Do You Always Want Your Photographs in Digital Format? Why You May Wish To Think Again!

Last week I was working at my desk in the studio and, as I often do, I had the tv on for some background noise.

An episode of “Rip Off Britain” was on, and the mention of people losing all their digital files stored in the cloud caught my attention so I started to actually listen to the piece.

The story itself was about a gentleman who stored all of his documents in One Drive, by Microsoft, and how one fine day he could no longer access any of them - Files, photographs, receipts, etc - All lost forever!

Microsoft, at the time of the program airing, had yet not been able to retrieve any of his documents or photos and I do not know how it all panned out, but I suspect not well.

The next day viewers were contacting the program with similar stories about other providers, and this time there were tales of lost documents and photographs stored in external hard drives and usbs. Unthinkable. All gone, for good.

I can tell you that this is nothing new and you may heard about it before, or even know someone to whom the same happened. But how would you feel if it happened to you?

I think about this scenario a great deal and as a professional I back up my work in various ways, though to be honest I still have a lot of printed documents such as model releases, contracts, etc, which are all in paper format. I know the risks and take nothing for granted because I know that currently all these ways of backing up work are fallible and until I have, at least, delivered them to my clients, the weight of responsibility is enormous and I take it very seriously.

So, here’s where I am going with this: Are you the sort of person who goes to a photographer for beautiful photos, wanting “Digital Only” and then simply put the disc or usb in a draw, never again to be seen? Or even back it up to a cloud storage provider and feel this is it - The files are safe?

Because I have a tendency to go off-topic, I will just make a few notes below of the thoughts I would encourage you to consider:

  • Do you remember when the use of floppy-discs was technology’s cutting edge and all the rage? - You may but if you do not, they were today’s equivalent of the usb storage and because technology moves at a neck-breaking speed, today you’d be hard pressed to be able to access those lovely images you had on these discs and simply put away in a drawer, somewhere. CONCLUSION: Having a USB only package for any kind of photography and thinking they are safe forever in that media is, possibly, a dangerous assumption. Before you know it, computers will no longer have USB slots - in the same way they no longer can read floppy-discs;

  • You backed up all the images to the cloud and they are safe? - As the beginning of my post demonstrates, we know this is not the case. They can be erased on line through no fault of your own and never be recovered. CONCLUSION: If you want to recover yourprecious memories, you will probably have to pay the photographer to replace the images and depending on how long ago they were taken, the photographer may no longer have them;

  • You backed up in the cloud and external hard drives = Safe? - Sure, that’s sensible and you have two back ups, like most photographers to be honest. But here’s the thing: External hard drives last between 5 to 10 years and the cloud, as we have learned, is not beyong fail. CONCLUSION: You will need to be mindful of the lifetime of your external hard drives.

So I hear you ask: What am I supposed to do if nowehere is safe?

First of all, do not panic. These are only possibilities of which you need to be aware and my intention is not to scaremonger but to inform!

You may well have your images in digital format for generations to come and be ok, though with the advancement of technology you will probably need to keep moving files forever (if they are still viable after 10 years), but…

The answer to ensure you are truly covered, and your memories are safe and accessible, is as old as photography itself - PRINT!

Print is king and I still have beautiful quality images of my own childhood, because my mother insisted they were professionally produced and printed.

Of course, even if the images are printed there are no guarantees that the prints will never be damaged, but they will stand the test of time if properly looked after, and here is where the difference lies:

Caring for digital has nothing to do with simply properly storing it. They can degrade and become inaccessible even if you do everything right!

I find that many clients are reluctant to have prints as they tell me one of those two things:

  • I have no space to display so many images

  • I do not like to have that many images on my walls

In truth neither of these reasons should really present a problem!

I am happy to offer products which act as both storage and print, in one beautiful solution, such as the Walnut Prints’ Box or I also suggest a professionally printed album! Wall Art is also a fabulous solution and works well for one or two statement pieces.

I am always happy to discuss with my clients which products may better suit their images and requirements.

Family photography is more than just “some pictures” - It’s an investment in your family’s history and heirloom. It’ s not cheap, but it is for generations to come.

There are many ways to cover all bases and ensure that you maximise your chances of preserving your beloved memories and I am not advocating the abandonnment of digital storage but, rather, am hoping to make you and my clients more informed about the possible pitfalls or relying too much on technology alone for the preservation of your images.


As someone who spends all of my time producing images of the people my clients love the most, nothing breaks my heart more than the thought that these images will simply be put in a USB and forever forgotten in a drawer, never to see the light of day or grace a wall, as they were meant to do.

So next time you are considering booking your Photo Session give some thought to having Prints, Wall Art or an Album instead of, or in addtion to, simply a USB!

I hope you found this post useful and if I can be of any further help, give me a call on 07824 312561 or send me a message via the contact form by clickingon the below button.

Andrea de Gabriel