Safeguarding Your Travel Photographs


Of all the things that could ruin a vacation, there is nothing worse for a photographer than losing images. Though getting pick-pocketed or being rained out can certainly put a damper on time away from home, there is nothing more devastating than realizing that you’ve lost days’ if not weeks’ worth of images. Credit cards can be replaced and you can still enjoy a rainy day, but the loss of images can feel like a sucker punch that’s hard to recover from.

I’ve experience just such a loss in the past and so I adhere to the following practices to ensure that I return home with all the images that I captured during my time away.

Take More Memory Cards Than Needed

I avoid deleting images from my cards, especially to make more space for new images. Instead, I will take ample Sandisk Extreme 16GB and 32GB SD cards with me. I may never use all the cards even after weeks of travel, but it will ensure that have my primary storage medium is intact.

Take Out Two Backup Memory Cards Each Day

I usually don’t need more than a 32GB memory card for a day of shooting, but I’ll still take two 16GB cards along with me in case I am especially prolific. Even though I have more cards in my ThinkTank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket card holder, I leave them in the hotel safe. Should I lose the backup cards, I still have ample storage to get me through the vacation.

Backup at the End of Each Shooting Day

Though some days, I am be pretty exhausted and eager for bed, I backup my images to an Western Digital My Passport 1TB external hard drive as well as the hard drive of my 13-inch MacBook Air. This creates two sources of backups should something happen to the memory cards and/or the laptop itself.

Use the Hotel Safe

Most of the rooms I stay in include a small safe in which I place my back-up hard drive and memory cards that have already been filled with images. I avoid carrying full memory cards on me as a memory card wallet may draw the attention of a  pickpocket.

Use the Cloud

Though the internet connections in hotels can be pretty slow, I will still utilize my cloud storage to upload images that I’ve edited or consider especially important. If the internet connection is robust enough, I’ll upload all the content of my media cards to the cloud providing another back-up choice.

Keep Cards and External HD on Me

When I’m on the road, I’ll keep my cards on external hard drive on my person rather than in my camera bag. I will store them in an secure interior pocket of my jacket. If my bag should be lost or stolen, I know that I will not have lost the images as well.

Download and Backup Immediately on Returning Home

As soon as I return home, I immediately download the images to my computer and its external hard drives. I will only reformat the memory cards until I confirm that I’ve successful download and backed-up all of my travel photographs.

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