzynski

    Benjamin, you are right to be so careful. I work in the professional data protection industry and it’s not often that people lose their data but it sure is not pretty when they do. I am only an amateur photographer and about 1/3 of my shots are family snaps (or treasured memories) and I would be devastated to lose them. Someone like yourself who makes a living out of photography needs to be even more careful than the average amateur. External drives are the simplest solution are very cost effective. RAID systems (essentially a group of drives bunched together to save one load of data) use a parity disk(redundant copy), or two, so that if one drive fails then there is no data loss. You just plug in a new drive and the whole thing rebuilds itself. For professionals i would highly recommend a RAID system or a simple ‘mirrored’ external drive. This is just a box that contains two drives that mirror each other. Again, if one dies you just plug a new one in and the whole thing rebuilds itself.

    And as already mentioned an off site copy is a good idea. Unfortunately is a pain in the ass to maintain. If I were a pro I would maintain my own copies at work and just pay someone to come in once a month and refresh a new copy to take off site. Cheap Insurance! I would not trust the internet online storage’ industry just yet. Data may not be secure or quite safe yet. Give it a few years though…..

  • Exactly.

    And it’s not just electrical issues that are the risk. To avoid the dangers that come with fire/water/burglary etc. it’s imperative to keep an off-site backup too.

    I personally have one backup on a permanently connected external drive that protects against harddrive failure, and another weekly backup off site for the above reasons.

    Tim