You Can’t Call Yourself a Professional Photographer Unless You Do This

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The term “Professional Photographer” gets thrown around a lot. Sure, if you are making a profit – technically – you are a professional photographer.  I’m here to draw a line in the sand – a new minimum. So I want to ask you a very personal question.

“Do you use protection?”

What I mean by this is do you have a backup system in place?

In my book, that is the absolute minimum to being a professional photographer.  Without a backup plan & system, you simply aren’t a pro.  If you are working with paying clients, you must take your profession seriously enough to protect their photos.

Let’s get specific.

If you consider yourself a pro and use digital cameras at a bare minimum you need: 2 cameras, 2 lenses, 2 hard drives and a solid backup plan in place in case something breaks.

Why?  Harddrives crash, cameras break and lenses crack.

I’m not saying you must own this gear…it just has to be with you.  You can buy, beg, borrow, steal or rent it. (okay maybe stealing isn’t so good)

In my photography career I’ve had 2 CF cards become corrupted, a shutter explode, cracked 2 flashes, overheated a flash and blew a bulb, broke 2 strobes, dropped my 85mm 1.4 and had an assistant drop my 135mm 2.0 lens.  And these are just the mishaps I could remember off the top of my head.

Bad stuff happens.  So you’re gonna have to be prepared.

Here is my current wedding backup plan. This is what I feel safe with.  Every photographer has their own tolerance for risk I guess. I’ve listed the number of location each photo exists in brackets at the end.

  1. 2 Cameras shoot to 2 cards at all times.  (One card is RAW and the other is JPG) [2]
  2. RAW files are downloaded to 2 hard drives using Photo Mechanic (one Thunderbolt external and one USB external backup drive) [4]
  3. RAW files backed up to Crashplan (this takes a week usually) [5]
  4. SD & CF RAW cards are stored as additional backup until the job is processed. [5]
  5. SD & CF JPG cards are left in the camera until full.  This spans several jobs and keeps the JPG offsite from the RAW files. [5]
  6. Once the job is edited & processed, the final jpgs are exported to a separate external drive [6]
  7. Final jpgs uploaded to Smugmug (offsite sales & backup) [7]
  8. DVD of jpgs are burned and filed [8]
  9. RAW files are removed from Thunderbolt drive to free up space while remaining on Backup 3Tb drive.  Once the Backup USB drive is full, it is retired. [7]

My biggest hope is you rolled your eyes at this article because you are already doing it.  If this somehow alarmed you…please take action!

Backup workflow is important, what is your system? Let us know in the comments below. Oh and if you know a new photographer who doesn’t backup, please share this with them!

Mike Allebach
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Mike Allebach: Founded Brandsmash as a marketing resource for photo business owners with his mantra “Your story changes everything.” Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer” Mike Allebach crafted one of the most distinct niches in photography. Mike’s Brandsmash Stories & Wedding Photos have been featured in over 100 blogs, newspapers & magazines.  His articles for Offbeat Bride & have been read over 1/2 million times.

He will be speaking on how to go viral & interviewing Jaleel King live on stage at the  WPPI Expo in Las Vegas on March 1, 2015.


This entry was posted in Photography.
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