All those 1's and 0's

I remember my first 128MB memory card.  Boy was I excited, I though I had all the space I ever needed….

  Well things have changed. Since our professional life is made up of all those 1’s and 0’s.   Here is how I protect them

Wedding stockpile, I believe somewhere around 2.5 TB of cards

Wedding stockpile, I believe somewhere around 2.5 TB of cards

It's easy to get lost in a new camera, or lens.  While memory cards might be needed, they are often skimped on, as well a organized and redundant backup system.  Its something that is rarely if ever seen by a client. Its not the most dramatic or fun topic of conversation. However in terms of importance, its very close to the top.

If you look at the middle to upper end of of most cameras, nearly all of them offer dual card slots.  Most of the time offering options of


-Raw+ Jepg

While all have their uses, For some applications one might be used over another. But If you polled a group of working professionals, You will hear nearly the same answer every time.  “Backup” More specifically Raw to card 1 and raw to card 2.

The age old saying “never put all your eggs in one basket.”

I follow the 3-2-1 rule, and if you remember only one thing, remember this..

3 copies, 2 locations, 1 offsite

You might have been lucky, you might always be meticulous. Its situations we never expect, or something outside of our control which is what I prepare to.    

-Clients, children, or yourself formatting a card

-Card wallet dropped stolen or misplaced

-Computer/drive failure

-Corrupted card

-Mislabeled folders

-House fire


Just a few possibilities that I could come up with in 90 sec

My process at the moment

While shooting;

-Both cards are recording identical Raw files

-If cards fill up, (camera is turned off)  cards removed and placed in separate wallets.

One stays locked to my bag, other stays on me at all times.



- Raw files are ingested (named,keyworded,tagged) to the computer on to two separate drives. One is a 1TB SSD (used for culling,editing,working) , the other a 8TB HDD (which is mirrored to another but I count it as one drive).  Once the cards are all ingested there are now 5 identical copies of every photo I shot. 2 cards, 1 ssd, 2 hdd’s.

Note (while at this point one of the two cards I might use again The other stays unused until the job is completed. )


All of that sounds great until the house burns down,  
I used to have a hard drive I kept at my parents house. Taking it back to update it a few times a month.  Eventually even while being careful the constant travel killed the drive, but its a backup.

-Now I back up to a service online. After a quick cull to avoid uploading images of the ground, lighting tests, or other obvious “crap” they are put in the queue and backed up online.


 There are many options available, all with varying levels of plans/storage options/ file restrictions.  After testing a few, I finally landed on For a few main reasons. 1. Absolutely unlimited storage.  I am nearing 10TB, a colleague I know is at 25TB. 2. No limit on file types or sizes, as long as its an image file. You are good to go.   From a small jepg, Tiff, Raw, or layered PSD. 3. Some nice perks or discounts to companies like ThinkTankPhoto, Honl Photo, Fotoquote, PhotoMechanic, etc.  4. A website with integrated selling, printing, (using White house custom colour, as well as others) 5. Easy app to locate/send/manage files.

Whether its for a deadline, working on the road, or sending files, its nice to be able to have access to large final edits, or original raws from anywhere.

Not to mention, they back up data in a very similar way, and have a data facility on each coast of the US.

There are many different ways to either back up, save, duplicate or otherwise ensure that images are safe.  Storage is cheap, but having peace of mind knowing your images are safe is priceless

Wedding photographer second shooter

After a recent wedding with the amazing Calvin Hobson.  I thought it was a good idea to write my thoughts down, on what I think makes a good 2nd shooter, or what I look for in a second photographer.  The name implies, you are there to photograph, however I tend to think that at times its a lot more than that. 

While it is not completely required to use the same brand of equipment as the photographer you are shooting under.  It most certainly has its benefits. Being away from a gear bag, or while time is short, being able to switch lenses with the lead photographer if he needs something quickly is very beneficial. Same with bodies if the situation arrises.   


Helpful randomness

I have made it a habit to carry a "help bag". Its full of things that can come in handy during a wedding, but not just for the Lead photographer.  

Aspirin, double sided tape, scissors, sewing kit, allergy meds, bandaids, screw driver, nail-file, collapsable shot glass, sticky puddy, eye drops, flashlight, swiss army knife, cleaning cloth,  chapstick, glue, gaffers tape,  (the list goes on)

Nearly everything has come in handy at one time or another. 

Gear redundancies 

 AA batteries, as well as camera batteries.  At least enough to power all transmitters and receivers, as well as any strobes that require them.  At least one extra camera battery for the Lead.   Having a spare flash around, in case bulbs break, get dropped, etc. 

Extra Memory-  A few cards, one at least for every type of camera being used.

Down time

You should not have any.   Formals for instance there is very little need to shoot right next to the Lead photographer.  Besides it can end up confusing subjects on who to be looking at.  If its not already set up, reception lighting when needed can be set up during this time.  Breaking down other gear, or moving it to your next location.   Candids of people not getting formals taken. Details of reception hall, cake, place settings, guest table.  


I like to think of the lead photographers gear as my own. If there is a chance something can get knocked over fix it.  If something gets left behind pick it up, 

Things that will make a mark

Snack, it never hurts to have a power bar, or nature valley bar around.  While most of the time these days we are taken care of for dinner. I can't tell you how many weddings start around breakfast with little to no break or access to food until dinner.  

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Drinks, Know what the lead photographer likes to drink, or how they take their coffee.  Running around a cold ceremony, and straight into formals outside. there is nothing better than turning around to see your 2nd shooter has brought you hot coffee, or tea.  Plus at that point in the wedding both might need a little caffeine.  



Lots of other things to add, but they can wait for another day.