Peace of mind: or how I learned to stop worrying and love being a wedding photographer.

Imagine a fashion emergency before walking down the isle.

Maybe the bustle broke on the brides dress!
Not to worry, use this safety pin (yes I actually carry safety pins along with other little things to help in these situations).
Knowing that little emergencies like this can be quickly and easily managed gives me peace of mind. And I’m going to say this a lot, but that’s a wonderful feeling.
Now of course you can prep your own little emergency kits (which I highly recommend actually). But what about your photographer? How prepared are they to capture your wedding?

Imagine if your photographers camera stopped working during the middle of your wedding. Or if you lost your USB key with all your photos on it. That would be disastrous, right?
Well that depends on how prepared your photographer is.

I love being a wedding photographer.

But the thought of anything preventing me from doing my job sends shivers down my spine. Not only does it make me uneasy, but it would completely ruin a couples special day.
So I go to great lengths to have a backup plan for everything.
Sure it takes time and effort and in most cases you will never have to rely on the backup plan. But knowing it’s there and that I am prepared gives me peace of mind.

Now it’s important to remember that most people don’t think about the “what if” scenario until it actually happens to them. And by then it’s too late.

I learned first hand about loosing files many many years ago. I had a hard drive full of personal photos that I had shot on film and scanned in. The hard drive died unexpectedly and I was unable to recover the files. Yes I still have the original negatives and slides, so in a way that physical copy was my backup. But none the less, I learned my lesson.

I am fully aware of how equipment can break, how accidents can happen, and how things can simply be misplaced.
Granted these scenarios may never happen. But it would be highly unprofessional of me to not have a backup plan for any of these disastrous outcomes.

So how do I ensure that my clients photos are safe and that I am able to do my job?

Well let’s look at my worst nightmare. My camera breaks! What do I do?
I’m sure my gut instinct would be to fall to my knees cradling my camera in my arms screaming “NOOOOOOO!”.
But the reality is that I would simply take my backup camera out of my camera bag and continue shooting. There that wasn’t so bad, was it?
Sure it sucks that my main camera broke. Although on the plus side I now have an excuse to buy that fancy new camera I’ve been pining over ;)
But seriously, knowing that something like this wouldn’t actually stop me from doing my job gives me peace of mind. And that is a wonderful feeling.

So what other ways can I protect myself and my clients?

Well what about memory cards. Sure I always carry more than enough of them so I will never run out of space. But what if one where to fail? I get home after the wedding and go to transfer the photos to my computer only to find that the memory card has become corrupted. All the photos are gone!
I could break down and cry in front of the computer screen holding the memory card in my hands.
Or I could take the backup card out of my camera and transfer those photos.
Ah there is that peace of mind feeling again :)
You see, one of the reasons I invested in my camera is because it allows me to record on two separate cards simultaneously.
So at the end of the wedding day all the photos are stored in two different places. I can’t stress how important this is. If a card were to fail I have an instant backup.

Okay what about batteries? Well that’s easy, I just carry more than I need. All fully charged.

What about lenses? Well I mainly use two lenses. Maybe three depending on the wedding. But if one were to break for whatever reason I do have backups. Closely related alternatives so I can still achieve the look that my main lenses give me.
I generally only use two, as I mentioned earlier, but I carry five.

So the wedding day is now over. I’m now back in my house. But the planning and preparation doesn’t end there. As soon as I get home I save the RAW photos on two different hard drives.
Yeap that’s right, two different hard drives. One is the main and one is the backup.

Once all the photos are edited and ready to be delivered to the couple I will then export and make more backups.
The Lightroom session will be exported as a self contained “Lightroom Catalog” and saved on both hard drives. This catalog is the most important as it contains all my edits to the photos in a non-destructive manner.
The exported high quality JPEG files are the ones that the client gets. These are saved in the same locations as the Lightroom Catalogs. The Lightroom catalog exports and the JPEGs are kept indefinitely.
So if a couple lost their files or USB key I would be able to provide them with another copy. I’m sure any couple would be happy to know that.

But what about if all my backups got damaged?

Okay maybe I’m being too pessimistic here. Or am I?
Theft and fire are two very real scenarios. After all most people have insurance for events like that. In the case of either of these, it doesn’t matter how many backups I have. If they share the same location, then they share the same fate.
Of course I have insurance for my missing/broken physical equipment. But that won’t replace the photos.
So that’s why I also do a backup online via Dropbox. Both the JPEG exports and the client catalogues are stored online.

I think I covered all the major little emergencies that could plague your photographer. But with the right planning those emergencies can be quickly and easily dealt with. In most cases you won’t ever be aware that there was something wrong in the first place.

When it comes to capturing someones special day, a day that can’t be repeated. Having peace of mind in knowing that I am as prepared as humanly possible is a wonderful and priceless feeling.

Oh and on the note of you potentially losing your USB key or digitally stored photos. What can you do?
Well you can make more digital copies. But there is a more rewarding way.
Print all of your favourite photos.
Whether or not you get your photos professional printed from your photographer, or if you print them at home and slide them into a photo album, the result is still the same. A psychical copy that can be viewed whenever you want.
I highly recommend printing out your favourite photos, regardless of the method.

For anyone who got the film reference in the title, you’re awesome. One of my favorite films of all time :)