Large capacity memory cards seem to be the perfect solution to storing digital JPEG images and RAW files, but you do need to use them with care. Okay, memory card failures aren’t a frequent occurrence however they do happen, and when they do it can be catastrophic. If you have loaded up your entire photo shoot on a single high capacity SDHC card or CF card and it fails, you are going to lose everything. You may never have suffered a memory card failure however there is always a chance it could happen and having a “it won’t happen to me” attitude is very risky.
In a memory card failure you may be lucky and only lose a few personal photos however if it was a commercial photo session you could lose a lot more than just the photos. Let’s say you had shot a wedding using only one high capacity memory card and the entire shoot was on that card. With a wedding you only get one chance and if the memory card fails you will never be able to capture those photos again, and in this scenario you not only lose the photos but you also lose money, and worse still your reputation.
Wedding photography is competitive and there are loads of wannabe wedding photographers trying to get in on the action. It takes time, effort, hard work and good wedding shoots to make it in the world of wedding photography, and losing wedding photos is going to destroy your reputation in one foul swoop, and you will never get it back. Trust me on this.
Getting wedding photography gigs relies on word of mouth recommendations and if you lose the wedding photos you are not going to get a recommendation from the happy (likely to be “unhappy” couple). In fact, the chances are your failings will be splashed all over Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks before you know it, destroying your wedding business in the process.
Rather than using a single large capacity memory card it is safer to use several smaller SDHC cards and spread the photos across several memory cards. This means that if you do have a memory card fail there will still be plenty of other wedding photos for the happy couple to choose from.
Spreading the wedding photos across several memory cards doesn’t mean using a low capacity memory card, filling it up and then using a new one and doing the same, and so on. Nope, this is a risky strategy because you will find all the pre wedding ceremony photos are going to be on one memory card, all the ceremony photos will be on another memory card, all the reception photos will be on another memory card….. I am sure you get the idea. If one of the memory cards does fail you will lose an entire part of the wedding, which is not good.
The best way to spread the wedding photos is to have, say five memory cards (all individually numbered) and use each one for each part of the wedding shoot. So how does this work in practice?
Let’s take the “getting ready shots” first. When taking the getting ready shots you need to insert memory card 1 and take ten (this is just an illustrative number you may decide more or less) photos. Once you reach the ten you need to insert memory card 2 and take ten photos. Next insert memory card 3 and take 10 photos, and so on until you have used all memory cards.
After the “getting ready shots” it is time for the “pre ceremony shots”. First off insert memory card 1 and take 10 shots. Next, insert memory card 2 and take 10 shots, and so on.
You need to use all five cards for every part of the wedding shoot, so if one or two memory cards fail, you will still have images from every single part of the wedding shoot.
When approaching a wedding shoot using the technique above you need to be methodical. You also need to be disciplined and ensure you use each and every memory card and don’t get complacent with a “oh that’ll do” attitude. This approach isn’t difficult at all, and whilst it may seem like a faff it is well worthwhile doing.
When shooting weddings I make sure I use brand new memory cards for each and every shoot, and I never re-use SDHC cards. This may seem extravagant but I firmly believe there is less chance a memory card will fail if it hasn’t been used before so I always use new. I never lose out on memory cards and recharge the cost of them in the price of the wedding package.
There are several brands of memory card on the market but I use the Sandisk brand and the Extreme Pro cards. Whilst these are not the cheapest memory cards out there, they are good quality, they have a quick writing speed, they have a quick transfer speed and they are reliable. If you want some good quality SDHC or any other type of memory card for that matter you won’t go far wrong with these.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.