As a young photographer I always stressed that I would never be a wedding photographer. It seemed far too stressful. However, little did I know that the second I started second shooting and assisting others on weddings that I would fall deeply in love with capturing one of the biggest days of a couples lives, as well as getting to retell their love story with my images. I found that weddings were truly my passion and calling.
However, as much as I still love and obsess over being apart of couples days, having a career where I rely solely on the technology can at times be stress overload. Computers freeze, apps unexpectedly shut down, emails get filed into spam when they clearly aren’t. The list goes on and on. With all of that said, my biggest fear of all is corrupt memory cards. And this past weekend... it happened... Well, kind of.
So imagine this, you show up to your dream brides day and photograph all the pretty details, the first look and all the fun bridal party shots with a group of 18 that’s a load of fun and full of laughs. Then suddenly I look down to my camera on the left (I shoot with dual bodies using a Holdfast moneymaker), the same one which I just used to shoot ALL of the bridal party and majority of the details, and there is a HUGE RED error message saying Card 2 cannot be read and is possibly corrupt. Honestly I am not sure on exactly what the error said because as soon as I saw the words “error” and “card 2” my heart sunk and then panic set in.
I am not sharing this as a story of horror or a story of defeat, but instead as a working lesson and one that speaks to the responsibility we have as wedding photographers to always be prepared for anything a wedding day throws our way.
As a wedding photographer we have a duty to make sure that we give our couples 100% during the entire allotted time we are there. This is one of the most important days of their lives and so we have to treat it as such and truly prepare for the worst while praying for the best. I immediately popped out the battery of the camera and instantly changed both cards inside the camera to new freshly (as in the night before) formatted cards.
So here is what I learned and wanted to make sure I point out as points for new and fresh wedding photographers…
DO NOT SHOW YOUR PANIC/STRESS OR FEAR
On a bride's wedding day the last thing you would want to do is upset her! Although this situation was terrifying to me, I did not want to have to work the bride until I absolutely had to. I mean yes, I'm now writing this publicly for the whole world to see, but this was after the panic and realizing that it was all for nothing.
ALWAYS HAVE EXTRA PRE-FORMATTED CARDS
One thing I always do before a wedding, whether it be the day before or the morning of, is I go through and format all my cards that I am going to need for the day. This helps to prevent any "accidents." The last thing you want to worry about is popping what you think to be a new card in and accidentally formatting a card you actually used earlier that day for wedding portraits! And eek that hadn't even been uploaded yet.
This is why I always clear and format my cards prior to ANY shooting on a wedding day. I also format WAY too many. But this is the best thing possible. This means I have extra cards (both CF & SD) for if something goes wrong, I overshoot or just any good reason. It is never a bad thing to be over prepared ;)
SHOOT TO DUAL CARDS INSIDE THE CAMERA
This is a no brainer. As wedding photographer, it obviously isn't required, but it's super helpful to shoot to dual card slots inside the camera. This way each image you shoot is simultaneously being backed up to another card while inside the camera. This helps, for me at least, ease anxiety and protect your clients images! You never know what could happen to a card, it could be dropped, stepped on, a prong could bend and make it not readable. Again, the list goes on. But this way, by shooting to two cards, you ensure that if in fact something does happen to one of the cards then you have another card with the EXACT SAME images on them from the exact same moments. And then nothing is lost!
BRING YOUR LAPTOP
This was so important to me on Saturday, and I didn’t realize just how important until I needed a calming sign. Because I had my laptop with me I was able to pop Card 2, the previous card that gave me the error warning, into the computer to see if it was readable and if the images were in tact. If the images were not readable and/or corrupt I would have known during that time (before the wedding was over) and would have been able to pull the couple and bridal party from cocktail hour to reshoot all the missed images just in case I wouldn’t have been able to recover the images. Then if I was able to recover the images later that night the couple would just have extra images of them and the bridal party, which would just be a bonus!
BACK-UP YOUR IMAGES/BRING BACKUP GEAR
Again, this is kind of a no brainer. If anything was to have been wrong with the camera I was using when I got that error, I then have a second and even third body to continue shooting the couples wedding day. This is also good to think about for flashes, memory cards (again), and lenses! Make sure to always have enough! And if this seems scary or financially impossible. Remember that renting, leasing or making payments are always options as well!
Once the wedding is said and done, you still have editing. I make sure that all my clients wedding images are backed up in at least two, but usually three, places! I want to make sure each and every one of my clients recieves the wedding images they deserve. This means giving 100% on the day of the wedding, but also taking all precautions after the wedding! You can never be too safe!
USE CARDS THAT COME WITH RECOVERY SOFTWARE
This was taught to me very early on when showing interest in becoming a wedding photographer. Like I said before, technology is not always the most reliable of factors, so always be sure to do everything in your power to prevent the loss of someone's images! Because of this I only shoot with SanDisk & Lexar cards since they are known to come with recovery software that is reliable and majority of the time can save your images on a corrupt card or a card with any kind of issues!