Dollars !
Creative Commons License photo credit: pfala

Digital photography is often thought of as “cheap” or “free” when it comes to snapping away. True, you don’t have to shell out the bucks each time you use your camera (as is the case with film). Also true is the fact that storage media is inexpensive.

But the brutal truth of photography, film or digital, is that it costs money to take and store photographs. And if you get serious about your photos and protecting them from loss or damage, the expenses only go up.

As your photo collection grows, you’ll need more hard drive space. Backing up those photos on other hard drives, DVDs, and online services… they all cost money. Additionally, things like hard drives and DVDs have a limited shelf life — so they’ll need to be replaced eventually.

My point is this: Save some money for storage and backups. The costs are recurring and ever-increasing. What good is that $800 camera body you just bought if you don’t have anywhere to put the photos? And how bad would it hurt if you lost all your photos from a hard drive crash and you had no backups?

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
TOC — PHOTO BACKUP GUIDE
BACK — HOW MANY PHOTO BACKUPS DO YOU HAVE?
NEXT — WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

Photo storage and backup is an essential part of photography. Don’t skimp on this stuff.

11 responses


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Or become more zen about photography and appreciate that until it is physical (i.e. a print), it doesn’t truly exist. And ultimately, they are all temporary things anyway (as are we), so why worry if a digital photo disappears. Relax.. it is just a photo.

September 26, 2008 3:31 pm

Well Sean, I see your perspective and I can appreciate where you’re coming from. But I would argue that photos are worth worrying about if they disappear. Some photographers make a living from those “non-existent” digital files. And others have a lot of memories wrapped up in them. From my perspective, I’m most worried about losing the photos of my kids than anything else. They are irreplaceable.

September 26, 2008 4:05 pm

I don’t disagree. I am a fine art photographer and make a nice second income from the sales of my pieces. To me, though, if it is a shot that is important to me, say, shots of my wife on our wedding day, I don’t keep it digital.. I create a print of it. I appreciate that I’m not in the majority with my attitude :-)

September 26, 2008 4:50 pm

Yeah, printing is definitely becoming a lost art amongst photographers. I also print the ones that are most important to me, but it becomes infeasible to do so after a certain point. Then again, prints can be damaged or lost too.

September 26, 2008 5:01 pm

I don’t see prints as helping at all — if I make one print it can burn in a fire. But I have 8 copies of each digital image, in three separate locations (one of them a bank vault). I think the digital are MUCH safer.

In fact I worry most about my old physical prints which are are only paper — like wedding photographs, or pictures of my grandparents. Once I scan them I heave a sigh of relief because they are now SAFE and I can’t loose them even in a building-burn-down situation, and they won’t fade either.

Ok I know I could make 8 prints and distribute those — but in reality am I going to do that with even a small number? Not really.

To me the image is the image — the format is not the point (bits, pixels or pieces of pigment).

September 27, 2008 3:06 am

With the price of a terrabyte HDD on sale – it is incredibly cheap to store photos/files now. I put one in a external enclosure so the power is off unless I need the drive so less chance of it getting wacked by lightening, or viruses.

I put it away until needed and when I go on a trip I give it to someone to safe keep incase my house burns down or something like that.

September 27, 2008 11:45 pm

The increased demands in computer hardware is a downsite of the megapixel race that is definately underestimated. And right now we are at a stage where we simply can’t do decent backups of our digital archives any more.

Let’s face it, just copying your archives to a range of other harddrives is not a backup in the strict sense. If you screw up a file on the original (working) copy of your archive, that flawed file will trickle down the whole chain and sooner or later replace all previous, working versions. A real backup would be to copy the archive to a medium that cannot be altered, such as DVDs or blueray discs. But even then one has to face the limited physical durability of those media.

September 28, 2008 7:15 am

HD’s are now so cheap ($0.13/GB) that there is no excuse not to have a ton of HDs for backup in misc. places. I just ordered another 1.5TB disk, because I am running out of backup space again. I am scared of burning DVDs since I would need too many of them. I keep my fingers crossed that multiple HD backups are redundant enough. Just make sure that you copy everything occasionally somewhere else, since data on disks doesn’t stay for ever.

September 29, 2008 12:46 pm


Why not use a free photo sharing site to store your digital photos? Photos Your Way is a photo sharing website that may be of interest to you. You get 7Gb of free storage to store and share your photos. You can keep them private to share just with certain friends and family or choose to make them public for the world to see.

You can also choose to sell downloads of your photos. If you do, your images will be licensed for use in print, brochures, websites and more! By doing this you are upgraded from 7gb of storage to unlimited storage!

http://photosyourway.com/

October 16, 2008 6:17 pm

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