Don't Shoot in the Dark
A Risk Management Guide for Self-Employed Photographers and Videographers

Chapter 4: Protecting Your Photography / Videography Business
Part 2: Keeping Insurance Rates Low: Risk Management for Freelance Photographers and Videographers
How Photographers and Videographers Can Protect Their Digital Files

One of the most common (and costly) mistakes a photographer or videographer can make is losing a client's photographs and videos. It's the norm to shoot digitally these days, and there are lots of opportunities for errors when you're dealing with files on several small devices. Here are a few precautionary steps that you can take reduce the likelihood of data loss and a Cyber Liability claim:

  • Back up! And then do it again. The need to back up your digital files should go without saying — storing images on your hard drive is not enough. Ideally, you'd store digital files on your main computer and two additional devices. There are many different options for doing this: an external hard drive, a flash drive, a DVD, the cloud. Just be sure to develop a plan and stick with it. Also: at least one of your back-ups should be stored in an entirely different physical location. That way, if a thief loots the place or a fire destroys everything, you have another set of images stored elsewhere.
  • Prevent corruption. You should always treat your computer equipment with care. If you don't, you risk corrupting the device and its files. Always be careful when removing the memory card from your camera and computer. You should use the "eject" command on the computer every time.
  • Transfer quickly and often. You should be transferring your digital pictures and videos to your hard drive as soon after a session as possible. If you don't, you could accidently reformat your memory card and lose a client's pictures before they can be transferred and accounted for. Speaking of which, never delete or reformat a memory card unless you can verify that each image or video has been backed up.
  • Guard your cards. Tiny flash memory cards are not as sturdy as you may think, so handle them with care. For example, you should replace your memory cards once every six months — just to be on the safe side. While the average life expectancy of a card is likely longer than six months, card failure is still a real possibility. To prevent physical damage, you should never keep cards in your pocket. When transporting your card, you should always keep it in the little plastic case it came in. This reduces the likelihood of water and static electricity damage, both of which can render your files unreadable. You should also remember to keep your cards away from extreme temperatures — never keep them in your car on a hot day!

Even when you take preventative measures, mistakes can still happen. If you lose a client's digital images or video, it's best to be honest about it. Tell your clients as soon as possible and ask what type of price reduction they think it fair. You might take a financial hit on this job, but your professional integrity and your low insurance premium will stay intact.

Next: How Photographers and Videographers Can Prevent Equipment Loss

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