What’s the most valuable thing in this image? The laptop? The 40D or 50D? How about the 24-70mm or 70-200mm lens? Surely not the £70 USB drive or the Compact Flash cards? The answer is none of the above, as it’s a bit of a trick question. It’s the images stored on the USB HD & CF cards. Insurance can replace all of the laptop and camera hardware, but no insurance can replace the images and time taken to make them. Sure you can try to recreate shots taken in a studio, but asking the bride and groom to get redressed in their wedding attire, say “I do” and cut the cake again is something no photographer should ever have to contemplate, and very few would accept such a request. Weddings are only one example. How about that Motor sport event where you caught a car airborne, mid roll or yumping? Or that once in a lifetime nature shot you waited untold hours for? Or your child winning their first sports day event?

Thankfully I’ve not suffered such a loss, but I’m ready for it should the worst happen thanks to two horror stories that stuck in my mind, one from a fellow digital photographer who had a bag lifted and learnt the hard way to change his habits, the second from a couple that had no wedding images after the photographer had to admit he’d shot film and the lab messed up all the developing.

Every year a number of photographers are unfortunate enough to suffer the loss of their camera equipment. Either because someone’s stolen their bag, or stolen their car, getting the camera gear as an expected bonus to their crime.

Don’t let yourself be a total victim due to theft, no matter how unlikely. Keep the images on you until you’ve got them backed up to TWO devices, keeping in mind that drives do fail. Imagine coming back to a service station car park after a long shoot and hours of driving to find the space you’d parked in empty. I’ve had a car stolen outside a studio years ago in London while I was inside shooting.

My last wedding shoot started at 0900 and finished 0100. It was a long but enjoyable day with a great couple of families in the Scottish Boarders. By the time we sat down for the reception dinner I had all of my largest cards full of RAW format files. The contents were copied to both my laptop and USB drive before the CF cards were erased. Thanks to a handy little Lifeventure zip up belt bag from Millets the WD USB drive stayed with me, the CF cards tucked away in the Lowepro belt card carrier.

Another good little tip, keep empty cards face up, used cards face down. It will save guess work and wasted time when it’s time to swap cards.