Photographers Are in the Midst of the Biggest Storage Problem Ever

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Mylio. Dropbox. Google Photos. EyeFi Cloud. Adobe Cloud. If you’re a more modern photographer, then all of these sound familiar to you. But if you also take a look in your desk drawers you’ll find solutions from Western Digital, LaCie, etc. For the most part they’ll work, but what about years from now when those hard drives start to fail? And what about years from now if these photo services fail?

What photographers used to do is take their negatives in for development, then print them and then someone in the family was responsible for archiving the family history in album after album. The hardcover photo album is still a wonderful relic of the past, but its simple nature is very archaic and not fast enough for today’s world. Seriously, who has time to sit there and put photos into an album?

For families, there are solutions like Bevy, which puts all of the families images from their devices on one spot. While this works very well for the consumer and household, it won’t work so well for the professional or serious enthusiast looking for a solution.

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So we as photographers face a massive problem: how do we keep our images stored in a fail-proof way? And when we do this, how do we make the sorting, keywording and searches simplistic and straightforward?

For us personally, Julius and I use Lightroom CC, edit our images, and then move them onto hard drives. Services like Mylio and Google Photos do a great job but they also require the user to maintain everything themselves. The site’s image library is very well keyworded, named and optimized for searches. Type in the word “food” into our database and we can find loads of images of food from our reviews for articles about food photography. These images can then easily be recycled for the content that we produce.

Not everyone does this, but photographers also generally want to tend to more important tasks like marketing, client relations, and email work, and not have to be worried or bothered by needing to carefully upload and track images. These photographers also have their own ways of managing their images into folders, sub-folders, catalogs, etc. Essentially what needs to be done is fully automatic indexing of all this content with the option to choose what gets uploaded when. But a fully automatic indexing solution would take a photographer’s RAW files and JPEGs and store them in a cloud solution of some sort. Then as a photographer’s hard drive fills up, they simply delete the images from the hard drive because they know fully well that the images are already in the cloud.

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Or to make this even simpler, a photographer could offload images from their camera right onto the computer and then immediately into the cloud. The photographer could then delete from the computer and edit their images from the cloud.

Makes sense, right? There are services that kind of do this, but not fully.

But then the bigger problem occurs: what if that company or cloud service fails?

Could a photographer have their own wireless media server with terabytes of storage that lives in this home? And could a photographer access these images from anywhere in the world from this personal server? Then to back their images up even more, could there be a cloud service that mirrors the images from the server into the cloud? That way if the Cloud and company fail, a photographer could at least get the images off of the physical device. Additionally, if your office or apartment is broken into, then a photographer could still have access to their images in the cloud.

Unfortunately, no company has done exactly that yet though some are close. Western Digital and LaCie have some solutions and Mylio and Google Photos are also alternatives but they’re not fully automatic necessarily.

Beyond photography though, this problem wasn’t totally fixed either with music. iTunes and Spotify may have all your music that you’ve ripped to your computers and hard drives over the years, but what if the services fail? Do you ever get them back?

In photography, megapixels will continue to be crammed onto sensors and file sizes are bound to get larger and larger. But we as photographers need to find physical and digital space to store them.

And at the moment, we don’t have a complete solution.