The difference when people take photos in their city or during the vacations and a photo expedition is that they travel light, with a minimum of luggage. They have to shift hotels or camps everyday with always the question “where do I store my photos?”
Of course when you are in your city and you are shooting during the whole day you can have with you several Cards and come back in the evening to copy them on your computer and favourite backup system without the fear to lose the images of the day. Even during your vacation, when you come back to the hotel every evening you can get your laptop and hard disk to copy all your files.
During an expedition the situation is a lot less comfortable and probability to lose a luggage, to be stolen in your hotel, to get material damaged by rain or whatever else is high. A backup plan must be established depending on the situation.
What are the backup options?
We must distinguish the backup plan and the means to apply the plan the backup.
There are several simple solutions to backup your RAW files. The first and the most expensive one is to multiply the number of memory CARDs, you can guess that this solution is good for one or two days but it can be very a hazardous solution for a 10 days expedition. The memory cards are small and light you can obviously keep them on you in your vest on handbag. This solution will not prevent the memory cards to be damage or be stolen in your vest or in your handbag.
The laptop, once you are back front your day of shooting you can quickly backup you RAW files on your laptop hard disk, this is a good solution. Be aware of the free space you will need on the hard disk. For an expedition of 10 days you will need a minimum of 250GB to 500GB.
The external hard disk, obviously, this solution is ideal for saving RAW files when you have two external hard disks you can even keep one in the hotel (in the safe), in the camp or in a luggage with you laptop and keep the other one on you during the day in your handbag. By this way, you will cover the risk to loose or be stolen. If you are in a group you can also backup your RAW file on the external hard disk of another photographer. If you intend to not travel with your laptop, they is an even better solution to the hard disk is a portable memory card backup device. This can be simply described as an external hard disk on which memory cards are plugged and RAW files can be copied, you can even plug an external hard disk to duplicate the photos. This means allows covering all risks to lose photos expedition. This solution is ideal for people who do not want to travel with their laptop but will be more or less 8 times the price of a standard external disk.
The ultimate means is to store on the cloud. This is the safer way but this option has some cons, you need a good internet connection which most of the time not the case during an expedition, even electricity is not guarantee in some expeditions. Moreover if you have a good connection it can be too long to copy a day of shooting. Let’s take the example you take around 1000 photos during the day, you RAW file are around 20 Megabytes in takes around 24 hours on a ADSL connection (this is a lux) to finish you backup every day. Matter of fact, you will not try to save your photos on the cloud.
Define a simple backup plan
Keep it simple, this is one of the key for safely keep your photos during a photo expedition. You are there to shoot, observe, feel, saving RAW files must be a daily non painful and timeless consumption action to enjoy your photo expedition. The plan should be split into two steps each day:
During the day: keep in your vest or backpack all your empty memory cards. During the shoot change the full memory card and keep in one pocket of your vest or your bag pack or hand bag. At the middle of the day I recommend to keep the full memory card of the day in another place than your vest or your bag pack. Most probably, you will get a place in a jeep, a bus where your can store them separately. This plan has the advantage to manage the risk of memory card damaged or stolen. The probability to lose the all memory cards is reduced and the higher probability will be only half of your memory cards.
End of the day at the camp or the hotel: the plan is again very simple in order to spread the risk to lose your RAW file. For that, get three copies of your RAW files, 1 on your laptop hard disk and 1 copy on two different external disks. It takes less than 15 minutes to do it. Put one of the external hard disk in your bag pack and the other either in a safe in the hotel or in your baggage. The laptop should be kept safely in the hotel or in your bag pack if you shift again the day after. Once all backups are done clear all your memory cards so that they are all ready for your next shooting day. The other option is also to replace the laptop by a portable memory card backup device.
The plan is the best to reduce the probability to lose all your expedition photos. It covers all risk by reducing the probability to lose data due. It’s extremely important when you are travelling by train, bus, airplane to separate all your support into your bag pack and your luggage.
Investment for backup
Nearly a photographer shoots around 1000 photos per day minimum during a photo expedition. This means that you will need around 1 or 2 memory cards of 64GB for a day of shooting will be enough. The actually cost of a memory cards for 64Mbyte is 30 €. An external USB disk of 1Tbytes is about 60 €. 1 TB is minimum size you will find.
Memory Card Cost – 2 x 30€ = 60 €
USB External HD 1TB – 2 x 60€ = 120 €
Total – 180 €
Less than 200€ to invest in your backup of 1,000 photos a day compare it to the cost of the photo expedition!
As a professional or an amateur, backing up your RAW file is essential during a photo expedition. A tiny investment and a simple plan of backup, with a maximum of 15 minutes of copy per day do worth.
The last words are “Keep your RAW files Redundant and Distributed” without spending all your time and money.