Barbados Island Photography
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Back Up your pictures

My computer could not open one of my hard drives and I suspected that the drive may have crashed and there was a possibility that I could have lost all of the pictures on that drive.  At one time in my life, that would have given me a major panic attack but I knew that I had backups for most of the work on that drive and the rest was easy to redo.  

My number one rule

Well it may not be number one but it is up in the top. Never change your original.

Again I have a few rules that I go by so that I can always go back to my original.

  1. I have them twice so that if by mistake I mess up one, I have another
  2. Any files that I want to edit, I put into another folder and give it another name. one folder may be called – “smith family beach originals” – and the other may be – “smith family beach edited” . I will copy the pictures into the edited file before I start working on them.

You may have you own system but I suggest, strongly that you do not save over your originals.

Tag your pictures

  1. Another way to make pictures easy to find is to tag them. Again it takes a bit of time but if do it properly it is a great tool. I have looked at it in windows 7 but not the older versions.   When you look at a set of pictures in windows explorer, you will see some info at the bottom, one of the titles is “Tags”. If you highlight the pictures that you want to tag, you can put tag words into that section so that when you do a search, all of the pictures with the tag name that you have searched for will come up. Please remember that the more specific you can be the better, if all of you pictures have the tag word “scenery”, searching for scenery will just drive you a little crazy. Your tag words might be: scenery, flowers, orange, hill, Bathsheba.   If you are later looking for a particular flower picture that you took and you remember that the flower was orange, it will be easy to do a search for that and get only a few results that are specific. The more thought that you put into naming , the easier it is to find the picture later. (if by any chance the tags are not working for you, right click on the folder/click properties/customize/look for optimize this forder for: and change it to - pictures.)


System for storing pictures

1.       1. I put each event into a separate file and now I put the year as part of the file name.

2.       2. Think carefully of the name of the file that you are going to use when you will be looking for the particular set of pictures in the future.   The name does not have to be very short or be a sentence, it can be a string of words that are relevant. Eg.  Sarah baptism holetown church 2011.

3.       3. I do not always rename the pictures but if it makes finding them easier you can consider doing that.  Since my pictures are usually events once I look for the folder I will find my pictures together but if you take lots of pictures of many different things you may want to consider renaming them.

4.      4. I will rename pictures if I am doing similar events at multiple locations –eg.  I take polo pictures, we have 4 fields and there are multiple events and I might be asked for pictures that are from a particular field or from a particular match so I rename all the pictures. One of the picture names may look like this –  po-wh-10g-ma11-8709 for me this means that it is a polo picture, played on the Water Hall field, it was the 10 goal match and it was played in March of 2011 picture number 8709, so if anyone is looking for pictures that were played on the Water hall field, they are easy to find, like wise if someone is looking for pictures from the 10 goal match. The programme – flash renamer- is great for renaming files.

What is an external hard drive

If you are sure of what a hard drive is, donít read this paragraph.

Your computer comes with many parts, screen, key board, mouse, case and hard drive, among other things. The hard drive is where all of your information and programmes are stored, every thing that you put onto your computer goes onto your hard drive and everyone have a hard drive as part of their computer. You can have a hard drive that is not in your computer case, one that sits on your desk, (or in the case of people like my son, if it is not plugged into his computer it is in his pocket). You can have more than 1, I have eleven at the moment. These hard drives are plugged into your computer and can work the same way as your internal hard drive. Some are a little delicate and should not be carried around in your pocket.   They should be kept on your desk in a semi permanent place but other are made to move information around and are quite happy to be moved. (However, if you do move them do it when they are off and have had a chance to stop working or wind down). Just to repeat, an external hard drive works the exact same way as the one in your computer case except that it is plugged into your computer using one of the ports (the same way that your mouse, key board or USB stick or flash drive are plugged into your computer).

Setting up your computer so that you can find your pictures
The most important part of backing up your pictures is being able to find them when you need to.  I photograph mostly events and families, I do not do a lot of landscape or wildlife and the most significant thing that I have learned is that the more thought you put into naming and tagging your pictures, the easier it is to find them later on, it is time well spent.

So let’s go back to rules, systems and things that I have learned that possibly I did wrong the first time around.

When I first started, hard drives were very expensive and DVD’s were a cheaper way to go.  I now use multiple hard drives instead of DVD’s and I label them according to the event that I am taking pictures at.  I also keep the individual years together for example all of my 2011 pictures are together and all of my 2002 pictures are together.

When I first started I put my files into sections according to the type of event. Some examples would be;  Schools, weddings, families, sports, you get the idea. Later when I started using multiple hard drives, it started to get confusing and I found that filing according to the years that the pictures were taken worked better for me.

It is now up to you to decide what works better for you.

Systems for backing up your pictures using DVD’s

  1. When I came back to my office I copy the pictures from my computer to my hard drive
  2. I make a DVD from those original pictures
  3. I formatted my card with the camera ready to go again
  4. I have a picture record book that is supposed to be kept in the same place all the time.
  5. This book is ruled so that I have the DVD number in the left column and details of what is on the DVD in the right column with a separate line for each event if there is more than one event on the DVD
  6. The DVD are numbered in order starting with the number DVD 1.
  7. If you use an external hard drive instead of the DVD’s you eliminate the need for your record book.

Rules for backing up your pictures using DVD’s

Right now I am in the process of transferring my pictures from my DVD’s to my hard drives so backing up and picture storage is on my mind.

I’ll start at the beginning:

When I first started I always had the plan to have my pictures in two places at all times, so I set up a set of rules and systems that worked for me.


  1. Never clear my compact flash card until I had the pictures backed up on a hard drive and on a DVD
  2. Never delete them from the hard drive until I had them on another dvd as well
  3. Back up the edited pictures on a different DVD than the originals.
  4. The same thing can apply if you substitute the DVD with an external or different hard drive.

More Photo stuff or Photo tips and ideas