Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photo Storage

As any good photographer knows, taking photos takes up a lot of space. On an average day, I can easily take a gig or two of pictures, and on an important day (weddings and the like) you can imagine that it would be closer to five or eight gigs. The trouble is that I only have a 500gb harddrive on my laptop and, as you might imagine, that is not going to last very long. In fact, I am surprised that it has lasted me this long considering that I have been at this for a good two years now. So what do you do when your photographs start taking over?

The most obvious answer would be to get an external. This would be the simplest solution, but certainly not the cheapest. I don't know about elsewhere, but in SA a good, big hard drive would cost somewhere in the range of a grand and a half. And then  you have the trouble of what if the thing gets stolen. Certainly not ideal, and a very real  possibility! In addition, hardware breaks and you do not want it breaking with your lifes work on it.

The next idea (in some minds) would be online storage. This works well because it negates the need for spending money on hardware and circumvents the whole theft issue. Of course, this can also cost a pretty penny and, if you are in SA, will take up a lot of time and a lot of bandwidth, which is a rare and valuable commodity - I work in the IT industry, I know. ;) I could spend days, weeks and months uploading all of my gigs worth of photos onto websites, but then I would be left with slow browsing or a big bill.

My answer to this solution was a lot simpler, but also a bit more hazardous (or so I found out today anyway). I rifled through my photos, picking out ones that I have edited and ones that I want to re-edit and, once I had gone through all of my photos from 2011 and 2012, extracting the precious gems as I went, I resized everything else. I found a decent resizer (Faststone works VERY well and very quickly) and I went through the folders in their entirety minimising them all to a decent but not great 1280 x 800 size. In so-doing, I managed to save 80gb so far, allowing for a whole lot of sessions that I wouldn't have managed otherwise. AND there is still more for me to do and more space to save.

But of course, this answer comes at a price as well. The price, in this case, being what happened this afternoon. I got a call from a friend. They wanted my photos for a publication. He had specifically recommended me, since I had taken photos for him before and had provided them with low res images to show examples of my work. They wanted high res images. So I came home at 5pm and started rifling through the edited pictures. Nothing. I found a good pile of high res watermarked versions, but those just wouldn't do. And, it turned out, the originals were too small to be of any use. There could be no re-editing and there could be no salvaging the situation. I ended up managing to crop out and clone out the watermarks in some of the images, but some are going to be lost.

So, it turns out that every plan comes with its advantages and disadvantages. If you have money and time to spend, there are ways to get it done, but for me... I at least have some space for more photos, and I  won't be making my mistake again any time soon!

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