File Management for photographers

We live in a time where everyone is a photographer. Owning a nice camera is the only criteria considered for being a professional photographer. Unfortunately most people don’t think about what happens before and after the shutter releases.

File Management

I’m not talking about the business side or even all the editing and retouching that takes up the majority of a photographers time. Today I’m just touching the surface on file management.

In the eight years I’ve been a professional photographer I’ve never once had a client ask me what I do to protect their images. I used to do weddings and even then nobody asked what should have been the most important question.

Do you know anyone who’s photographer lost their pictures? This happens way more than you think. A lot can go wrong in the time between having your pictures taken and getting them delivered to you. Hard drives crash, memory cards get deleted prematurely, memory cards go corrupt, camera bags get stolen before cards are downloaded, something spills or gets dropped damaging the memory card…I could go on and on. Imagine losing the pictures for something as important as your wedding before you even get to see them.


If you are a photographer that accepts money for your service then you better get your act together and make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your files. The best resource I know of is Jared Platt. His workshops are very detailed and informative. And once implemented his system is fool proof. I have peace of mind knowing I’ve got all the safeguards in place.


If you are looking to hire a photographer ASK them what they do to protect your images.

My process

As a professional photographer I will have 5 duplicate files of every picture taken within 24 hours of releasing the shutter.

Dual card reader

My camera has dual memory cards and records high resolution RAW files to both cards simultaneously when I take the picture. This gives me the first two duplicate files. When the memory cards are removed they are separated and stored in different locations.

file management

RAID 1 System

There are different types of raid systems. Some have different methods of splitting information across multiple drives. The raid 1 system I use creates a mirror copy of the files. As soon as I download my memory card to the external drive (which is part of my raid system) a duplicate copy is created. This gives me two more duplicate files for a total of four.

I DO NOT DELETE MY MEMORY CARD AT THIS POINT. I don’t delete a memory card until the digital files are archived and both the digitals and the prints have been delivered to the client.

backing up photos

The Cloud

The main external hard drive that is part of my raid system is linked to a cloud service. It will sync overnight and by the next morning I’ll have my fifth duplicate file.


I specialize in newborns and while it is possible for me to do a reshoot of a session (unlike wedding and birth photographers) it is very inconvenient and we have a short two-week window of opportunity. It’s also unprofessional and can kill a business.

These simple steps keep me from losing files before processed but it is also important to have a workflow for processing your digital files. You don’t want to lose any of your work along the way. Again, if you are a professional photographer please take the time to check out Jared Platt.

More Info

For my tips and more simplified version of managing your pictures check out my series on Digital Files.

Contact Me