Some kind of back up system is essential for any photographer, isn’t it?
My back up system for what I’d call my artistic photos (as opposed to family photos) is multi-layered, and probably overly complex.
I have them on my MacBook, then on an external HD that backs up everything on the MacBook.
I have another external HD to back up the photos on my MacBook only. (I used to use this to back up music too but these days Spotify seems to be all I need.)
I update both of these around once a month.
I also use Google Drive, which backs up my photos automatically as soon as I upload them from a memory card to the MacBook (via a USB card reader), and also syncs any changes.
For example if I delete an image on my MacBook whilst editing a batch of photos, Google Drive deletes the cloud copy too, so I don’t have any unwanted images cluttering up my Google storage.
I upload my best photos to Flickr, as a back up and to using tagging and albums to organise them (and subsequently find them) more easily than scanning through file names on my MacBook or one of the HDs.
So for an image I’ve considered good enough to upload to Flickr, I have five copies.
The original on my MacBook, one on each of two external HDs, one in Google Drive, and one in Flickr.
None of this backing up is particularly time consuming (especially the automated Google Drive back up), but why do I need so many back ups, when in reality I wouldn’t exactly be distraught even if I lost every photo I’d made overnight?
I’d just go out and make more.
This strongly ties in with my general feeling about the nature and purpose of photography.
Yes of course I like making pictures I’m proud of and want to share with others, but the main reason I go out with camera(s) is to wander and explore the countryside, looking for beautiful things. It’s long been a vital pillar to my physical and mental wellbeing.
Whether I actually do capture what I see with a camera, and then whether I share that, or even keep the image, is all secondary to the immersive experience of the hunt, and just the fresh air, solitude, and exercise.
Also, I love how a camera can capture a moment in time, and through some kind of sorcery allow us to defy the natural laws and see that moment over and over again for as long as we wish.
But by the same token, perhaps I feel that if I lose a photo, it’s a return to the true nature and flow of things.
That moment I was able to appreciate frozen for a far longer passage of time than it actually lasted, has now once more been allowed to pass by again, and I must find new moments to appreciate – either with a camera or just my naked eye.
Put another way, photographs (and cameras) are an extraordinary gift to us to help us appreciate the moments we sometimes seem too busy and self absorbed to notice without the benefit of a camera.
So when photographs are lost, we’ve already appreciated their gift for longer than we should have – we’ve been loaned it, rather than owned it – so surely we must be grateful we were able to receive and enjoy that gift at all?
This is why, in my mind, I’m philosophical about losing photos via some kind of back up malfunction – or perhaps through not backing them up at all.
But this doesn’t seem to fit with my actual, overly complex and layered back up processes I currently use for my own photographs.
So I’m strongly thinking about my back up set up, and how I might streamline it.
Or indeed whether, aside from having one HD copy plus another on Flickr, whether I need further back ups at all.
How about you? What kind of back up process do you have in place, and how well is it working for you?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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