3 fail safe ways to Back up your images while on safari

Introduction

Photographers going on an African safari spend so much time and effort in their preparations for the actual act of taking photographs and not nearly the same amount of energy in how these images will be edited, saved and transported safely during their travels. Having an effective workflow where images are backed up and still having a working copy for social medal during a photographers travels is an important part of the photography experience. Over the years we have tried and tested various idea’s on what is the best and effective workflow for a traveling photographer. What we have found is that the simplest workflow is the easiest to complete day in and day out while on safari, if your traveling workflow becomes a chore then you are more likely to give it a skip.

There are a few very basic things we need to achieve with a backup and workflow structure while on safari and these are very similar too the processes one should adopt when at home as well. Most important we need to create three copies of the photographs as quickly as we can, after the time of capture that is reasonably possible. Ideally on to two different data storage methods and finally one of the copies needs to be away from the other two copies. Now too remember this just simply think 3,2,1.

  • 3 copies
  • 2 different methods of storage
  • 1 copy away

The way these are structured depend on a number of factors, but I am going to present some common scenarios that I have encountered while guiding photographers on safari and possible workflow for these. There are two more things I want to raise before we carry on, firstly there will be a working copy, these are images we would like to edit while on safari to share with friends, family, social media and then copies of files that are purely just back ups. Also to achieve a very basic workflow it is required to bring a computer on safari, it is possible with out a computer and rely on the high likely hood of there being a computer at your destination and then just using external hard drives.

First Option – Memory cards and Computer

Very simplest way to achieve a 321 is by having a camera with dual card slots where its set up to make a back up onto the second card at the time of capture (these are only back up copies), then once back at the lodge/camp the third copy is created (which will also be the working copy). This third copy will also be saved on a different storage method.  So you will require a lot of large memory cards and to replace cards simultaneously. Then to keep the copies apart in different bags, just incase that not all your bags make it back home with you.

Second Option – Memory card, computer and Hard-drive

Almost just as simple, keep your images on the card (first copy) it was shot, second copy would be the transfer to your computer (working copy) and the third copy would be onto the external hard drive.

Third Option – Computer and 2 Hard-drives

Transfer images off the cards and onto the computer (copy one and working copy) and the duplicate this onto the two hard drives. Important not to store any of the hard drives in the same location and ideally keep it away from the computer as well.

Cloud storage – The forth copy option

The cloud storage, is an interesting option and I have seen too many photographers think that this is a fail safe way to store your images while traveling. Now don’t get me wrong, cloud is probably the safest way to back up images while traveling. The problem is most international photographers have not experienced “African” internet and try to upload all there images to the cloud. Because upload speeds are so slow, the upload is never completed before they move onto their next destination. So they are creating more data that can be uploaded in the time available to them.

So the solution is to reduce the amount that needs to be uploaded. We suggest as you are going through your images select and star rate the key images from a sequence of images. Then upload these image onto a cloud storage platform of your choice.

Getting your work flow to become a habit

For any back up strategy or workflow to work, it needs to become a habit and critical to this is repetition. The best way to develop a positive workflow habit is to follow the same process at home as your would while traveling. So get into a habit to down load and instantly create a copy onto an addition hard drive, this should be done before editing and culling images. So the backing up process is priority and not editing image to share on social media. Once the back up are complete then start culling, editing and grading images. Once your edits are complete, select the images to go onto the cloud and let that process start just before you go to bed. So by the time you wake up in the morning, you have 4 copies of your images.

Depending on the strategy you are using clear your cards so you can fill them up again …

Regards

Etienne