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Storage Solution for Photographers and Videographers.

This is perhaps one of the most boring but also most important aspects of running a photography business… Storage, file management, and  failsafe redundancy. It’s one of those things that you generally don’t fully consider when starting your photography and videography business – at least not the full scope of it. This is also something that clients don’t ask about when it should in fact be in the top five questions asked when choosing a photographer and/or videographer.

Let’s talk about why this subject needs to be asked about and figured out. 

This is primarily for wedding photographers and videographers… However, it should be considered for every aspect of photography and videography. You always hear that if something goes wrong on a family shoot, or senior shoot, that you can simply just re-shoot it. This is absolutely true, yes, should anything happen to your files you can simply re-shoot the family session or drag the senior back out there… Whereas with a wedding, if you lose that photo or video clip, it’s gone forever and cannot be replicated.

When it comes to file management and storage in the photography industry, no matter what type of photos or videos you take, it is never fun to ask someone to do a re-shoot for any reason and it’s far worse to try to explain to a bride and groom that their photos are just gone. This is why the question of storage and backups should be a top question when choosing your photographer.

I wish when I first started Epoch Moment 8 years ago that someone would’ve sat me down and explained this side of things to me and the importance of it. So if you’re just starting out or have been in business for some time but haven’t built a solid backup and storage system, then this is that moment for you.

So buckle up and let’s get boring! Epoch Moment offers both photo and video for every wedding. An average wedding is anywhere from 4000 to 7000 RAW images and hours of 4k and 1080 footage. We use the Sony A7IV’s and S3, and RIV for capturing the day. That’s 31MB sensors on the A7IV’s and 61MB on the RIV with 4k 4:2:2:10 bit footage on the S3 and 4:2:2:10 bit 1080 footage from any of the other cameras.

It’s roughly 500GB per wedding day!

This year we’ve shot 67 weddings. That’s just under 34TB of photo and video data that we have had to move around, duplicate and store.

To put that into perspective…

  • An average RAW phone photo is 2MB to 4MB in size
  • A Sony A7IV file is 34MB
  • A Sony 7RIV file is 60MB
  • Video files range based on length between a few MB to upwards of 1GB+
  • 34TB is 34,000,000 MB’s – (34 MILLION)

And this is just the weddings… On top of all of the weddings we have all of the engagements, family shoot, seniors, headshots, music videos, promo videos, graphic designs, plus all of the video and photo editing assets we use in the editing process. In a full year we’re closer to 45TB+ of data being moved around, duplicated and stored.

Our old storage and backup system:

The sheer amount of data we’re storing and moving and duplicating is problem number 1… Problem 2 was needing to be able to access and use the data from any of the 3 editing computers we have. I’ll make another post about the computers we build and use… Get ready nerds!

Our old storage solution/process.

  • Put a copy of the files we’re working on onto one of the editing computers
    • Every drive on the computer automatically makes a copy in the cloud as a backup
  • Put overflow onto 16TB external HDD drives
    • These are also backed up in the cloud
  • When done editing
    • Move the edited jpegs onto another external drive for storage and cloud backup
    • Leave the RAW copy on an external HDD but delete the files from the editing computer to free up space and bring over new files to edit the next client project.

We now have 8 external Seagate HDD’s… They range from 4TB to 16TB. We would just buy the lowest storage to price ratio drive at the time we needed it and start filling up the next one once the current one was full.

This was a decent system until we reached the level of business we’re at now and it is simply not sustainable with the amount of data we store and edit.

Our Current Storage and Backup System

Going from an average of 28 weddings and one person to 67+ and 3 people… It was definitely time to upgrade and simplify the entire system.

We needed a system that can handle all of the files we create in one place, duplicate those files, sync them both to the cloud, and make them all accessible between multiple editing computers.

So we built a beast of a backup system with a much easier process:

What we built:

Our current process:

  • Upload all RAW and video files to the storage
    • These files get automatically duplicated using RAID 10
    • All drives get automatically copied to the cloud using BackBlaze
  • All editing computers can access the files and storage system
  • Copy RAW files to an editing computer to edit
  • Once editing is finished
    • Send edited files to the storage systems client folder
    • Then delete the RAW files from the editing computer since we still have 3 copies on the system
  • At the end of each year we purge the storage system (jpeg and usable video footage)
    • RAW files get deleted unless planned to use or re-edit at a later date
    • These files get sent to an external HDD for deep archives disconnected from the network

The main feature of a system like this is that we will always have 2 to 3 copies of every RAW photo and video file until they have long since been delivered to the clients. Two copies are local (in office) while a 3rd and 4th copy is silently collected in the cloud. The cloud is also redundant between multiple servers making it nearly impossible for this system to ever suffer a total or partial loss of files.

Also, if a HDD fails (or starts to fail) inside the system, the software will let me know which drive is failing or about to so I can simply swap it out with a new one. All we have to do is swap out the damaged drive with a new one and the system automatically copies the files to the new drive to continue the redundancy.

This entire system is absurd in specs, size, and redundancy… But the peace of mind is immeasurable.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image media=”79970″ media_width_percent=”100″ uncode_shortcode_id=”104536″][vc_column_text uncode_shortcode_id=”192071″]You can find the links to Amazon below.

They have numerous options if you wanted to start off more reasonable. You can get the 4-bay Synology system and reduce the size of the HDDs to better fit your needs. The Synology comes with RAM so you do not need to upgrade this, and it will work fine with one M.2 as a cache drive. You can also get the 4-bay or 6-bay and only populate 2 bays leaving yourself plenty of room to upgrade as needed.

No matter what you decide to do for storage and backup… Just have a plan in place that allows redundancy and true backup so you’re not risking the clients memories to save a little front end costs.

It’s not sexy, but I truly believe it is better to invest in a system like this early as it provides more value than the latest camera or cool lights. This is an unavoidable problem we all have and you will not regret investing into a system that will last years to come.

The system we built is roughly $4500 total. It runs super fast wired using the Cat8 line in a 10GBs port and decently fast running through the router/wifi to the laptop.

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