How to Archive Old Client Photos

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by bilal_akhtar, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Ello mates!
    Firstly, thanks for taking the time to read this and help me in this first place. My name's Bilal and I'm new here.
    My problem:
    I'm starting to run out of space to store my client's, I'm going to buy a new hard drive soon. I'd like to know what your guys' model's are for this part of your business.
    I've heard of compressing the photos, burning them to DVD, and a few other things like that so if you are going to mention those, could you tell me about exactly how you go about doing that so that I could learn!
    Thank you so much guys
  2. I backup to as many external hard drives as
    needed AND burn DVDs. No need to
    compress since memory is cheap these days.
  3. A photo should exist in 2 independent locations or we should worry about it's future.
    I don't really count my workhorse machines' internal system drives.
    My emotions about external drives are mixed. - I had their PSUs fail too often for my taste so I'd recommend 2.5" drives powered via USB cable.
    Another idea: having a pretty old unspectacular 2nd desktop computer in a huge case filled with as many HDDs as possible (this might requirte a bigger PSU if you are abusing regular office machines!), running only when needed to access the big archives. - I would not dare RAID 5 or similar in such a machine since I am clueless how to replace a failed RAID controller when things (like mainboards) go bad. - IMHO archiving pictures is about waiting for bad things to happen and being prepaired for them.
    Once you have a big amount of pictures exceeding 6TB in todays terms; i.e. "2 affordable big internal HDDs" it is probably time to look for NAS (network attached storage) servers. Getting two of those would be a good idea (long term) and it should permit using RAID5, where redundancy is granted by the integration of one surplus HDD.
    Personally I am copying stuff to two machines and those to various external drives and not extremely organized with doing this.
    DVDs seem plainly annoying to me. - An external 2.5" drive holds 2TB. I'd be fine having an old netbook working as long as it takes to copy such a drive to another via USB 2.0. But how happy will you be about copying 426 DVDs 8 years from now to be sure they'll survive?
    Upon compressing files: I am an amateur (mainly) my digital darkroom skills aren't entirely developed yet and I don't even own a calibrated screen, so I believe in a need to keep my RAW files until all of that changed.
    Once you have a calibrated screen and all the skills you need you are surely free to convert RAWs into perfect JPGs and delete the then surplus RAW files to need less space.
    In general I would recommend to burden backing up data on the clients and avaoid storing their pictures "for eternity". - Maybe asking them via email if they managed to do so after a proper period giving them a chance to recover from the wedding and buy external disks would be the safe middle ground? - What kind of data server farm would you need after 30 years of shooting? How much will it be to replace all those HDDs after 6 years of retirement? Are you paid well enough to do so?
  4. 3-2-1 rule: 3 copies, on 2 different media types and 1 copy stored offsite. At least, that's the theory in the DAM book. So this seems to be the moment to consider a storge and backup strategy.
    Compressing won't help for RAW, LZW compressed TIFF or JPG since these are already compressed. You won't gain much by for instance ZiP compression.
    Optical drives? I'm not sure about these. As stated by Jochen DVDs don't offer enough storage space. Blueray may be an option but I don't think they gained enough momentum as storage medium other than films.
    I store my photos by year. When I ran out of HDD space last year I decided to archive the pre-2015 photos on separate external HDD disks. Photos take up most of your space and the originals won't change so these can easily be set apart.
    From the way you ask the question I think it may be time to start reading about DAM, Digital Asset Management, at least if your pictures have commercial value for yout.
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I'd like to know what your guys' model's are for this part of your business."​
    For the most part, I chose to re-model my Wedding Photography Business such that storage was not required beyond about 6 to 12 months. The new owner, I understand, has kept that policy. The Client has the option of securing the all the files for a relatively small cost, at around the 6 month period. It is really quite simple.
    It seemed both a progressive and also logical business choice to me, based upon the infrequency of required access beyond about the 6 month period for any Wedding Negative (or File).
    I think that such a redesign of my Business Model would have been impossible to do during the years of negatives, mainly because one selling point for most reputable W&P Studios then was the archival storage of negatives and (importantly) that older business model was almost universally a (relatively modest) FEE for the Photographic Coverage and then the SALE of PRINTS made the business profitable.
    Today there are many varied Business Models and Clients are used to, in fact many actively ask for, the access to the digital files and very few W&P Businesses now rely on Print Sales for the business to be profitable.
    I had an huge Wedding Negative clean out in 2004 (dating back to late 1970's) and another in 2012: and that posed the real question to me, as to why my Company was taking the responsibility, liability and costs of the storage and preservation of them.
  6. The real question is whether you want to be a storage facility for your clients' photos and take on that responsibility?
    I download and backup all my cards straight after the wedding onto my desktop. I check that the files open correctly in lightroom and then I also back them up onto two external drives.
    Once I've edited the photos I send a USB with high res JPEGs to the client together with a note that explains their license of use, how and where best to print their photos, and that they should back up their photos on a laptop and/or external drive as I am now no longer responsible for their images and I do not guarantee safe storage on my own system in case the USB fails. I have also included this in my contract.
    Mind you, I do keep all edited client photos plus RAW files stored on two backup drives for 2-3 years - but I don't guarantee safe storage - because it makes album production a lot easier if I don't have to borrow a client USB to do it! When I run out of space I start culling.
    Maybe I'm just a wimp. I feel very uncomfortable about safekeeping of client wedding photos, it's too much of a responsibility and potential liability issue.
    Maybe Cloud storage would be an option for you, Bilal? At least there wouldn't be a lot of harddrives or DVDs sitting in your office gathering dust ;)
    Jochen likes this.
  7. Anne has some good points IMO and experience ... place the responsibility of archiving images on the client. This is not the days of film where the photographer kept the negs and provided the prints over time.
    I've been doing weddings for decades. I can say that archiving client's wedding photos has proven to be a cost prohibitive venture.
    The return on investment in archival DVDs, or any other stable storage vehicle is almost non-existent. In effect, we are archiving thousands upon thousands of images on the off chance some client may come back for a replacement DVD or a few individual photos.
    This doesn't even take into account that Hard-Drives and DVDs are not a long term stable storage methods. Hard-Drives fail eventually (not IF, but WHEN), or can't be read by later operating systems. If you haven't noticed, few Lap-Tops or Desktop computers come with DVD readers anymore. In a few years everything will be Cloud based.
    I maintain a client's images up to 2 years in case they come back for a album, but that also has proven a waste of time and drive space. However, I DO leave each wedding on my Smug-Mug Pro site so clients can order prints or download for social sites because it doesn't cost me anything to do so, and I don't have to maintain anything.
    The wedding landscape is fast evolving. There is less interest in long-term value these days ... everything seems to be "for the moment" ... which has historians and archivalists deeply worried since everyday history is disappearing.
  8. I dis-established my wedding business in 2003. About five years later I destroyed all my client files as Anne said I did
    not want to be a depository for them. I have never had a call for images after that. I have kept records for tax
    purposes. I have saved some enlargements of pictures I particularly liked and the sit in storage and I have never re-
    hung them after I took them down from my former studio.
  9. I delete all images that didn't get delivered one year after taking them. My contract specifies that I'm not responsible for the storage and archiving of clients' photos after the images have been received by them. I store all delivered images indefinitely; I deliver 175 to 250 images per wedding, so the burden of maintaining such an archive is minuscule.
  10. I keep everything on my massive home server, but have a cloud backup as well. We are just starting out as a business and sometimes learn new editing tricks that can come in handy on older photos. Most of our first clients were friends or family so I have no problem with experimenting new techniques and then updating the portfolio with the better images. (we're only part-time for now.)
  11. For the most part, I chose to re-model my Wedding Photography Business
  12. A few thoughts
    • In your contract, make sure that there is a clause stating that you will NOT archive/store photos for the client. And all photos will be deleted after X years after the event or delivery of contracted album. And make sure that they read and initial that clause.
    • Hard disk space is cheap today. A 4 TERAbyte hard drive is easy to get and not expensive.
    • The only RAID you should use is RAID-1 mirror. Do not bother with RAID-5 striping. RAID-5 is too much of a technical hassle to deal with for the non-IT types.
    • RAID-1 mirrors the data on one drive to another. It does NOT protect you against accidentally deleting a file. When you delete a file, it is deleted from both drives at the same time. Your prior backup is what you need if you accidentally delete a file.
      • You NEED a software to check/monitor both drives of a RAID-1 mirror, or you could loose one drive and not know it. Then you do NOT have a mirrored drive.
    • Backup today is as critical as it was 30 years ago. If you do not have backup, you could loose everything. And that is NOT good.
    • Backup regularly.
      • The longer you wait between backups, the larger the risk of lost files, and the more files you will loose.
      • If you shoot a BIG event, backup as soon as you download to the computer. Do NOT wait till after you have done the edits, as that could take days/weeks, and you are at risk during that time. Then take another backup after you complete the edits.
        • One of my old yardsticks for backup was, you take a backup after you do enough work that you do not want to have to redo it again.
        • So if you do a LOT of editing, you may want to take several backups, as you progress through the files. This may require more generations of backups.
    • Backup should be stored off site.
      • This means in a SAFE place in a different location from where your working computer is. NOT in the same building, as a fire would take out the computer and the backup. I take a backup, then put it in the bank safe deposit box.
    • Have several generations of backup. The old grandfather/father/son concept.
      • If your only backup device dies, you have no backup.
      • Rotate through your backups.
    • Select a backup device that is easy to use.
      • I switched from SCSI tape drive to external USB hard drive, because
        • The USB technology has improved to the point that data transfer to the external hard drive is faster than to my SCSI tape drives. And this becomes more important as you have more and more data to backup.
        • An external USB hard drive does not need specialized hardware and software to backup to and restore from. This is more important for the recovery, when you have to recover to a brand new computer.
      • Monitor the technology change over time. What was a GOOD choice at one point in time may become obsolete and a BAD choice in the future. So change media as necessary.
        • Older media (zip drive, CD, etc) are way too small for todays volume of data.
        • Certain technology has become obsolete and devices to read them difficult to find.
  13. I use an external drive. I only archive JPEG photos.

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