Photography Tutorials

The Essential Workflow to Backup Your Photos, Videos and Digital Life

Backing up your files is a hugely necessary and sometimes frustrating step in your photography and video workflow. I show you my backup solution that keeps me moving forwards and all my files safe.

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Firstly as a basic theory you always want to have two copies of your files. Drives fail, data corrupts and if you only have one copy you are vulnerable.

So from the start, I’m out in the field and I am photographing, filming and creating my content. With some cameras the backup starts straight away with dual cards. With cameras like the Canon 800D or a drone they only have one card slot so as soon as that picture or footage is captured I’m vulnerable.  I want to move onto the next step as soon as possible.

I get home or back to where I’m staying and I want to dump the cards as soon as possible and transfer the files to the computer. Laptops now don’t have massive storage capacity so if I’m travelling I’ll take something like an SSD to copy the files to. I can now relax a bit because I have two copies, on the computer and on the cards.

I will then generally try to edit my footage or images from the internal SSD of my laptop because it’s faster. After that it’s then time to transfer the files to the main external hard drive or server. Until very recently I was using using a 5TB drive. It’s decent but it’s one drive and it’s slow compared to an SSD which makes re-edits unpleasant to do to and slow.

So I’ve recently upgraded to this the Drobo 5D3. This uses a kind of RAID 5 which increases speed because it’s writing data to all the drives at the same time and also gives you redundancy. If one drive fails I can just pull it out and pop in another and my data is safe. This one is thunderbolt 3 so it’s also nice and fast and you can actually edit 4K footage straight off this. In the Drobo I’ve got three 10TB seagate drives which gives me 18TB of storage with that redundancy. This is pretty expensive and that’s where the pain comes. All this time and money spent is not glamorous but you need to spend it to keep your files safe.

Now the next step is to backup all this on a separate drive to again give us that redundancy with two copies. You can use Time Machine or Acronis to do this and you even need to do it with a RAID system like the Drobo. If the Drobo unit itself fails, then your data is gone. At the moment I am using an 8TB seagate drive and I’ve copied all previous years work to separate external drives.

I then back all this up again using the cloud. Offsite backup is important in a case of fire or theft. I am currently using Backblaze which is a kind of set it and forget system that you get for a small monthly fee and you can back up and restore your files. You can access them online like Google drive or dropbox. I’ll put a link down below for you to check that out and you can store unlimited data and that includes external HD’s. 

Now the last step with your photos that we don't immediately think of is to print them. There is a theory blowing around that modern human history and knowledge is currently at massive risk because it is all stored digitally. Printing your pictures guards against this and it also just an extremely satisfying thing to do anyway. 

Backup Flow Chart.jpg

I created this diagram a little while ago to show my backup workflow so feel free to screen shot it and use it as a reference. Please also share this video with someone who needs to hear the backup message.

Out.

How I Import, Edit and Organise My Photographs.

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See my post processing workflow using Adobe Lightroom.

Your Photography workflow is something that is worth getting right from day one. It will help you to stay organised, work quickly, and easily reference an image again in the future. I have not always followed this advice in the past and it has been a time consuming and unhappy process correcting matters.

Adobe Lightroom now makes organising and editing your photos easier than ever. The catalogue system keeps everything together and allows you to edit in a non destructive manner. However, how you store and organise your files on your hard drives is entirely up to you.

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I find that it is best to organise jobs or shoots into year categories first and then something more descriptive as you go down a path level. For example, 2016>Weddings>John & Carrie or 2014>Landscapes>Scotland>Ben Nevis and so on. This could work for you or you might find an equally effective method but some form of categorisation is definitely required to stay organised.

At the beginning of the workflow I extract the images form the camera by removing the memory card and plugging it into a card reader. I find this a faster and much more reliable method than asking your camera to talk to your computer via a USB cable. I will also copy the files directly to my hard drive in the place I want to store them rather than using Lightroom’s import features. This is my own preference but I feel more control using this method.

Once the files are on the hard drive I will then import them into Lightroom by adding the folder to the catalogue. This opens the import window and you can add keywords, to assist your future searches, and add copyright information and change metadata.

The images them begin to load in and you can instantly start to view them. The next step is to grade the images deciding which ones are keepers and which can be discarded (although I never delete images altogether). I then go through a second grading to narrow down to the images I want to use and then edit. Once the images are edited they are ready to be exported and presented to the world.

The final stage of the workflow is to transfer the completed files to an external hard drive where they will live out their days in archive. This is done by dragging the folder containing the images within Lightroom. Doing it within Lightroom ensure both the Lightroom catalogue reference and the physical file are both moved. You are then left with space on your main HD for the next job.

Please make sure you back everything up too. Click the link below to see my back up solution.

https://www.firstmanphotography.com/blog/3-steps-better-photo-storage-backup

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