Importance of Backing up

One of my biggest fears would be to somehow lose someone’s wedding photos while en route back to Colorado from where ever their destination wedding was. About a year ago, I wrote a very in depth blog entry regarding  image backup and protection in the office. Of course that requires that the images make it safely from the destination wedding to the office. The key to any backup plan is a lot of redundancy.  While in the field at a destination wedding that means duplicating not just the images but the tools needed to back them up.


Timothy working at his computer in a hotel



For example, it does me no good to bring two portable hard drives and only one USB cable, because if the cable is lost or broken, then the hard drives become unusable.  Of course if I am shooting a wedding in the U.S. there is a good chance that there is a store nearby where I could replace hard drives, cables, even a computer if need be, but that isn’t always the case elsewhere.  I also cannot rely on internet access or even power, because I have photographed weddings in Nepal, where neither was available. For starts I want to walk you through my workflow.

Destination Wedding Workflow

  1. Start by backing up all of the camera cards to an external hard drive.
  2. Copy those files to at least one more external drive.
  3. I now have three copies: the cards and two drives.
  4. Return the cards to my camera bag.
  5. Place one hard drive in my checked bag.
  6. Place the second hard drive in my wife’s checked bag or a separate carry-on.
  7. When traveling in a part of the world where I have a serious concern about theft or lost luggage, I will ship a 4th hard drive home via FedEx or DHL.


As I said, I need backups of all my equipment, so that means two of everything.  Here is the short list of what I bring for a destination wedding.

  • Two notebook computers, or one computer and one tablet.
  • Two (or three) portable USB hard drives.
  • Two card readers.
  • Two USB cables.
  • If I know I will be close to a computer store, I might only bring one computer and one card reader.



The idea is that barring my plane crashing, I can loose two out of three of my bags, and still get the couple’s images from their destination wedding back to my office in Colorado.  As far as the equipment goes, if anything fails in the field, I either have backup equipment on hand, or easy access to a store that sells it.  I am a lot less concerned about bringing a spear USB cable if I know there is a 24 hour Walmart across the street from the venue than I would be if the wedding was in the Caribbean. However, just like it is important to have backups of camera gear for a destination wedding, as I pointed out in this entry, it is just as important to have backups of your backup gear.



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