We all know that with digital photography losing images is a possibility. The images are more fragile than film because they are subject to accidental deletion, reformatting, and file corruption.
At Abbey Creative Photography, we offer a service called "Digital Events," where we take digital photos onsite and offer prints, in real time, to the guests. With multiple memory cards being inserted and removed from the cameras, something is bound to go wrong. Fortunately, in most instances, deleted or corrupted files still exist in memory, the way they do on a PC.
To help prevent a disaster at our Digital Events, I always have ImageRecall software loaded on the laptops we bring with us. It recovers images quickly and is very easy to use, so even photographers who aren't that computer savvy can make it work.
A few months ago, the software saved the day at an event we covered for the October Women's Foundation Benefit for Breast Cancer. More than 1,000 guests had paid for a chance to get their photographs taken with their favorite cast member of TV's "The Sopranos." We had people hunting us down looking for their pictures with Tony. To make sure the event ran smoothly, we took many precautions. Although six Nikon cameras were available at the shoot, our photographers tried to use just one or two at a time to prevent confusion. They used Lexar CompactFlash cards with low capacity to ensure that images were downloaded frequently, limiting the number of images lost if something were to happen to the card. We also kept each camera's memory cards separate to avoid problems that can occur when cards are reformatted by more than one kind of camera.
When cards were full they were downloaded into our Sony Vaio laptops. We didn't edit or delete images until they were safely stored in the laptops. After the best photos were selected and edited, they were saved directly to CD-ROM. Then using Mitsubishi's dye-sublimation printers, we printed out high-resolution 5x7s (on the CP9500DW) and 8x10s (on the CP3020D) for the Foundation's guests.
Even with all our safeguards in place, some pictures were lost, through human error. We accidentally formatted over some images on a CF card before they were printed out, and, naturally, we had a guest who wanted them. (Note: the contact sheet above shows all the images that were lost and eventually recovered.)
Using the ImageRecall software on their laptops, they performed a recovery on the reformatted card. It's an easy, automated, three-step process that works for all camera RAW and standard image formats by searching the entire internal data structure to find lost images. The images were immediately recovered and saved to the laptop and the happy guest went home with his photo of the Sopranos.
Yet another example of why planning and multiple layers of protection are golden keys to success for event photography.
Neal Clipper (www.abbeyphotographers.com), Abbey Creative Photography, of Palisades, New Jersey, is the second generation to own and operate the studio. For 20 years, he has photographed weddings, bar mitzvahs, and covered special events for commercial clients.
Quick Tips for Avoiding Lost Digital Photos
Here are some tips from FlashFixers/ImageRecall 3 to help you avoid losing your digital photos . . .
- Reformat the memory card in your camera each time after downloading and saving the pictures on your computer. Don't use the computer to format the card.
- Create a backup by saving your files from the memory card to your computer. You might also consider creating a second backup with a CD.
- Don't let a memory card get too full before downloading the pictures to your camera. Cards that become too full have been known to write over the card headers.
- Charge your batteries sufficiently before taking pictures. Keep a set of fully charged spare batteries handy just in case.
- Do not remove the card from the camera too quickly while the camera is still saving data to it. Wait a few moments until you're sure the picture is completely written to the card.
- Wait a few seconds before shutting the camera for the picture to be written to the memory card. With the power off, the camera may stop writing to the card causing a file corruption.
- Don't shoot pictures too closely together, exceeding the manufacturer's recommended interval. The camera will not be able to finish writing one picture before starting the next.
- Avoid large static charges, and be extra careful when handling cards in dry, low-humidity areas.
- Keep cards away from strong magnetic sources and extreme heat and cold. Walk-through airport X-rays and scanners are safe, but be careful of the stronger X-ray equipment used to examine checked baggage.
- Don't remove a media storage card from a card reader too quickly. Wait until it has finished communicating with the hard drive and all files on that card are closed.
- Edit and delete pictures on the memory card with your computer, not with the camera. Too many file edits and picture deletes in the camera have been known to cause card problems.
- If a memory card problem occurs, stop using the card immediately. Do not reformat the card or delete pictures. Use an image recovery program or send the card to an image recovery lab to retrieve the files.
- Be careful with your camera's Delete All and Card Format options. These operations may be irreversible.
- Don't let anyone unfamiliar with your camera navigate the menus.
FlashFixers (www.flashfixers.com) sells and supports ImageRecall in North America and provides image and data recovery services as a full service recovery lab.