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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 03 Aug 2012 (Friday) 09:19
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Backup: How far do you go?

 
frugivore
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Aug 03, 2012 09:19 |  #1

The concept of backup is often brought up in event photography, particularly when discussing weddings. "Get a second body!" is common advice given to novices who ask for help. But does backup stop there?

Aside from the camera body, there are many other pieces of equipment that could fail, or get lost/stolen. There are batteries, memory cards/storage, lights and triggers, support/carrying equipment and, of course, lenses. Failure in any one of these categories can spell disaster.

Do you have backups of all your equipment? Are these backups exact duplicates, or do you have a backup that is sufficient to keep you going if the main item fails?

For example, what lens will you use if your 70-200 is stolen just before the ceremony? Do you have another 70-200 in the car? If you use strobes for the reception, what do you do if someone knocks over your stand and it breaks? Do you use only speedlites or primes/high ISO instead?

How about backup of the actual files - do your cameras have dual memory slots for instant backups? Do you backup your files on site?

And perhaps the most important backup of all - you! What is your backup plan in case you fall very sick or a sudden emergency arose? Do you have an agreement with other photographers?

So how far do you go with backups?




  
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nicksan
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Aug 03, 2012 09:40 |  #2

I use the dual card slots on my 5D3s. RAW to CF and Large JPEGs to SD. I have enough lenses that I would be OK. I don't have overlap between 35mm-70mm, but I'd be fine shooting with any one of the shorter primes in that range. As for the 70-200, if that goes down, I have the 135L. Ideally, I'd like a third camera.

I have 2 x 600-EX-RT and 2 x YN-560.

I don't back up onsite.

If I fall ill, I have a network of photographers to call upon, however I don't guarantee an alternate and I mention this in my contract.

When I get home, I back up to 1 internal and 2 external hard drives. 1 of the hard drives go offsite.




  
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PeaceFire
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Aug 03, 2012 09:49 |  #3

For gear I have two sets of cameras (I like to use a FF and crop sensor combo at weddings). So my "main set" is a 5DII and a 7D. My "back-up" set is a 5D and a 40D. All four cameras are sufficient for wedding photography and I wouldn't hesitate to use any of them at any given time.

For lenses I have four and all are different but can be used individually or together during a wedding. I prefer not to use my primes (50mm and 100mm) if I don't have to, but I can if I must.

For flashes I have 3 now (getting a fourth soon). I use my YN-560s for most things and I have two of those. My 580 EX II is actually my back-up now. Like everything else, all three are sufficient.

For backing up my work I keep recent projects directly on the computer for 3 months, backed up on hard drives for 6 months, and off site for 1 year. My contract states that images are only accessible for 6 months. Haven't had an issue with that yet...


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rincon
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Aug 03, 2012 10:39 |  #4

We carry a 5Dc, 2 40D's, and my venerable 30D as the "last resort" backup body. We primarily use zooms that overlap focal lengths except for the 70-200. If it were to fail, we would use either the kit 28-135 or the 100 prime on a crop body and just have to move a ittle closer during the ceremony. We carry 4 Adorama Flashpoint monolights for the reception venue, 4 YN-560's for off camera flash, and 2 Sunpak PZ42x's for on-camera/bounce. For memory, we carry 12 CFcards in 2 separate pouches. Once home, all images are uploaded to the PC with dual RAID drives and immediately copied to an external drive. I don't store the external drive offsite, but am seriously considering it.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Aug 03, 2012 21:58 |  #5

Dual cards slots in the 5D3's and I also carry a 60D on the day. 12 lenses with overlapping of all the range although the Fish and TS-E are included in those. 3 speedlites which although I rarely use flash. Enough spare CF cards to shoot an entire wedding, heaps of batteries (both camera and AA).

1 internal back up, 2 external, one goes in a fire safe and the other is stored offsite.

I don't back up on site as I'm too bust shooting.

If I'm ill and unable to work at all I have people I can call but chances are they'll be busy too as they are good. Like Nick my contract covers me here as I make no guarantee of a replacement.


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picturecrazy
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Aug 04, 2012 01:30 |  #6

frugivore wrote in post #14808948 (external link)
...So how far do you go with backups?

I go pretty far. I've had plenty of failures on all types of gear.

Primary wedding bodies: 1Ds mark III and 40D.
Backup wedding bodies that sit in the car: 1D mark III and 40D. I guess you can say I have a backup for BOTH of my primary cameras.

Lenses: I don't duplicate too much here. I use the advantages of shooting crop and FF to fill voids where needed. My wedding set is a 10-22, 17-55, 50L, 85 1.8, 60 macro, and 70-200 2.8 IS. For example, if my 70-200 goes down (6 years of hard use and not a single glitch... knock on wood!) I would slap the 85mm on my 40D to get a quasi-135mm. The only lens where I don't have overlap is the 10-22. But I have a Tokina 11-16 waiting in the car just in case that goes down, so really I'm covered. Yes, there are many distinct advantages of always having a crop strapped to you. I have a 40D, 17-55, 10-22, and 24-105 out to Toshio for repair right now. All of them have been dropped and crashed around multiple times. They all work, but I know they're not quite at 100% anymore. No problem shooting though, I can get on fine without them.

I bring 5 speedlites with me just in case I have problems. I also bring an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra for the bridal photoshoot. I bring two heads just in case one goes down. Ironically, one of the heads blew up during a shoot a couple weeks ago so luckily I have the backup to use. I also bring multiples of any triggering system I use, be it pocketwizards, skyports, cybersyncs, or radiopoppers (I use them all). Always at least two transmitters and two receivers!

The main reason I shoot with a 1-series camera as a primary is for the dual card slots. I write RAW files to BOTH cards. A 32GB card in each slot and I'm set for a full wedding day of 21mp RAW shots. I download jpegs at the reception to my laptop. So if I lose a card, I'll have most of the photos on my laptop. It is a last ditch resort which I've never had to use. Unfortunately, I HAVE had about 7 CF card failures. Good thing for dual card slots!

Here's another backup that I always bring. Clothes! I have a FULL change of clothes in my car for every wedding. That includes socks and underwear! Just this last weekend's wedding in the morning I slipped on some mud while running and went down on my knee HARD on pavement. I tore a layer of skin off my knee, and tore right through my pants! I had to pick bits of rocks and thread out of my knee. I slugged through the wedding and shot to my standard, but the next three days I was on crutches because I bashed it so bad. But if I didn't have backup clothes, I'd have been shooting in torn muddy pants which is totally unacceptable.

So yeah, I basically have backups of everything. It is our JOB to be prepared. We are pro wedding shooters. If something goes terribly wrong and you cannot continue to deliver a product 100% of your usual standard, then you shouldn't be wedding shooting. You are selling yourself as a wedding pro but you're not adequately prepared for it. Clients couldn't care less what bad stuff happens to you, they pay you for a quality product so they should get it regardless. I have no sympathy whatsoever for shooters that don't come in adequately prepared.


-Lloyd
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frugivore
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Aug 04, 2012 06:37 |  #7

nicksan wrote in post #14809059 (external link)
I use the dual card slots on my 5D3s. RAW to CF and Large JPEGs to SD.

Nick, when you were shooting with 5D2s, where you concerned about not having dual card slots? I would think that if any type of photography calls for dual card slots, it would be weddings. And also curious as to why you don't also shoot RAW to SD.

PeaceFire wrote in post #14809093 (external link)
For flashes I have 3 now (getting a fourth soon). I use my YN-560s for most things and I have two of those. My 580 EX II is actually my back-up now.

I use my YN-560s more too, except for when I need the focus assist beam. But once I get a second 580EX II with TTL triggers, I will probably stick the YNs in the car trunk.

rincon wrote in post #14809353 (external link)
We primarily use zooms that overlap focal lengths except for the 70-200. If it were to fail, we would use either the kit 28-135 or the 100 prime on a crop body and just have to move a ittle closer during the ceremony.

One of my concerns is what I would use in place of the 70-200. My next longest non-consumer lens is the 100/2, but I think geting "a little closer" might instead be "a lot closer" for me in most cases.

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #14811812 (external link)
1 internal back up, 2 external, one goes in a fire safe and the other is stored offsite.

I hadn't thought about a fire safe for onsite storage. I actually have one in my home office that I should start using. Thanks for the idea!

picturecrazy wrote in post #14812361 (external link)
The main reason I shoot with a 1-series camera as a primary is for the dual card slots. I write RAW files to BOTH cards. A 32GB card in each slot and I'm set for a full wedding day of 21mp RAW shots. I download jpegs at the reception to my laptop. So if I lose a card, I'll have most of the photos on my laptop. It is a last ditch resort which I've never had to use. Unfortunately, I HAVE had about 7 CF card failures. Good thing for dual card slots!

That's a lot of failures. I'm not sure if I want to bring my laptop to the reception... I wonder if there is a portable device that lets you backup CF cards. I think I saw something at B&H.

picturecrazy wrote in post #14812361 (external link)
Here's another backup that I always bring. Clothes! I have a FULL change of clothes in my car for every wedding. That includes socks and underwear! Just this last weekend's wedding in the morning I slipped on some mud while running and went down on my knee HARD on pavement. I tore a layer of skin off my knee, and tore right through my pants! I had to pick bits of rocks and thread out of my knee. I slugged through the wedding and shot to my standard, but the next three days I was on crutches because I bashed it so bad. But if I didn't have backup clothes, I'd have been shooting in torn muddy pants which is totally unacceptable.

So yeah, I basically have backups of everything. It is our JOB to be prepared. We are pro wedding shooters. If something goes terribly wrong and you cannot continue to deliver a product 100% of your usual standard, then you shouldn't be wedding shooting. You are selling yourself as a wedding pro but you're not adequately prepared for it. Clients couldn't care less what bad stuff happens to you, they pay you for a quality product so they should get it regardless. I have no sympathy whatsoever for shooters that don't come in adequately prepared.

Ouch! It must have been excruciatingly painful to shoot the wedding after that.

Lloyd, thanks for the detailed comments. I haven't thought about backup clothes, but I will definitely bring a set from now on.




  
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picturecrazy
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Aug 04, 2012 08:28 |  #8

frugivore wrote in post #14812714 (external link)
That's a lot of failures. I'm not sure if I want to bring my laptop to the reception... I wonder if there is a portable device that lets you backup CF cards. I think I saw something at B&H.

Yeah, there are devices specifically made for that. I used to use one about 7 years ago when I first made the switch to digital. It was called the digital partner. It was basically a shell and battery for like $50. You buy a 2.5" laptop hard drive and put it in. It had CF, SD, and MS slots. I'm sure they have evolved a lot since then, but these were nice because they worked, were small, didn't need a power cord when on-site, and were cheap.

frugivore wrote in post #14812714 (external link)
Ouch! It must have been excruciatingly painful to shoot the wedding after that.

Lloyd, thanks for the detailed comments. I haven't thought about backup clothes, but I will definitely bring a set from now on.

Let me tell you, I forgot to bring backup clothes ONCE. And at that one wedding, I tore the ass open on my pants so big that it was almost like I was wearing chaps. I guess I had gained weight... hahaha.


-Lloyd
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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Aug 04, 2012 11:10 |  #9

^Don't leave us hanging, man (like the polyester ass-flaps that evening..)--what happened ? What do you do without backup clothing in that case ?

I have a wedding this afternoon and am now so paranoid about being reduced to chaps that I'm throwing another outfit in the car..



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picturecrazy
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Aug 04, 2012 11:48 |  #10

haha luckily it was a winter wedding so I had a 3/4 length coat. I shot in my coat all day and was sweating like a dog.


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frugivore
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Aug 04, 2012 21:26 |  #11

picturecrazy wrote in post #14813538 (external link)
haha luckily it was a winter wedding so I had a 3/4 length coat. I shot in my coat all day and was sweating like a dog.

I just finished shooting a wedding. It was 35 degrees Celsius here in Toronto and the formals were outside in the baking hot sun. The brides house was even hotter because ther was no AC!! My black dress shirt had very visible sweat stains by the time we were done. I got in my car, changed shirts - i only packed it because of your post Lloyd - and was fine for the reception. Backup clothes from now on.




  
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brokensocial
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Aug 04, 2012 22:02 |  #12

Mmm, we usually bring backup clothes but I forgot to do so at our last wedding. Got a wedding this weekend here in Michigan and I'll try to remember.


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nicksan
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Aug 05, 2012 00:49 |  #13

frugivore wrote in post #14812714 (external link)
Nick, when you were shooting with 5D2s, where you concerned about not having dual card slots? I would think that if any type of photography calls for dual card slots, it would be weddings. And also curious as to why you don't also shoot RAW to SD.

Honestly, I wasn't too concerned. That's not to say I wasn't concerned at all. I used to shoot with 1 series bodies and when I switch over to Nikon, the D3. The D700 only had 1 card slot so that was a concern. Same thing with the 5D2. But thankfully nothing ever happened. I am very happy that I get the dual card slot back with the 5D3.

The reason I don't shoot RAW to SD is that IMO, in reality, CF cards rarely fail. I use Sandisk ones and I've never had one fail on me in the 6 years I've been shooting. That's not to say it will never happen. Of course eventually it will. And even having dual card slot is no guarantee that you'll get redundancy. Something could fail with the camera internally that it's unable to write, etc.

You can never completely eliminate risk. You can only minimize it.




  
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tim
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Aug 05, 2012 03:59 |  #14

I just blogged about backups for wedding photographers (external link). I don't go to the extent of backup clothes, 120+ weddings and no problems.


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Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
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Pupu
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Aug 05, 2012 12:42 |  #15

A question from noob: With all these back-ups, would still get them to a wedding, which is not paying enough. Would you still get them as back-ups just to ensure that there is no quality difference in your product. Or would you explain it to the couple that, since the price is less, they will run on a risk of less back-ups or would you avoid weddings which does not pay for your entire set-up?
I think, I'm not deviating from the topic :-)


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Backup: How far do you go?
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