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You’ve invested in your photography, you carefully plan the wedding, and then a beautiful day goes by in a whirl wind. You return from the honeymoon and wait eagerly for the photos to arrive, checking your email and mailbox more frequently than you’d like to admit. Then finally the message arrives, “Your Wedding Photos Are Ready!” You scroll through the photographs and feel giddy, you show your mom and she loves them, you post your favorites on Facebook, and then… you save the files to a place on the computer where you’ll definitely remember them, and you’ll back them up later when you get the chance…

Sadly, for some people the process ends with just one digital copy of their wedding photos, leaving those memories vulnerable. Drives fail, computers break, technology becomes obsolete, and you need to have a plan for how to avoid losing your photos in the course of these changes. Fortunately it’s pretty simple, affordable, and it just takes a little extra effort to follow the plan. Here are my tips for how to best preserve your wedding photographs:

1. Redundant Backups

It’s great to have a copy of all the wedding photos on your computer, but make sure that they are also stored on a second hard drive or USB drive in your home. Also send copies to a couple of family members to store in their homes so that you have backups off-site, including one location that is in a different region of the country if possible.

When saving backups to separate drives, make sure to save your jpeg files at the highest quality possible and put a physical label on the drive to help you remember which device contains the wedding photos. And if you already own a fire-proof safe for your important documents, why not stick the spare household drive there?

2. Trustworthy Backup in the Cloud

Facebook doesn’t count. But the good news is that there are tons of reliable cloud backup services these days! Dropbox is one great option that’s popular for storing all kinds of backups including photography. If you are an avid photographer or if you would like a way to save and display not just your wedding photos but all your family photos online, consider a basic account with Zenfolio or Smugmug. These services were created for professional photographers, but they offer affordable packages that can help anybody keep reliable backups in the cloud.

3. Keep up with Technology

Remember floppy disks? So do I. Somewhere my family still has a stack of them, full of files and photos that we now have no way to access. It’s been over a decade since we owned a computer capable of reading those floppy disks, so they just keep collecting dust.

These days wedding photographs are typically delivered on a USB stick or via digital download, and even burnable DVDs are already on their way out of fashion (*If you’re already married and those photos are all on DVDs, go back them up to a couple hard drives now. Yup, NOW). Who knows what’s next? Whenever you notice yourself starting to use a new medium for storing information regularly, make sure that you transfer all your professional photography onto that new kind of storage mechanism.

4. Prints & Albums

Not only is it wonderful and important to have prints and albums, but it’s a way to keep your photos safe. A good professional photographer will only use printing services and album companies with a high quality product that is made to last for generations. Some photographers include personal printing rights in their packages (I do), which means that you are free to make the physical copies on your own, too. If you go this route be sure to research the quality and longevity of the products that you purchase, as many consumer-level services are not as reliable.

Easy, right? It just takes a couple extra steps to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your beautiful photos are safe.

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