Anyone who has ever used a PC knows the fear of God that goes through you when a blue screen pops up and says “OH HEY…I know you’ve been thinking of backing me up for like…the last 10 years, but I’m tired and ready to go nite nite. So thanks for the years of memories you’ve uploaded to my brain, and don’t worry…when I go, your browsing history will also go with me. </life>
Well, for photographers and photojournalists…there is actually something MORE terrifying than a BSOD. It’s THIS message: “Card cannot be accessed, reinsert/change card or format card with camera”.
Know what’s worse than that? Seeing it on three different cards after you shoot a major event.
The air is quickly sucked out of your lungs…your mind races…you can’t really see straight because all you can think is, “ohmagod….ohmagod….what the hell…ohmagod…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
It’s happened to all professional photographers at one point or another. We’ve all felt that moment of abject fear. It probably lasts all of a minute or two before you’re able to get up and go change your pants and start to work the problem.
BUT…in this day and age, you can help alleviate the possibility of this horrific event from happening by doing something SO simple.
Shoot to two cards.
Yes, most pro-level bodies come with two card slots anymore. Since I’m #TeamCanon, most will come with a CF and SD slot. Some of the higher end bodies have two CF slots AND a SD slot. Nikon/Sony has their XQD cards and Leica has 2 SD slots, etc.
So, once I got past the “WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL?!” stage, I remembered that I did indeed shoot to two cards during the event. Then I double checked with my second shooter (who lives an hour away) – and she had as well. So my Memorial Day was spent driving back and forth and collecting the images from the shoot. A much less severe penance than having to call the client and tell them we lost half their images from the day before.
But what if I hadn’t? What if SHE hadn’t? Sure, it’s in our contract that digital media has been known to fail from time to time, and we’re not liable if that happens, etc. but that’s not good enough for me. As a business owner, I have to try and cover all my bases for a client before I even take off out of the studio. That means shooting RAW images to two cards at once. Yes, it slows my shooting down a bit, but it beats the alternative.
After polling our other photographers, I found out only about half of them shoot to two cards. So that got me thinking. I did an informal poll of some of my photojournalist buds. The answers went anywhere from “It slows down my shooting” to “I’ve never had a card corrupt, so why mess with it” to “who are you, and how did you get my number?”
Truth is…it was probably about a 50/50 split of those who do and those who don’t.
While contracts protect us as well as the client, it does not take the human factor into play. How would you feel if you had paid someone handsomely to do headshots for your office, or an event for your family or friends? Would you be ok with the words, “well, it says in our contract blah blah blah?”
As it turns out, the Insignia reader I’d bought at Best Buy as a quick replacement until my new reader came in from Adorama had a bent pin. I never bothered to look at it before putting in a card. So in this case, it wasn’t the cards, but the reader that had caused their demise. Yes, I reformatted the cards…but they’re out of shooting circulation. Once a card corrupts or is damaged, it can’t be trusted again to keep the images safe.
Look, I can only tell you what’s worked for me over the years. I’ve always tried to go above and beyond for our clients, because that’s what I’d expect from anyone that I’d hire for something in my personal life.
If you’re newer to photography, just because you format your card, doesn’t mean the images are gone forever. Here are a couple of great software solutions you can use:
If you’re a PC User (such as myself) you can try Card Recovery. If you’re a MAC user, then I suggest Card Rescue. I’m not promising it works every time…but it’s ALWAYS worth a shot.
I get that some photogs don’t like having their shooting style lag because the cards write slower than their eyes work. I get that not everyone will shoot RAW to two cards. BUT, we can all agree that at the end of the day, we want to make sure we’re doing right not ONLY for our clients, but for our own mental wellbeing as well.
And since I’m a proud Philadelphian, I will leave you with this thought. The Eagles won the Super Bowl using a backup quarterback. Just sayin’.
We now return you to “I Need To Change My Pants” – already in progress.