Don't Panic, Just Back Up Your Wedding Photos
As a professional wedding photographer, preparation is one of the most fundamental stages. Being prepared for any situation will "get you out of dodge" most times. Similarly, remembering to back up your wedding photos is just as important!
Not since the days of film where the lab once lost one of our films (temporarily) have I had such a panic during a live wedding.
I arrived, as usual, 1 hour early. Carrying 3 camera bodies, 5 lenses, 6 Compact Flash cards, a backup hard drive, 2 speedlights and a tripod. In my bag was tons of spare batteries for everything and a schedule of what I was to do at this wedding.
About half way through the shoot I realised that the new Canon 5D was eating up a lot more memory with RAW due to file sizes of up to 16MB. I was already running out of card space half way through the day.
No problem, I had 40GB of hard drive with my trusty Flashtrax with which to backup some shots. So during the group shots by the pool, I loaded a 2GB CF card and started to back it up. I then placed it in my jacket pocket without a zip...
Splish-splash I nearly took a bath!
As I bent down to get a better angle of the couple, the Flashtrax fell out of my pocket. It landed onto the concrete surrounding the swimming pool with a nasty sounding "crack". Luckily it never went in the water.
What did happen however, was that it stopped working properly so now I had nowhere to back up my shots. During extremely short intervals between group shots, I tried desperately in vain to get it working to no avail. The main ceremony and signing was about to begin.
I had practically no space left other than 2 x 512MB cards and a bit of space on some others. Nowhere near enough to carry on.
By now I was sweating a bit and trying to think what to do and say to the couple. I was about 60Km deep into the Spanish countryside and the chances of a local store selling anything other than Tapas and foul smelling cigars was extremely unlikely let alone Compact Flash cards.
Only one thing for it, I had to switch from RAW to large/fine JPEGs. I hate shooting anything other than RAW at a wedding but luckily, after a quick check of the cards, I had well over 200 shots left.
By the end of the reception and the day I looked at the remaining shots...23...PHEW, made it!
Low light wedding photography
My experience of shooting weddings on JPEGs in the past isn't great especially at high ISO's of 500 and above. In dark situations, the results have been quite disappointing and I wasn't looking forward to processing the shots.
At this point I have to take my hat off to Canon and the beautiful new 5D. The images are spot on and not a bit of noise in sight (mostly)...absolutely brilliant.
Update 2021: Having bought and used the Panasonic S1H for a while, especially at high ISO's, I am in low light heaven. The Dual Native ISO introduced by Panasonic is incredible! Check out my full review of this amazing camera below.
My lesson here is simple. Never to rely on hard drives but instead to carry many smaller Compact Flash cards. Therefore, I am minimising the chances of losing the bulk of my shots if I were to lose or damage a 4-8GB CF card for instance.
Even worse, what if I had backed up all of the cards onto the hard drive and then dropped the Flashtrax in the drink? Everything gone? No way José! For me, I will in the future, stick to carrying plenty (10+) 1 and 2 GB CF cards.
A pocket full of batteries and CF cards is the way to go. I recommend it to anyone thinking of shooting a wedding. Back up your wedding photos! Click image below for more details on the super cool Gnarbox!