Jay Sousa: Workflow plan will help protect images

12/31/2011 12:35 AM

12/31/2011 12:57 AM

Christmas is over and I am sure everyone took lots of holiday photographs, hopefully with that nice new state of the art digital camera that Santa brought you! The dilemma now is what to do with all of those great holiday memories?

Back in the "old days" of film, we would run down to the neighborhood drugstore and get our film developed and prints made, come home and put the images on the fridge or in a photo album.

We would store the negatives in a shoebox or some other place where we knew that we could get to them in case we wanted to have more prints made at a later date. But things are different now. We don't have anything tangible to hold onto as we did with our negatives.

Our digital photos are there somewhere, stored on our computer's hard drive. We are all just one hard drive crash away from losing all of those photographic memories unless we have a workflow plan that safeguards our images. As a professional photographer the loss of one or more of my photo files could be financially devastating.

I will go over my workflow for making archival files of my images. The first thing that I do after a photo shoot (and I do this as soon as possible) is download the images off my camera's memory card onto my office computer.

There are a couple of ways to do this. First, you can use the cable that was supplied with your camera. Plug one end into your camera and the other end into a USB port on your computer; next turn your camera on to start the download.

The second method, and the method that I use, is to remove your memory card from your camera and plug it into a card reader that is plugged into a USB port on your computer.

A card reader can be purchased from any electronics or camera store starting at around $15. I always save my pictures on my PC to the my pictures folder; if you are a Mac user, this might be different. I always give my file a name based on what type of photographs I am downloading. For example, if I have just done a family portrait I will make a file that starts with FAM, client name and date; it would look like this: FAM-Smith, 12-31-11.

This helps me locate a particular file quickly and easily without having to search through hundreds of files. You will find your own codes for the things that you shoot. Just make sure that you stay consistent with how you label things.

Once all the images are downloaded, I will then copy that file to an external hard drive, which is much less likely to crash than your computer's internal hard drive, where they will stay permanently. When one external hard drive is full, I buy another. I do shoot almost every day and the files from my 21MP camera are huge. I need between 750 gigabytes and a terabyte of storage a year, while 500 gigabytes of storage might last the average amateur a few years.

I do keep the file from a particular job on my computer's hard drive until I am finished with that job and my client has finished photographs in hand. Only then will I delete that file from my computer's hard drive, leaving the file on just the external hard drive.

As an added security measure, I always burn a CD or DVD of that photo shoot as well. I never delete the images from my camera's memory card until I have the images backed up on the external drive.

It is very important that you discipline yourself to do these tasks as soon as possible after taking pictures to safeguard your once-in-a-lifetime memories.

I have updated my website, www.jaysousaphotography.com, with all new classes and workshops for 2012, including the exciting all-new Photography Learning Club.

Have a safe New Year's Eve and a happy new year, everyone! Make a New Year's resolution to take more photos in 2012!

Jay Sousa has been a full-time professional photographer for 32 years. He owns both Jay Sousa Photography and Gallery on the Square in Merced, teaches photography at Merced College, and leads private and group photography workshops. You can contact him at jay.sousa@sbcglobal.net.

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