Neil Clipper runs Palisades, N.J.-based Abbey Creative Photography. For photo shoots at corporate functions, weddings and other live events, Abbey offers a service called "Digital Events." Neil takes digital photos and allows guests to get hardcopies of the pictures in real time.
At a recent event for the October Women's Foundation Benefit for Breast Cancer, more than 1,000 guests had a chance to get their photographs taken with their favorite "Sopranos" actors. "Everyone was very excited," notes Clipper. "We had people hunting us down looking for their pictures."
This is great fun for his customers but Neil admits it is also risky. Digital images are more fragile than film and can be lost because of accidental deletions, reformatting, camera misoperations or card errors. To make sure his "Digital Events" are successful, Neil takes precautions to prevent picture losses that upset customers.
Six cameras were available at the "Sopranos" shoot, but photographers tried to use only one or two cameras at a time to prevent confusion. The other cameras served as backups. Cameras used 20 small solid-state Compaq flashcards (64 to 256 megabytes that hold a maximum of 60 pictures). Only cards with small amounts of memory are used to insure that pictures are downloaded frequently. This limits the number of pictures lost if something happened to the card. Photographers also kept each camera's memory cards separate to avoid problems that occur when cards are reformatted by more than one kind of camera.
Pictures from full cards were loaded directly into PCMCIA slots in Sony Vaio laptops onsite. As another safeguard, photographers did not edit or delete photos on their cameras, but waited to make changes after they have been safely loaded onto the laptop. After the best pictures are selected and edited, they are saved directly to CD-ROM and picture quality images and are printed out onsite for guests using Mitsubishi Dye sublimation printers. High-resolution pictures up to 8x10 in size can be produced using these printers.
However, even with all of Neil's safeguards some pictures still get lost. "Human error is always a factor," said Clipper. "With many memory cards coming in and out of cameras, something was bound to go wrong. We accidentally formatted over some photos on a flash card at the 'Sopranos' event."
Fortunately, in most cases, deleted or corrupted files still exist in memory, much like they do on a regular PC. Neil brought ImageRecall digital photo recovery software to the shoot and was able to recover the lost pictures. The software supports all known camera RAW and standard image formats and works by searching the entire internal data structure of memory cards to find lost images. "Planning ahead is always the key to success for event photography," concludes Clipper.
Quick Tips For Avoiding Lost Digital Photos
- Save your pictures, and then format the card in your camera before using it.
- Avoid deleting and editing pictures in your camera. Move the pictures to your computer first.
- If you own more than one digital camera, keep the memory cards for each camera separate.
- Try not to let the memory card get too full before saving your pictures.
- If a problem occurs, stop using your card immediately and attempt to do a recovery.