This article was originally published on March 25, 2009 right here on Shutter Photo.
We are spoiled with modern cameras and equipment. Even the cheapest equipment is fairly dependable. But you need to keep one fact always in your mind: There is always a chance of failure. Failure of your shutter, memory card failure, lens failure…nothing is more disconcerting then having to end your photo session (even if it is just a hobby) because of something going wrong with your equipment. So I’ll say it again and again: Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy.
We’re not all made of money, so unless this is your career path, it’s sometimes hard to justify the added cost of having a backup camera body or a backup lens. So lets start with the basics.
At a minimum, you should have a backup memory card for your camera. If you regularly fill one card, you should keep two cards with your camera. If you regularly fill two, keep three or four. They’re cheap enough to get, so it’s worth grabbing a couple. They are bound to fail eventually, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to at least some of the card failures. So it pays to keep some extras on hand. And swap cards regularly: Because nothing is more embarassing than finding out your backup may have failed months ago, but you didn’t know about it. One caveat: I don’t recommend using massive cards. I would rather have four smaller 8 Gig cards than a single 32 Gig card. The reason is because there is always less to lose on a smaller card, and there’s always less that could fail.
Batteries. Keep extras in your bag for your camera(s), your flash(es) and anything else that needs power. If your traveling, keep an extra charger with you for your rechargeable batteries. This includes your camera’s main battery…even if it has a long life. You should always have two or three of those on hand that aren’t in use. If you’re adventurous and you work outdoors a lot in colder climates, be aware that rechargeable batteries tend to lose power much quicker. Take this into account and carry the spares in an insulated bag.
You should also backup your workflow. Get an external hard drive or backup system, burn DVD copies of your work regularly, or even subscribe to one of those online backup services or cloud systems like Amazon’s cloud drive. You absolutely do not want to lose your portfolio and all of your RAW files to a simple hard drive failure; especially considering the price of storage is so low.
As you can see, redundancy isn’t all about buying extra equipment. You have to keep the little things, like batteries, in mind at all times. You should also check your redundant equipment as part of your Pre-Session Routine. Trust me, you never want such a failure to bring you down. You have enough to worry about.