Stressed Out- Need Advice- No longer have Wedding Photo's

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by amylouhela, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Today I had a customer write me wanting their wedding photo's. Two years ago in January of 2016 they were uploaded to an online gallery. The gallery expired in January of 2018 and is gone. Well I always back up to external hard drives but my Seagate and my mac laptop were both ruined when we had a power surge at my house a few years ago. I have every single wedding I have ever shot over the last 11 years- except theirs.... I am feeling so terrible about this but there's nothing I can do I had forgot that their wedding photos were in the External Hard drive that fried. I should have uploaded them to my external hard drive... ughhh.. They did have two years to upload the images and I am pretty shocked that they never did! They were even sent four reminder emails every week for four weeks before their albums expired. I do know that they had ordered some prints.
  2. I wouldn’t bring up to them that they had two years to have uploaded the photos. I understand that’s a factor for you, but they don’t need to hear it. Since there’s really nothing you can do (did you contact the web host of the site the photos were on just to make sure there are no backups of them even though they no longer appear?), and if you feel inclined to try to make it up to them in some way, you could offer to do an anniversary shoot for them or some family portraits if they plan to have a child.
  3. I would never say that to them. I feel really terrible about this. I sent pixieset a message to see if they somehow keep the albums after I deleted them. I am praying for a miracle... I even had their engagement session on a different external hard drive. Thank you for the idea about offering an anniversary shoot. I just can't believe this! I think the album deleted Feb 1st!! ugghh...
  4. As harsh as is may sound, the old phrase "you snooze, you loose," comes to mind.
    You gave them more than enough time to get their photos, and as you said FOUR reminders.

    Are you expected to keep the photos forever? Is that in your contract? If it isn't in your contract, you may want to add a time clause. Define a time period after which you will NOT maintain a copy of their photos. And make sure to point that out to them when they sign, and remind them of it, when you deliver the photos to them.

    Because, there comes a time when you just have to cut loose, or your archive (and its cost) will grow and grow and grow.
    The 250GB drive is too small so you have to upgrade to a 500GB drive, which then becomes too small so you have to upgrade to a 1TB drive, which then becomes too small and you have to upgrade to a 2TB drive, which again becomes too small . . .
    And BTW, it isn't just one drive, you need working, archive and backup drives.
    Who is paying you to maintain that archive, and buy the larger drives? Over time your storage cost will keep growing, and this will keep eating into your business profits.

    Also, can your current editing software open the 11 year old image files. Even if it does, will you next editing software be able to open that old file? This is a danger if you use company proprietary image formats. So even if you have an image file from 11 years ago, you may not be able to open it. And even if you still have the old software that can open the file, will it run on your current computer? I have a couple old Windows XP computers, because I have a software that won't run under Windows 10.

    BTW, this subject was discussed several/many times in this forum.
    You might want to search for them, to see the discussions, as it may help you to deal with the subject of how long to maintain client photos.

    good luck
  5. As suggested, check to see if they have an off site backup.

    You might get some insight here

    Contact Us
  6. BTW, the site likely has commercial monthly backup, but expect to have to pay them to restore the data.
    The problem is the backup may for their entire site, and they may not be easily able to restore a single album.
  7. I have a storage file from 1979 that remains intact and reliably readily accessible. ;)
    It is an old book report folder that cost me .50cents back in the day with pages of negative sleeves.
    It does have limited capacity...
  8. What are the options? Explore them.

    One message to the client could be: it is possible the images may not be recovered, unfortunately.
  9. A couple of backup tips:

    Get three, 4TB external drives from Costco. Then label them 1,2,3. You do not need to get all the dives at once, as you will be using them over time
    Then make a FULL backup of all your photo files, and other data files which are important to you. And take this drive to your safety deposit box.
    Every quarter, or other appropriate time increment, take another full backup.
    Rotate through the 3 drives.
    The main thing about this backup is that you get it OUT of the house, where it will be safe.

    When you shoot an important gig, take another backup.
    When I did my nephews wedding, I took 3 backups;
    #1 when I uploaded the files from my SD card,
    #2 about mid way through the editing, when I did enough editing that I did not want to go through it again.
    #3 when I finished editing.​
    This adds project based backup to the time increment backup.
    For projects, you can just backup the project, rather than do a FULL backup of your drive.
    But like the full backups, get it OUT of the house, and into the safe deposit box.
    Again, you want 2 or 3 drives that you rotate through.

    These backups are separate from your working backup that you have attached to your computer, or in your office.
    Moving On likes this.
  10. I realize that the discussion here is digital images.

    For one, many digital photo studios don't give the original files to the client, so the only copy is with the photographer.

    But what was the convention in the film days, when just about all studios kept the original negatives?
    (That is, the customer had no possibility for back-ups.)

    How long is long enough for the film negative case?

    (I have thought about asking a studio where I had some portraits done many years ago.)
  11. Glen
    I guess it depends on the package photographer and the details of the package.
    Do you give only prints and albums to the client, or do you give them the option of the image files (and charge them for it), or does the package include the image files.
    I've read of photographers who give them the image files, and increase the fee accordingly. Because once the client has the image files, there will not be any follow on sales.

    The other issue is what happens when the photographer retires or closes down?
    All the portrait studios that I grew up with, are GONE, and so are the negatives that they shot.

    With film the storage and filing problem was even greater, since it took physical space. And unlike hard drives, film storage capacity for a given physical space did not increase over time. So there comes a time when they have to purge old negatives, because they physically do not have the storage space for it. If you are lucky, you might be able to buy the old negatives from the studio, if they still have them.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    We maintained three different studios between 1970s to 2014. We cut over to digital in 2004, so that's about ten years of digital imaging.

    The 'convention' in 1970 was more a 'client expectation': that the studio would archive the negatives. If asked we would say that we would keep the negatives on file 'forever' but would also warn that there could be deterioration and or acts of God, for example the studio could be burnt down - basically saying "all care but no responsibility".

    The logistics of Wedding Photography has changed dramatically from those film days. There are fewer "studios". I think that it might surprise you how many wedding photographers do actually sell digital files, separately or as part of the package.

    One part of the change which has occurred in Wedding Photography, is the greater need for the Client to be accurately informed of what exactly it is that they are buying, especially in regard to 'files' or 'prints', or both; additionally it is important to dispel any expectations that the Client might have apropos the Wedding Photographer being a lifetime storage house for all the digital files, unless of course that is part of the Photographers' business plan and in which case I think should constitute part of the fees paid. As already mentioned there have been discussions precisely on this topic, in this Wedding and Events Forum.

    It occurs to me that amylouhela might not have given adequate thought to whether or not her business should be providing the service of digital file storage for her clients, but rather she just assumed that to be the case, by convention.

    Just after 2004, when we cut over to digital and also at that time the Studio was sold to a new owner we contacted all Clients whose negatives we had on file. Some we could not contact because the personal details were stale, so we took 'reasonable action' by advertising in the media requesting old Clients contact us, so we could make arrangements to sell, provide or destroy those negatives. One salient point is we established that there was no contractual obligation to keep negatives beyond the period of the print sale period - basically we were doing the same as other studios, simply by convention.

    From that experience of storing negatives for decades and subsequently re-thinking these logistics from tors, I do think that it is very important to have it quite clear in the contract - the period of time that the digital files will be available for access and/or purchase. Certainly that's what we did from around 2004 onwards.

    In this regard, six (6) to twelve (12) months is my suggestion for the OP's consideration, unless of course her Business Plan in part states that it be a repository for Image File Storage, in which case I think that she should be charging a fee for that service.

  13. Do you still have the external that "fried?"

    Most external drives are pretty similar in that they're just a standard computer hard drive inside an enclosure. Usually the ones that are bus powered use a 2.5" laptop drive, and the ones with an external power supply usually use a 3.5" desktop drive.

    Damage to externals is often to the enclosure and not the drive itself-there's a very good chance that the drive could be removed from the enclosure, installed in a computer, and have the files removed from it with no trouble at all.

    If the drive itself WAS damaged, the damage is likely on the external circuit board and not on the internal platters. Depending on how much you want to pay, it would be rare that the data is completely unrecoverable. There are increasing levels of "operation" that can allow the data to be salvaged-often with a drive that's physically intact, the platters can be removed and mounted in a new drive. That's a VERY specialized operation, though.

    Depending on how much the client wants their photos, you could be looking at a few minutes with a computer geek friend if it's as simple as pulling the enclosure apart(I'd offer to do it if you were nearby) or could run in the thousands if it involves dissection and reassembly of the drive. The latter would be an extreme case, and a professional recovery company could probably do it for a few hundred dollars.
  14. Ben's point is extremely valid. Every single external hard drive I've ever owned had a "standard" hard drive inside. For the last decade+ these have ALL had standard SATA connectors. Ie. By disassembling the external drive, I could access the drive itself and hook it up to a system with a SATA-USB connector. Over the years I've had several external drives which became unusable with the enclosure, but, upon disassembly, were completely usable. I even used old external drives (removed from their enclosures) put into an old desktop to build a scalable NAS system hooked up to my network.

    In a nutshell, just because the drive is unusable does NOT mean the hard drive inside is trash, or that the data on it is garbage. Anyone capable of disassembling the external hard drive enclosure may be able to save your (and your client's) day.

    While that doesn't address the larger issue of long-term storage for you it may be a way to recover from this error, this time.
  15. I've been in a pinch for an internal drive before, and actually bought an external with the express purpose of taking it apart using just the drive out of it.

    Many popular electronics chains(Best Buy, etc) have a limited internal drive selection if they have any at all, and it's not unheard of that the same brand/quality/capacity drive can be cheaper as an external. Sales on externals are common also, but not so much on internals.

    Of course, if you have a real computer store near you like Microcenter it's a moot point since you'll most likely find the exact internal drive you want at a favorable price. That's also a 2 hour drive for me. Then, of course, if it's not an emergency you can do as well if not better at New Egg or Amazon. Still, remembering that an external drive is really just an internal drive in a box can save your day. Of course, you can also go the other way and buy empty enclosures(I have some great LaCie USB 3.0/FW 800 ones that look like a mini PowerMac G5 or Mac Pro) and build your own external to your taste.

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