I am human. So are you!

Posted on: 17 November 2009 | Category: Q & A


Yesterday was probably the worst day in my career so far! I felt my heart race and I felt like a heart attack was right on my heels, I felt numb and every thing stood still. But thank the Lord all worked out well. It’s probably something very little photographers will write about, as it puts you in quite a vulnerable position. But something I realized was that we are all human! We ARE vulnerable, we do make mistakes and we will make mistakes! And the quicker you realize it and accept it, the easier it will be for you… ok, so all of you are wondering what happened, well, here is the story:

I did a shoot and while I was editing I realized that some of the photos were missing. Ok, NOT COOL! I checked my 3 backups…Yes I run 3 backups of all my shoots. I basically download my cards and then I copy that same folder on 3 different external hard drives, to make super sure nothing can fail on me. I have a very set system and it’s NEVER failed me before, but as I say, we are human and technology can fail, so as I checked the files I realized that there was a gap in the time zone, which meant that those photos were missing and missing on all 3 hard drives! So I went back to my cards, but they were already formatted. So they were gone…

But then I started reading up on recovery software and I first bought Sandisk Rescue, but I had no luck, then later that day I came across Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery. This is the program that saved my files!! I ran the program over the formatted card and I got all my RAW files back. In full quality! As if it was still on the card! This is a program you hav to buy! It’s only 38$ and a must have for such a situation. I still don’t understand how this happend, as it was only about a quarter of the photos on the original card that I was missing, so for some reason they were never downloaded.

I jotted down a quick check list for those of you who don’t have a set system yet, this might help to illuminate situations like these:

  • While shooting, make sure you put your clean cards in one bag/holder and the full cards in a separate one. I use the sandisk bags to separate mine. I hook them on my shootsac, so that they are close by. I use the white sandisk bag as the empty cards and the red one for the full ones.


  • When you get home, create a new file on your computer or external hard drive. I use external hard drives as this gives me freedom to travel with my files and it doesn’t fill up my computer. I use a filing system with the following sub divisions. A year division eg 2009, then I have a division for COUPLES, WEDDINGS, CORPORATE etc. Under the weddings I create a new file for my client, but I put their date first. In this way all my files will be sorted in the shoot date and not the name eg filename: 20091011 John & Adri
  • In the past I use to dump all the files in that folder and then it’s done, but NO!! Don’t do it! Your files names might over write each other especially if you shoot with more than 1 camera, so to keep track of exactly each file make a file for each card, eg in “20091011 John & Adri” you make a file “1″, “2″, “3″ etc and after each card is downloaded make sure you check the original files on the card and make sure you have the same amount of files in your file as on the card.
  • Copy this same file on 2 other external hard drives/flash disks so that you have all the originals in case one fails.

I hope this post helps some of you and that you’ll never have to go though what I went through yesterday!

  1. 17/11/2009 , 1:23 pm

    Oh Christine I am so happy that you managed to recover the files. Something similar happened to me quite a while back, but fortunately it was a card that had slipped behind a partition in my bag so nothing was lost.

    Just goes to show, we can never be too careful.

  2. 17/11/2009 , 1:27 pm

    Ek dink dis great dat jy dit deel.

  3. 17/11/2009 , 1:31 pm

    I actually feel a little sick just reading what happened, but I am happy for you that it all turned out okay!

  4. 17/11/2009 , 2:42 pm

    Bly jy kon dit red :-) Jy moet bietjie loer na die Drobo. Great external storage solution.

  5. 17/11/2009 , 3:04 pm

    Well played, Christine. I know of a lot of people that would’ve shrugged their shoulders and let it go.

  6. 17/11/2009 , 4:59 pm

    Dankie Christine ~ Great info!

  7. 17/11/2009 , 6:08 pm

    Crazy tye! Ek moes een vroee oggend in botswana kaarte ruil, en ek het handskoene aangehad. Als het so vinnig gebeur, en toe ek na die tyd op pak om te gaan, besef ek toe dat die een kaart uit my sak uit geval het. Dit was gelukkig net ‘n 1GB kaart, maar die coolste shot van die oggend was daarop (en dis embarrassing)… ek het vir maklik 2 ure in die gras rondgeloop tot ek dit eventually gekry het.

    Dis rerig ‘n gevoel wat mens nooit oor wil he nie!

  8. 17/11/2009 , 6:26 pm

    Glad things worked out Christine! And thanks for the reminder to have a documented process!

  9. 17/11/2009 , 10:28 pm

    Hey Christine, I feel for you on this one as I too have had corrupt cards. I always take my laptop to weddings and down load my images before I leave. On Saturday I had a corrupt card and I managed to redo the shots that I had missed. Luckly I managed to recover the lost images with rescue pro. I guess the only thing to do with the corrupt card is to throw it away and replace it with a new one.

  10. 17/11/2009 , 11:34 pm

    Wow, thank you thank you and thank you again for this check list.

    I am soooo glad you got your files back!

  11. 18/11/2009 , 12:10 pm

    Dankie dat jy dit share C! Ek het ook ‘n ruk terug ‘n stukkie van die dag verloor en dit eers later uitgevind nadat ek die kaart geformat het, as ek net daai software gehad het!! Ja, dit voel asof alles om jou in ‘n timewarp vries! Soos jy sê ons almal is net human en al is ons sisteem hoe fool proof, kan so iets met enige iemand gebeur!

  12. 18/11/2009 , 4:00 pm

    great advice chistine. most importantly….glad you were able to recover the photos. i hope your heart beat has slowed :)

  13. 18/11/2009 , 4:54 pm

    My arms het sommer lam geword toe ek jou storie lees! Dankie vir al die goeie raad!

  14. 18/11/2009 , 7:44 pm

    Nice post and glad to hear you got your images back.

    If you use a downloading program, you can copy files from different cameras (even if they have the same file numbers- it will add extension to the file names) and do your back ups all in the same downloading process. Ive found this to be the most fool proof method of keeping files safe!

  15. 19/11/2009 , 9:24 am

    ‘n Cool book om te lees is “The DAM Book” – Peter Krogh, Digital Asset Management for Photographers.

    “n Fotograaf se foto’s is soos ‘n belegging.

  16. 21/11/2009 , 8:16 pm

    I remember something similar to this happening to me when still working in film (now that tells you how ancient I am!!) There is nothing more soul-destroying than that feeling you have described…

    This is one of the great beauties of being digital. Great lesson for us all – as long as the space on the disc is not yet overwritten with new material, the old files should always be there.

    I also move discs, from one pocket in my photo jacket, to another pocket – left to right – just like we read. (For a do-do like me!) Each disc is also labelled 1, 2 etc so that I know I haven’t misplaced any (or dropped them in the middle of the vineyard or when crawling through the bushes!!)

    The only thing I can add – we ought to be careful of using cards so large that they hold huge portions of documentation from the day (not such a great issue these days as we capture 16+ mp files, so an 8G disc fills up quickly) I still buy 2 and 4 G discs, not only because they are at giveaway prices, but because if something is wrong/ corrupt/ lost etc, then it is only a small portion of the day.

  17. 23/11/2009 , 12:57 pm

    Hallo C!
    ek dink nie ek het al ooit op jou site gecomment nie, maar visit baie, en het soveel respek vir jou.

    Wil net dankie se aan jou en al die ander wie gecomment het op jou post – dankie vir raad, en eerlik en oop wees om te share – het ook al heavy probleme opgetel, en NET met die Here se hulp het als uitgewerk.

    Julle chats help baie!!! dankie – en bly ons kan mens wees, en leer, en leef!

  18. 24/11/2009 , 1:16 pm

    Dankie dat jy die waardevolle inligting deel. Mens dink somtyds dat sekere beroepe seepglad verloop. Wie sou kon dink dat so riller voor jou deur gestaan en wag het. Vir ‘n “groentjie” is dit waardevolle inligting en reg te kan begin.

    Baie dankie, en voorspoed en seënwense vir jou.

  19. 25/11/2009 , 9:13 pm

    WOW hectic situation! I’m so happy for you you could get them back!! Thanx for the tips I’m sure it will help lots of us!

  20. 01/12/2009 , 3:52 am

    Thats great that you recovered your photos! and a great systenm you have. I too have a white sandisk and pink sandisk…this works great! :)

  21. 02/12/2009 , 2:24 pm

    Wow, what a story… glad it turned out ok.

    I only see one flaw in your workflow and I was wondering what you thought about it. I know some photographers carry a few cards with them and cycle them VERY regularly, well before they are full, that way if one card fails they don’t have a half hour slot dead, but rather a selection of shots throughout the day. i.e. if you use one card for the signing of the register and the card dies then you have lost that whole event.

    I am by no means a pro, but I can see the logic in it, even if it would be a pain in the **** to manage.

  22. 02/12/2009 , 8:04 pm

    Hey Christine, check out this rather ugly but brilliant piece of hardware http://www.nextodi.com/en/. This is what Jules uses and I have to say it kick ass on the on site backup front. If you put the same card in twice you can verify the copy was successful or recopy. The best thing about it is that it copies sooooo quickly so much quicker then any of the other epson/etc etc I have used.

    The other thing I don’t dig are these 64GB memory cards that are coming out. If you are shooting on Hasselblad then fair enough but I reckon you increase the chance of failure by putting all your images in one basket so to speak.

    @Ruan: I’ve heard Drobo is sloooow

    Anyhoo that’s Jules tech support (a.k.a. hubby) 2c for you. Glad you got your pics back.


  23. 02/12/2009 , 10:16 pm

    @Simon I guess it depends which type of connection you use. Drobo supports eSATA, Firewire 800 and USB. I”ve also read that some operating systems default to Firewire 400 and you need to tweak it to get faster performance. I do expect it to be slower than an internal disk though since it’s a RAID solution writing to multiple disks at a time, so you pay some penalty for getting redundancy,

  24. 01/04/2010 , 9:05 am

    jip, en toe gebeur dit!!!!! (en erens in my kop onthou ek hierdie inskrywing van jou). Stunning software… gaan dit def aanskaf…het regtig gehelp!!!

  25. 01/04/2010 , 9:06 am

    ps: ek het toe NIE die images delete nie, net die verkeerde kaart beet gehad….! Maar die software het anyway goed gewerk op die ‘scapegoat’ kaart;-)))

  26. 08/02/2011 , 11:23 am

    Excellent advice!! and love you openness .. so true we need to accept that we are human and things can go wrong!!

  27. 17/03/2011 , 10:53 pm

    Sjoe, Christene. Ek haal my hoed af vir jou. Jy is so oop en eerlik met alles. Ek is nou net ‘n rukkie in die bedryf en daar is min mense soos jy wat ander help, ek leer soveel van jou. Baie dankie. Ek is mal oor jou werk.

  28. 21/05/2011 , 6:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing Christine. It is definitely one of the worst positions a photographer can be in and that software will be very helpful. I also read up about the same type of situation and after having read quite a few articles, still got nowhere, so this will be helpful.
    As for my filing system, I use the Lightroom filing system to keep track of everything, also in date order, storing onto a Drobo. This has really changed my life with regards to keeping track of shoots.

  29. 09/11/2011 , 4:51 am

    Wow..I am so glad it all worked out Ok. I will be investing in SPPR as this type of thing has always been a worry.

  30. 20/11/2011 , 8:45 am

    I just lost over 30 000 images. My little one pulled the hard drive from the desk. I know know to keep more than 1 back_up!