Ben's Guide to Losing All Your Photos

I’ve been riding that fine line of potentially losing my entire portfolio for 3 whole years now. Not good.

So yesterday I got real with myself about my shortcomings and posted a story to my Instagram page asking photographers what they use for cloud storage and why. I thought there were only a couple valid options, but turns out there are several - each one of them caught lacking in their own special way. Let me explain:

I assumed that cloud storage was the fancy new way for photographers to secure their images and save cash in 2019. As it turns out, like usual, I was dead wrong. Everything considered, at the end of the day you pay the same amount of money for cloud-storage, if not more, and then run into three key issues: accessibility, security, expenditure, and content isolation. Ok, four key issues.

PART ONE: PROBLEM

Accessibility

Without quick access to your photos, what’s the point? Right - there isn’t one. There are two main problems with cloud storage as it pertains to access. 1) First of all, even among the most expensive cloud storage platforms, you run into the issue of having to download the RAW files to a computer before you can edit them or send them to a client. 2) Secondly, among the cheaper cloud storage platforms, or “cloud backup” platforms, it is quite common to lose access entirely and spend weeks in retrieval. See some examples of this by clicking on the words “caught lacking” in my first paragraph.

Security

In the words of my buddy Joey, the internet is the internet, and if you have the right link, you’re in. Of course you can pay for higher security measures and encryption, but all that costs money. For example, your banking operates online, but you and everyone else you know pays the bank enough money to have a huge budget for data encryption - in fact their entire business model relies on it. The same isn’t true with mass data storage, so to get the security and peace of mind that myself and other professionals require, you have to spend just as much money as you would on physical hard drives. See next section for what I mean.

Expenditure

Let’s run the numbers. Dropbox Business Advanced is $99/month. That works out to a yearly spend of just under $1,200 per year. That’s a number I want you to remember. Obviously the amount of data used per year differs from photographer to photographer, but for the purposes of this blog we can use me as the test dummy. These are the statistics of my RAW image creation as a lifestyle photographer:

  1. Photos taken in entire career: 475,339

  2. Video clips taken in entire career: 8,258

  3. Data stored in photos: 13.5TB

  4. Data stored in videos: 2.75TB

  5. Total data stored: 16.25TB (and growing)

  6. 2016: 65,004 photos taken, 1.7TB used

  7. 2017: 67,958 photos taken, 1.8TB used

  8. 2018: 262,641 photos + 5,225 video clips, 8.7TB used (after going full-time late 2017)

  9. 2019 (Jan 1-Mar 5): 79,736 photos + 3,033 video clips, 4.04TB used (on track for a 12TB year)

What this information shows me is that I could back up the large majority of my current hard drives by the purchase of one RAID that costs far less than $1,200, and bypass the cloud storage issue entirely.

You’re probably thinking that I could set myself up long-term by biting the bullet and giving into cloud storage, and in a sense you would be right. The 12 days transfer time would be well worth it, you would say.

calculation courtesy of  this website

calculation courtesy of this website

But the only problem is, I live in Canada, and way up here in the frigid snowy north, our cabins and igloos are rationed out to an embarassing 1TB/month of wifi. All of the sudden, my upload would take 16 months, not 12 days. And this does not include the time it would take to remove it all, and re-upload to a different cloud storage platform if my workflow ever required a change in service. If my business scales, which it is already doing, I would need to upgrade services, but it would be near impossible to do so - and that is our next issue, the issue of content isolation.

Content Isolation

Pretty much, once it’s up, it’s up. If you want to change services, even with my measly 16.25TB total storage requirements, it would take a minimum of two weeks (over an unlimited wifi plan, which is very expensive in Canada ($300-500/mo)) to switch platforms. Factoring in for portfolio growth, this could be 4 weeks within a year, and 6 weeks inside of two years. Incase you don’t know what this implies, it means a whole computer dedicated to a transfer task for 2-6 weeks straight.

PART TWO: SOLUTION

I’ve talked to several high-profile working professionals - those people who have performed the ultimate in trial-by-fire, and they told me what I should do. So I made this very intricate diagram explaining the process:

@tommy.stokes  sorry for using your house to hypothetically store my RAWs

@tommy.stokes sorry for using your house to hypothetically store my RAWs

The plan is this: 1) working hard-drive on the desk, 2) backup RAID on the shelf, 3) backup HDD’s in Tommy’s garage, and 4) a portfolio of my best images on Google Drive to pull from at will for clients, IG, or updating the website.

I’ve decided to go this route based on the advice of RJ Bruni, Callum Snape, Renee Hahnel and Daniel Ernst. Each has a system that in some effect operates like the above diagram. All three of these people are long-time professionals in the industry, at the highest levels, and as such I feel completely safe basing my workflow off of theirs.

I hope this helps make your decision. But PLEASE, do your own research.

Thank you so much to everyone who replied to my Instagram story, and last night’s post educating me on the subject. Each one of you helped me arrive at a solution that is perfect for my current application, and even more importantly, you guys helped me tee myself up to be successful long-term with my data management.

As my business continues to grow and we do more video work, my storage needs will begin to change very quickly and I may have to adopt a strategy like that of Joel Schat and his video production team. More on that at a later date.

Thanks for reading!

© 2019 Ben Prescott - @itsbigben

Starting the Year Off Right!

What's up guys! Welcome to my first blog post ever!
 
I've decided to start this blog to keep you updated with what I'm up to these days. This will also be a great place for me to showcase behind-the-scenes content that I wouldn't normally get to share on my Instagram page.

Thanks to everyone that has continued to follow my journey so far! I can't wait to show you some of the new things I've been working on!

LIFE UPDATE
2018 is going to be like no other year. At this point I've been a photographer for just over 2 years now and have more ideas to share and places to go than ever before. This year I’m planning on travelling to some sweet destinations and also working on some new projects; One of them being, the launch of my new YouTube channel in the coming months!

ALBERTA TRIP - JANUARY 2018
I thought about different ways to start this year on a high note, and couldn't think of a better way to kickstart 2018, than by taking a road-trip to the Albertan Rockies with my good friends Jon, Josh and Steven. One of the craziest parts about this trip was that it was only confirmed the night before, causing us to scramble to get our gear and agenda in order, since we weren’t sure where we were going or what we required!

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For the most part, we did have a rough idea of locations and the gear/clothing we required, but by no means were we prepared for what we walked into. As it turns out, the week we embarked on this journey was actually the coldest week of the entire Winter. On our way there, we got stuck in the craziest blizzard delaying our arrival time by a few hours to our first destination. We spent nearly 3 full hours going 30km/h not being able to see much more than 10 feet in front of us. Here’s a clip of what we experienced.

The coldest part of our trip was experiencing -38° before windchill, while hiking the Athabasca Glacier with a really strong wind. We tried our best to get to the Glacier, but ended up having to turn back because the weather was just too harsh. The next day we stopped by the frozen Maligne Canyon. I have been here plenty of times in Summer but seeing it in Winter and being able to walk onto of the frozen river was something special. This was one of our favourite locations as you’ll probably see on most of our feeds.

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On our last day before heading home, we stopped by Two Jack Lake for sunrise.

Even though it was cold and at times we couldn’t feel our toes, this trip was totally worth it! We got to take some of the best photos we've ever taken and had the priceless opportunity to become better friends through the process of overcoming the conditions we were dealing with. Here’s some more BTS shots from the trip!

And that's trip number 1 of 2018! Huge shout-out to my buddies for coming on this trip with me as well as all you amazing people for following my journey throughout the last couple years. We’ve got lots of adventures coming up, a few international trips in the works, and who knows what else! I've also never been more excited to get filmmaking more than I am now, so expect some YouTube videos soon!

Feel free to check out my buddies on Instagram below too!

Josh Tryhane | @joshtryhane

Steven Parker | @stevenofnorth

Jon Saldanha | @jonsaldanha

© 2018 Ben Prescott | @itsbigben