Storing your digital files - photo archival tips from a photographer
I get it, in 2023, digital files are important. That's why every collection option comes with both digital files and print credit for artwork. But what's the best way to protect your legacy and easily access files if you want to reprint them in additional sizes or give as gifts? I'm going to share some best practices and tips for you below.
Step 1: Download your files onto your computer
I know this seems pretty easy and obvious, but as busy parents, sometimes we get caught up. Even though your gallery stays up for a few weeks, don’t wait to complete this step. It’s easier to get it done right away, promise!
Step 2: Back up your files in a second location (preferably cloud-based)
You never want to rely on one digital copy only. Hard drives crash, computers break, and I know you want to hold onto your memories forever, so don't skip this step! As a professional photographer, I have a 3-step backup system to ensure files stay safe until delivered to clients: first, they are imported from my camera cards (I always shoot with a dual card slot when using digital) onto my computer, then they are uploaded and stored on BlackBlaze, a cloud based storage service, and third, I keep them on an external solid state hard drive as well (this one on Amazon is a favorite and I buy a new one for client files at least annually). For personal use, this may be overkill, but if you are more comfortable with 3 backups feel free to use this system for your family!
Step 3: Label your folders so you can easily find what you need
Digital archives are no use if you can't find what you're looking for. I organize my personal digital archives with folders by year, and then inside the year I label folders by event or child. For example, I have a 2021 folder, with subfolders labeled with things like "Zelie Newborn Photos," "Fall Family Photos," "Gemma Birthday," "December Disney Trip," etc. so I can easily find what I'm looking for. I create new folders every year so everything stays separate and I don't have too many subfolders to sort through.
Step 4: Don't forget to print your images
I love making this step easy for clients with a print credit to use right in their gallery (no additional retrieval or downloading of images required!). This is hands down one of the best way to continue to enjoy your portraits. I love printing albums for each of my kids baby photos, and an annual family album, as well as wall art displayed throughout our home. Take it from a mom of 3, whose oldest is now almost 7 - it only gets even more overwhelming to print older images as the years go on and your family grows! The best way to ensure you don't lose these memories is to print them right after your session.
It’s also so reassuring to know that even if technology changes, you can still touch and see your photos. What if you put everything on a USB, but in a decade the new computers don’t have USB ports or converters? Or what if the external hard drive crashes before you are able to move everything to a new one? And I know we all tend to use social media as an archive of our life, but what if that changes too? If Facebook or Instagram disappeared tomorrow, would you still have all those photos saved somewhere else? Or would your memories disappear with it? That's why it's so important to have copies of your images, both digitally and printed.
If you have questions about proper storage of your digital files, I'm always available to help walk you through it! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, I'm honored to be trusted with capturing these memories for your family. Ever grateful for my lovely clients!