How much are your photos worth?

Above: Image Gina Milicia

Have you ever stopped to calculate how much your photos are worth?

I did a quick calculation of some of my faves over the years and did the maths… divide by four, carry the three, add a zero, equals – priceless. Yep, I know I now sound like I’m full of myself but I believe my best images are priceless.

Most of these images have only been seen by a handful of people. Technically most of these photos suck but I still rate them. Some have been framed so I can look at them every day. The rest are stuck to the fridge or pinned to the wall above my desk. You probably have similar images around your place right? Snapshots of pets and family members or favourite holiday destinations.

Up until the year 2000 I have dozens of photo albums filled with photos, snaps, memories. After 2000 I started shooting digital. I’ve taken more photos in the last 10 years than I’ve shot in my entire life and yet the section on my wall, fridge and photo album that covers 2007 to 2017 is looking rather empty. Life was still happening, moments were being saved, I just stopped printing them as often. I know I’m not alone here.

Facebook and Instagram #blessed have replaced the fridge as the preferred place to post images. This makes me a little sad and nervous at the same time. There are teenagers born in the noughties that have their entire lives documented in digital files and many kids under 10 whose entire lives have been captured on a smartphone. The great part about smartphones is they are super easy and convenient. The downside is there are people documenting and storing the memories of their entire lives (or the last 10 years or so) on a device that is often lost, damaged or stolen.

Do you know exactly where all your phone images from the last 10-15 years are backed up? *cue sound of crickets*

Here is my smartphone image backup protocol

  1. You feel lucky?

Do nothing, never back up your phone and store every image you’ve ever taken on it. There is a small chance you will never lose your phone or drop it in the toilet or leave it on the roof of your car and drive off or forget where you left it after the fourth tequila shot…

  1.  The bare minimum  

Connect your phone to a secure encrypted cloud storage system. I use Dropbox and Google Drive as well as Apple’s iCloud storage that automatically backs up my phone and syncs across all my devices.

  1. The next level

Backup images to an iCloud service and also backup to a computer and external hard drive.

  1. The best long term solution

Follow all the above steps and get all your images printed. Hard drives are a good backup solution but eventually they break or become obsolete. Remember floppy discs, CD’s,VCR?

  1. Hard drives fail

Aside from camera failure on the day of a big shoot my biggest nightmare scenario is having a hard drive roll over and go to hard drive heaven. I’m so paranoid about this that every time I meet someone who is a specialist in this industry I corner them and ask them a bazillions questions.

Q. “What brand of hard drive never fails?”

A. “There is no such thing, no hard drive is immortal. It’s not a matter of if it will cack itself but when.”

Whilst this is not the answer I want to hear I do take comfort in the knowledge that it’s very difficult to erase or destroy data altogether and even if your hard drive does stop working, fall in a river or dies some other horrible death, in many cases this data can be salvaged.

That’s the good news. The bad news is this can end up costing thousands of dollars so best practice is to continually update your storage and move your valuable archives every couple of years and keep a backup drive in another location just in case.

If you want to know my exact file backup protocol check out this podcast episode. I know it’s not a very sexy conversation but it may save you some heartache down the track.

  1. Print your favourite images

One of the best ways to save phone image files is to get them printed. I know it feels totally old school but it works a lot better than trying to work out how to get the images off your 2008 smartphone that you’ve lost all the chargers for.

This doesn’t need to be a costly exercise. Simply take your phone to your local Walmart, Kmart, Kodak and print out your favourite 50 images each year. That will probably set you back about five bucks and will take about 20 minutes of your time.

I’ve used Kmart to print snaps off my iPhone and they look good. I’m not talking high-end, high-art here, but good enough for the fridge or pinboard.

There are loads of online apps that you can also try that will also do a good job.

Where do you get your phone images printed? Do you have a favourite app or online store?

I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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