I had a hard drive fail on me once. It was a total nightmare. I lost two years of digital photos and all of my music that i’d digitised.
Thankfully this happened to me before I was a professional photographer and it was just my own images. Not a wedding clients. If you charge people for your photography, you need to be professional and have a proper bomb proof backup strategy.
There is a famous saying that ‘data doesn’t exist unless it’s in three different places and two different locations’. Read that again. It’s very important to get that into your head.
So sometime last year I took a good hard look at my back up strategy and decided that I wanted to improve it and future proof my workflow. I asked a load of people, I read articles, I did a lot of homework on this subject. Now following on from a conversation on Facebook, i’m gonna share with you how I back up. It may be overkill, but I’m pretty certain that i’m covered should something go wrong.
So lets start at the beginning:
To put this simply without too much technical jargon, this is an external hard drive with a difference. Its the mother of all external hard drives. It’s basically a big black box, which is the housing, that can hold a number of hard drives.
The data in a Drobo is stored across all the hard drives in the housing (in a RAID system). So my Drobo houses five of them. If one hard drive in there fails, the drobo will move the data across the remaining four. This allows me to replace the failed one and when the new hard drive is placed in there, the data gets written back across all five again. This is a great backup strategy as the data is safer than if it were in a standalone hard drive which if that fails, its gone.
The other good thing is that as I need more storage space, I can swap out the hard drives in there for bigger ones. I think I have five X 2TB drives in there at the moment. But in a few years I may need to change them for 4TB drives, and I can easily do this.
The only downside of a Drobo is the expense, as you need to pay for the Drobo itself and also the hard drives separately. You are also limited to using Drobos in the future as I believe that it uses it’s own code thingy (i’m not that geeky) that isn’t compatible with other types of storage drives. But I didn’t mind these two downsides, as 1. I earn a living through photography and need to be covered and 2. I liked the Drobo system and it’s used by a lot of photographers, so I hope it’s gonna be the market leader for a long time.
This is my Mac’s backup utility and is included with my Mac’s OS. Time Machine makes incremental backups of files that can be restored at a later date. It allows me to restore the whole system or specific files. If i’m honest I don’t totally understand Time Machine, but I know that it copies my Mac’s Hard Drive and if I need something that I’ve been working on there I can go back to where I store my Time Machine backups and retrieve something. I use my HD3 to store the Time Machine backups and this backs up every so often and writes over old backups, so it just does it in the background without me having to worry.
So now we go into the off-site / online storage. What happens if (please let this never happen) my house burns down and the Drobo and other external hard drives are lost in the fire?
I need some kind of off-site / online storage solution and after asking around quite a few professional photographers, I settled on BackBlaze.
“Backblaze is an online backup tool that allows Windows and Mac OS X users to backup their data to an offsite data center. The service is designed for end-users, providing unlimited storage space and supporting unlimited file sizes. It allows the user to backup data continuously, manually, when the computer is idle, or on an hourly schedule.”
How good is that. A total off-site / online storage solution and it only costs around $5 a month. This works in the background as well and I don’t really notice it.
There was only one time in the last six months that i’ve needed to retrieve a file and I ended up going to BackBlaze and it was easy to get it back. This service just gives me peace of mind.
For my wedding clients I use an online gallery service called Zenfolio. Others are available, but this is who I use. I upload all the high res images to the gallery, for clients to view and print should they need to.
This also gives me a belt and braces option, as I can always download the images from there myself and I take comfort knowing that my final files are stored in two places off-site / online.
To cover myself yet again. In my contacts it states that, it is the clients responsibility for ensuring that the high-resolution digital files are safely stored upon delivery and that I’m under no obligation to store them and that I recommend that the client stores them in at least two different places.
That may be a bit harsh, but I’m covered for all eventualities and I will always try to keep copies of clients files, but you never know what may happen.
So thats about it in regards to different storage solutions. It may seem like a lot of hassle and work, but as a professional photographer it’s just part of the job. I think this is what clients are paying me for and it’s what sets me apart from the weekender / hobbyist photographer who charges next to nothing for their work. Making sure your files are safe, is all part of the job.
I suppose that I should talk though workflow really, so that you get how all this goes together.
Ok so I’ve done my shoot. My camera has two card slots, one for the Compact Flash card and one for a Secure Digital card. I had a couple of cards fail on me once after shooting a wedding. I’ll probably write a blog post about that and what to do when that happens (it will happen to you) at some point.
I use the Compact Flash card to write the RAW files in camera and the Secure Digital card to write high quality back up JPEG files. I love that I’m already backing up in camera as I shoot.
So when I upload the RAW files from the cards to Lightroom, they go straight to a folder on my Drobo and I check the box to make a second copy of the RAW’s to my external hard drive HD4 (when I have the finished images, i’ll delete the second copy of the RAWs on HD4 when I remember). This way the RAW files are in two places in my office and still on the Compact Flash cards. Sometimes I won’t erase the cards until i’ve worked on the final images. Sometimes I have a shoot the next day and I have to use the cards, but at least I know that I have two copies of the RAW files, at this point.
Once I’ve finished editing and exported the final JPEGs to the final folder on my Drobo. I’ll make a copy of them to HD3 & HD4. BackBlaze is also working its magic in the background and in the case of wedding photography I’ll upload the images to my Online gallery. As well as burning a disc for the client.
So the final images are stored in three places in my office. One of them on the Drobo that will write the data across different hard drives should one fail. They are also stored in two different off site / online places as well. So that’s five different places and two different locations.
Well one of my favorite photographers is a chap called Platon.
I’ve spent many an hour just looking at his work. In books, on his website, individual images, his whole portfolio. They guys a magician. Really.
I came across this video of him the other day, talking about some of the images that he’s taken that involve power. It’s around 30 minutes long, but I really really really recommend that you make the time to watch a master talk about his work. You won’t be disappointed.
This is something that I posted a long time ago on Flickr, but every time I have a Full English breakfast I always think about it. So seeing as i’ve had a couple of these recently I thought I’d share my Full English rules with you:
1. DRINKS – I like a glass of OJ or a hot chocolate before a Full English (while i’m waiting) and a cup of tea or coffee after to wash it down (it only gets cold during); as being a man i can only eat or drink, never two things at the same time. A glass of iced water is also a must.
2. BREAD – three main assortments (fried, toast and normal),
Fried is great, although only as a treat.
Toast is best, this has to be warm and is to be eaten with the breakfast (can be dipped) although if there is no fried bread, toast must be used in conjunction with egg instead (see 3) see its multipurpose thats why its the best.
Normal bread, only good before and after breakfast. Before as a warm up to breakfast, while you wait; and after to mop up the remaining jucies. (see 4, 3 and 5)
3. EGGS – poached or fried (i’m opting for poached now days as it means a runnier yoke), and the yoke MUST be runny, and they have to be on some bread type thing (see 2).
4. TOMATOES – I actually prefer the tinned plum variety, as they hold a lot of liquid and mix very well with the bread type thing (see 2) and the runny egg (see 3) and the beans (see 5).
5. BEANS – Heinz
6. BACON – must be more than one slice, not too crispy that you can’t get it on your fork, and preferably without any fat, or little fat. never stringy fat, yuck.
7. SAUSAGES – as best as you can get, minimum length 8cm. I like it when the skin is a little crispy and the inside is all nice and has a good texture of meat. Not too herby either or too experimental.
8. MUSHROOMS – preferably fresh and not too watery, i’m not a big fan of the tinned type.
9. BLACK PUDDING – now this is a real treat, and should only be had once or twice a year, as having it too often puts you off it.
10. READING MATERIAL – this should reflect the surroundings. So if it is a proper greasy spoon its the Sun, the Star at a push the Mirror. If its a posh place, the Guardian, the Observer or the Sunday times. The daily Mail should never be read no matter where you are.
11. NEVER NEVERS, AND NEVER SAY NEVERS – a big no to chips and roast potatoes Hash browns are OK as is a bit of bubble and squeak. An even bigger no to a burger (i’ve seen it done). No No No to sauce’s (ketchup, brown sauce, and mayo – you know who you are) there should be enough sauce stuff with the beans (see 5) the egg (see 3) and the tomatoes (see 4). A bit of greenery is OK (depending on the establishment) although this should never be eaten. A beer is only good while on holiday or at an airport.
12. YOU CAN’T GET BETTER THAN – a home cooked fry up. No contest.
13. EATING – believe it or not there are high status and low status food items in a Full English. These must be combined to make the perfect combination on the fork and also have to be eaten in the right order. Stick with me here. Sausage = high status. and the last bit of a sausage must alway be saved until last to mop up sauce stuff and has the highest status. The egg yoke is the joint highest status, and should be started on first, so that it bursts and covers the bread type thing appropriately. All other items can be eaten in any order so long as the egg yoke is burst first and the last end of the sausage is eaten last.
Right that is order dealt with. Now onto combinations. as mentioned sausage, bacon and egg yoke = high status. tin toms, beans, bread type thing, egg white and mushrooms = low status. However tin toms, mushrooms, bread type thing and a bit of egg white combined on the fork = high status. get me? Low status food items can be combined (in any order) to make a high status food items. The holy grail of combinations is a high status food item with two or more low status items. for example, bacon (high status) combined with mushroom and beans (low status ) = holy grail. I hope that makes sense and you don’t think worse of me for being that strange. But once you gain this knowledge life with never be the same.
As a note this high and low status plus the holy grail theory can also be applied to a roast dinner, to great effect.
So there you have it. Next time you eat a Full English, contemplate these rules and you’ll go far.
Award winning boutique digital agency Bite Studios, commissioned me to take some portraits for them at their Brighton studio. The idea being that we would take a few different types of images that could be used for different purposes.
So we took some classic head shots / profile images, some half body portraits and some more character full length portraits. Each of these can be used in different ways for example, on the ‘about’ page, on blog post to denote the author, on LinkedIn profiles, any company marketing material, when they give talks at conferences etc. By taking a few different styles of portraits in one session we made the most of the photo shoot and Bite got real value for money. Also as with all my corporate portrait shoots, we made a note of the set up, so that when they expand we can shoot new staff members in the same way.
I won’t make this a long blog post, i’ll just let the pictures do the talking. So check out the big group shot, which can be added to should we need to, the character portraits and the profile shots (which i’ve converted to black and white, to show you something different as lots of companies want black and white images instead of colour ones)
If you’d like some company profile shots and want to take advantage of my HALF PRICE HEAD SHOTS offer check out the link and get in contact with me.
It may not be the most catchy of blog titles, but it struck me recently that I’m very fortunate to be able keep myself amused when I have a little time to spare.
I’ve recently taught a flash photography workshop in Bath over two days and on the second day I had about half an hour free to wonder around the city. I haven’t been there in about eight years and forgot how beautiful a city it is. So rather than pop into some shops or have a coffee, I thought i’d go on a quick photo walk and use my phone to take a few pictures. I had the best time. Walking around a city looking for images is very different to just walking around. You’re really looking at things, studying angles, looking for points of interest etc.
It was a great way to kill some spare time and it struck me that I’m never really bored when I have a camera with me. In this case my iPhone, which I think was the best instrument for that purpose. It enabled me to take, edit and upload the images immediately. One of the unexpected results of this, was that I got quite a few comments from people on Facebook & Twitter from people who use to live there, or knew it well, thanking me for the memories and sharing some of theirs with me. Its a great world we live in and thankfully I can share my view of it with you.
I love the way this guy is using simple off camera flash and shooting so freely with it in the street. It gives a very different look to his images from the standard daylight street photos by adding some very harsh shadows to the image. I especially love the way he takes the photos and the reactions from everyone else. He really doesn’t care.
I’ve been thinking about the benefits of constructive criticism for photographers a lot this week. It’s following on from me judging the Brighton & Hove Camera Club photo competition last week.
I was invited to come along and stand up in front of the 60ish members who had attended that night and give my thoughts on the 45 images, which were submitted to the competition. Now I have to say that it’s pretty nerve wracking standing up and talking in front of that many people, let alone giving my thoughts on their photography, knowing that most of them were in the room.
I had a big decision to make beforehand that took me a while to make. Do I say good things about all the photos and make everyone happy and give them all a good score (they are judged on a Gold, Silver, Bronze and Credit rating). Or do I give my honest opinion on the photos, no matter what that is, and say how I would have improved the photos or what I honestly didn’t like about it?
Well I took the hard road and decided that I’d be honest as although it may not win me many fans, it would be for the best in the long run.
There is a great tendency to be nice about people’s photos. I’m sure we are all guilty of commenting on an image on-line from someone that we know and say how great / wonderful / beautiful it is, even if we don’t really like it. The Internet has this capacity to make us all into ‘yes men’ saying what we think people want to hear.
It’s very easy to post a photo to the right flickr group or on facebook for your friends to see and get everyone praising its artistic quality. Well those flickr groups are designed to get people saying nice things about your images, because the person saying them wants nice things said about their photos. And lets face it your friends aren’t gonna really criticise your images on facebook for fear of upsetting you or coming across like a grumpy git.
We’ll although every bone in my body and my personality was telling me to be nice at the Brighton & Hove Camera Club, I decided that someone had to stand up and be the grumpy git and that’s just what I did.
I wasn’t purposely nasty, I praised the good photography that was submitted, I told people when I liked a photo and when I didn’t. I tried to explain what I thought worked or didn’t work with the images and gave them marks accordingly. Out of the 45 images, I awarded one Gold, seven Silvers and over half of the photos only got a Credit. Apparently I was told afterwards that this was one of the lowest scoring competitions ever with most images getting a Gold or Silver usually.
I had to say that I really enjoyed the experience and I had hoped that some of the members would come away with a positive experience from my negativity. I thought it would be useful for people to hear that they need to be pushed more; they need to think more about why they are taking a photo and what they are trying to say with the image. I thought that people might get an overall impression of what I look for in a good image.
Now I know that I have received some positive feedback regarding my comments, but I also know that there was a lot of criticism of my judging (I was called the worst judge someone had seen at a camera club in over 10 years and someone else wanted to give up photography altogether). There was a big discussion on the Brighton & Hove Camera Clubs facebook page about the night and also one of the organisers told me that ‘they weren’t used to that much negative comments and that a few noses had been put out of joint, but that it may do some people some good.’
And I think that’s the point. I may have upset a few people, but I hopefully have inspired some more people to think twice about why they take a photo. I’m not sure how much good it would have done if I’d have praised every photo and awarded 45 Gold marks. What benefit would that have for people? I’m glad that there has been a debate about this on facebook. Photography is very subjective, it was just my opinion on these images, but photography requires thought and the fact that people are thinking about it now, means in some ways I’ve done the job that I intended to do and that’s to make people take better pictures.
So next time you go to say nice things about a photo that you don’t really like, think twice as you may be doing more harm than good.
What’s your experience of this, have you had a photo judged? How did you react? Do you say nice things about photos even if you don’t mean it? Was I wrong to give my honest opinion? Let me know what you think, i’d love to hear.
I was very pleased to see that Pocket Wizard have just launched a brand new trigger for Off Camera Flash and studio lights the Plus X.
As you probably know I teach workshops in Off Camera Flash photography and I also use and recommend Pocket Wizard products as they just work. That’s all you need from a trigger, something that works all the time. I’ve used other triggers in the past and they haven’t been 100% reliable. I want to know that when I press my shutter, my flash is going to fire when I want it to.
There were a few minor design flaws in the triggers that I use, namely the plastic ariel that my old triggers (The Plus II) have, has a tendency to bend and deform. I like to look after my kit, so this does annoy me slightly. However Pocket Wizard addressed this with their new Plus III’s that they brought out the other year, by having the arial as part of the housing.
On my workshops I go though all of my equipment for people as I’ve tried most things on the market and I’ve found what works and more importantly what doesn’t work, so if I can save people time and money then i’m more than happy to. So in looking at triggers, I know that recommending Pocket Wizards is the right thing to do as they are so reliable and they will also last you years and years. However the only downside of them has always been the price, they are very expensive. BUT NOT ANY MORE.
Yes thats right, Pocket Wizard have just release the Plus X. Which is a simplifyed version of their Plus III’s and has a price tag of under $100. Thats a massive saving. Don’t worry about them being a more basic version as they do everything that you will need them to. In fact the last Pocket Wizard product that I purchased I had to use the firmware (yes it was that complicated it had firmware) to make it a simple trigger as I didn’t need all the bells and whistles that came with it. All I needed it to do what fire the flash when I pressed the shutter and thats exactally what the new Plus X does. If I hadn’t already invested in this system i’d be looking to buy these on the first day that they came out and thats just what i’ll be recommending to people on my workshops.
So it’s guest post time on my blog today. This time it’s a lovely post by the wonderful Emma Lucy, who came on my Off-Camera Flash Photography workshop in Brighton the other week and very kindly wrote a blog post on here experience.
Here is her post:
The joy of photography is you never stop learning. You can always learn something from another photographer, whether it they way they do business or how they approach their photography.
I am predominantly a natural light photographer. I do have some studio lights but because most of my work is on location then using them isn’t really practical unless I hire a big heavy battery pack. So I’ve been wanting to learn some off camera flash for a while.
I’ve been a follower of Adam’s work for a while and first met him last year at an industry event. Our paths crossed again at the awesome Photography Farm Week last month and I tagged along to his light painting workshop. Adam is a natural teacher and is so full of enthusiasm with what he does.
So I knew I wanted to learn more about off camera flash, having only experimented with it a bit and ‘blagging it’! So I booked onto Adam’s Brighton workshop.
I turned up to find a small group of photographers (perfect to get a good amount of one on one teaching as well as group), some of who I knew from various means. Adam worked through the very basics – from getting comfortable with your speedlite to more advanced – working with light modifiers and how distance and other factors affect light. Everything is in layman’s terms but if you do want to explore the more technical side of it Adam actively encourages you to ask questions and explains everything is an easily digestible way.
I came away from the course (a few gin and tonics down with a few of the other guys there) feeling inspired and confident with what I’m doing. I even plucked up the courage to do a self portrait when I got home. I also embrace any chance to meet other photographers – I find other photographers so enlightening.
If you’re thinking of doing this course, get on it! I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s all very well being a natural light photographer but there is always going to be instance where you will need to whip out your flash and your triggers.
On that note, if you’re wondering what I use to trigger my flashes, I have some Yongnuo RF-602 that you can buy from eBay. Inexpensive and does the job nicely!
Here’s some rather ropey shots from the day! I do believe Adam has another workshop taking place in March in Brighton and another in Bath soon.
I’m so sorry Adam, I had to blog this next shot! Adam teaching us distance…. Sarah Morris and James Gifford Mead practicing! My trusty model Ben And a quick portrait of Ben and my selfie *cringe* (the temperatures don’t really work side by side but for illustrative purposes only, you understand!)
You know by now that I like taking photos of people.
There is something that really interests me about capturing someones personality and taking a photo that really represents them.
Well I was commissioned to take some portraits of top recruitment trainier Roy Ripper for use on his new website that is currently being designed by Brighton Graphic Design agency Very Own Studio. After having a quick hot chocolate with Roy and getting to know him a bit we hatched a plan for some environmental portraits in different locations as well as a studio style shoot afterwards, as Roy had a few different needs for the images. I’m really pleased with the final images and although the ones i’m showing you here are not the final images selected by Roy and Very Own Studio, I feel that they get more of Roy’s personality across and that’s just the kind of portrait’s that I love.
If you’re interested in me taking some portraits of you or your company, don’t forget that i’m currently doing a special offer offer of HALF PRICE HEAD SHOTS.