I am a BIG advocate of using external hard drives to store your images and data. This is of course in addition to other back-up sources. Things such as DVD’s, extra external hard drives and additional computers.
External Hard Drives
Recently I went out and bought another external hard drive. Picked up a Lacie to transfer all my nature pictures to. That way I would have them in one place and be able to take it with me when I am on the road without taking other files. Spent a Saturday night and part of Sunday transferring and organizing the new drive. I have several other Lacie drives as back-ups and have had no problems to date. Then I took the to the studio to download the files there.
I plugged the drive into one of the studio computers and watched as it said “New Drive Detected”, “Installing Hardware”, “New Device is now ready to use”. Then I clicked on My Computer to find that the device is not there. Tried a second computer then a third, all with the same results.
That not good
I was finally able to locate the drive through a couple of backdoor routes and found that the drive was running. But after a lot of research I found that even with the computer recognizing the drive it was not accessible. After looking into it I found out that it is the way the drive was set-up from the factory.
So a word of warning, if you have an external drive that you are using make sure that it is readable on other computers! You should do this ASAP!!! I would actually try several computers to make sure if your computer should die, or be upgraded, that the external drive is accessible.
Check your drives NOW!!!
Again as a word of warning, if you have an external drive check it on another computer ASAP to make sure that it can be read, before you need the drive to work and it doesn’t. This is one of those issues that if you find out when you have a computer problem it is too late!!!
People have been asking me how to improve their photography business, simple it comes down to the print! The past couple of weeks I have had a chance to sit down with a number of photographers. I have been hearing a lot of the same things from these people and I thought that it would be worth sharing with others. The main issue is how do you impress your customers, set your business apart from others and improve your sales?
Several points keep coming to the forefront
1) For those that do shoot & burn weddings (shoot the wedding and burn the digital files to disk or USB for the client) I have been hearing a number of photographers mention that their customers are complaining about bad prints. Their clients are taking the images to a discount lab to get prints made. When they get the prints back they are coming back horrible. Most times the photographer does not know how their client feels as they don’t hear about the bad prints. The clients think it is the photographer ~ because the lab says it is not them. If the photographer hears it is through a third party and the bad printing has damaged the photographers reputation.
2) Many photographers have seen a drop in the number of assignments they get. A couple photographers actually inquired of past customers and received some feedback. One of the biggest points is that clients were not happy with the final prints. Many clients mentioned that it was a pain to go and get the prints done themselves. All had mentioned they were having prints done at a discount lab.
The common statement went something like this…….
“…. the photographers service was great”. “We were not happy with the way the final prints looked”. “The prints looked like the ones that you get from a one hour lab ~ not professional prints”. “It took me a week to get a couple pictures done properly. It was a HUGE waste of my time”. One photographer actually brought me a couple of files to print. Their customers had them done someplace else. They wanted to see what their client thought. The response from their client was “These are amazing, we never thought that the printing would do that!!!!”
3) Many of the photographers also mentioned that they needed something to add a WOW factor to the services that they were offering. They have been giving clients 4×6 & 5×7 prints. The small prints were not impressing their clients.
In just about all the comments one thing was clear. The photographer’s clients want/demand something more than a cheap 4×6 or 5×7 one hour print. I have been saying for years that if photographers want to survive that they need to set themselves apart. Something more than what uncle Bob is doing ~ usually for free because he is a relative and wants to be helpful. Uncle Bob can have the nice camera. Many times he is handing the wedding couple a disk and that is it. Or he is printing some prints at the one hour place and handing them to the couple. The problem is if that is what the “professional” photographer is doing we are not setting ourselves apart and WOW’ing our clients.
So what should professional photographers be doing?
First, every client should be getting a WOW picture. Something that stands out like a 16×20 or 20×24 portrait fully finished!! Second you should be providing your clients with some professionally printed images that they can show friend’s and family so they can see what a great picture looks like. Prints that they cannot get at the local one hour!
Finally if you are handing over the disk to the client make sure they know the difference in the printing that they will get.
Remember we need to set ourselves apart for the positive. One of the best ways to do this is with professional printing!
To help with giving some wow to your photography we are offering a coupon for a discount in printing that you can give to your client to get professional printing. That way they will get the best image possible from your files. Drop us an E-mail and we will run off some discount coupons for you!
I am always amazed at how many people are shocked to know they can take a course on photography. Years ago the only place that you could get a course was at a university or a college. I was the first private teacher in southern Alberta. A couple of my students said that I was the only one they knew about in western Canada. It seems strange looking at the teachers of today, everyone is a teacher. If a photographer has shot a couple images they will offer to teach. When I started I was so nervous as I did not know what I would teach. Back then I taught how to shoot film and two hours was a lot of time. Now two hours can barely touch even a simple digital camera.
Another thing that I am asked by a lot of people is “How archival are digital camera cards”? People wonder if they should fill up a camera card then store it and buy a new one. I was not sure so I contacted Sandisk and asked this question and the response is below.
How archival are your digital camera cards?
Hello Mike, Thank you for contacting SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product. Let me assist you with your concern. The files/pictures can retain on the card for 10 years, without using the card again, meaning just for storing the card. If you are continuously using the card, like adding more and more pictures (when taking using the camera), please understand that there is no guarantee that those pictures will never going to be corrupted. Data corruptions on the card can happen any time on all storage device, (Cards, Flash drives, MP3 player, and including the Hard Disk drive). Should you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to reply to this message. Best regards, SanDisk Technical Support
So I would say that it is still the best practice to get the images off the cards. Shot, download then back-up and reformat the card. If you do want to keep the image on the cards I would still download and back-up. Then store the cards in a safe place like a safety deposit box or at a friends house.
Camera Cards Archival?
The biggest issue with digital media, unlike film, is that it does not fade. It just corrupts! So if you take a card out in ten years and it is damaged that is it.
Be Safe…. PRINT!
I still say that the best way in addition to backing up your images is to print them. When they are printed you are not relying on technology to keep your images viable. I scan more prints than I do negatives or slides as people can find their prints. It is not perfect but it is better to have something to look back on even if it is fading a little.
I am often asked what is the best way to adjust images in Photoshop? So I thought it deserved a post on the blog to help you get the best images when editing.
Question: How do you do color and density corrections in Photoshop?
Answer: I use adjustment layers whenever possible. Why? If you use adjustment layers then save the file as a PSD you can go back and see what you have done. You can make small adjustments from the last place that you adjusted without starting over. And finally if you get one image looking great and you have a number of others that need the same adjusting then you can drag the adjustment layer to other images.
I have been asked to add to my list of Lethbridge photo locations. This list is for privately owned locations that you may not know of. These listings tend to change regularly. If you know of a place I missed or a place that does not allow pictures any longer drop me a note. I will also add locations just outside of town as I find them so guess this list is not just Lethbridge photo locations.
Many of the owners that I talked to have the same information to pass along. They allow pictures but their business is not just for pictures so they may not be available at all times. The further in advance that you call the better.
As these are private places some will allow nude shoots but ask first. Also some mention that they prefer to have smaller groups. If you are using for a wedding having the day spread out so there are not 50 people hanging around is better. Some also state that you can rent the entire place for private functions but the prices are more than just to use a part of the location.