I've been doing this photography thing for a long while now and I have learned a ton in the process. Besides learning how to shoot in manual mode, conduct sessions, edit, market (okay, let's be real; I'm still figuring that one out), starting and running business, etc. I've also figured out a bunch of things having to do with photography that I think would be really helpful for clients, potential clients, and well... everyone, really.  So, I thought I would start sharing some of these helpful nuggets of information.  Hopefully, you'll enjoy learning some new things about preparing for sessions, choosing images to display and caring for your photographs and digital files. Also, if you have any questions or ideas for future topics, please share them with me! I'd love to address the things that you'd be interested in learning. 

My first topic I'd like to talk about is protecting your images.  Some might not think about the importance of protecting their images until they lose them, unfortunately.  I would argue that that photographs (especially family and wedding photographs) are some of the most meaningful things one could pass on to future posterity -because of that, it is crucial to take proper care of them. I may sound like I am preaching from a soapbox, and I'm fine with that --If this post prevents one person from loosing their photos forever, I will be happy about that. I've heard about (and talked to) way too many people who have  lost precious images to crashed harddrives, lost cds & cameras, fire, theft, human error, or -even more tragically- losing someone in those precious pictures much too soon, for me to take this topic lightly. 

I don't want to worry people or stress anyone out. The thing is, there are really simple solutions to this. I do my best to follow the 3-2-1 Rule for my photographs. Have you ever hear of this? Basically, it is recommended to have 3 copies of all your important files (in this case photographs), on 2 media types/formats, and 1 of the copies should be offsite.

Here is how I do it: I keep an external hard drive for each year that holds all my photographs for the year. I've been doing this since 2011, I believe. Each January (or late-December) I buy a new external hard drive (bonus: they are usually on sale around this time).

I also make sure to print my most favorite personal images -this is by no means all my photos, just the most meaningful (which is a lot by most standards). My favorite 20 images from each year are included in a nice family album. I also try to make less expensive photo books for vacations. And I print a lot of photos to display on my walls (my very favorite ones to enjoy), and smaller prints are made which I keep in boxes in my home -my kids LOVE flipping through these. So that is my second copy, in a second media format.   

I also pay an annual fee for a cloud storage service which I love. All my favorite images are stored there. I can access them from a computer or an app on my phone. I make sure to keep these organized -because between my business and personal photos and the fact that I've used this service since 2009, there's a TON of photos on there. 

So, there you have it. I've got my 3 copies of photos (harddrive, printed, & in the cloud), 2 file formats (digital on the harddrives & cloud, and printed in my albums, on my walls, & in photo boxes), and 1 offsite (cloud service). 

I love knowing that my most important photographs are safe, accessible, and I get to enjoy them on a regular basis.  I think this is a great way that everyone should follow to keep their photos safe.

What do you think? Is that manageable? Overwhelming? Overkill? What ways do you keep your important files safe?