Steve Casimiro’s Digital Photography Tips: Four Ways to Protect Your Photos

By West Coast Editor Steve Casimiro

Losing your camera stinks, losing your photos is heartbreaking.

When Santiago, Chile’s professional soccer team won its big championship at home last spring, the bad boy futbol fans went wild. There was rioting. There was tear gas. In the melee and confusion and crowds that spilled into the downtown plazas, someone unzipped my friend Lisa’s purse and stole her point-and-shoot camera. And it wasn’t just her camera, but the photos of her 21st birthday and a week of adventure in the Patagonian outback (as seen in the photo above). Fortunately, there were three other cameras on the trip, but still: Every picture she shot was lost forever.

When it comes to digital photography, don’t wait for something to go wrong. Memory cards are cheap, and it’s easy to buy the biggest one and store all your photos on it. Even a 1 GB card can stash hundreds of snapshots. But don’t do it. Cards corrupt themselves, get lost, are stolen. I’ve had four simply die and who knows how many I’ve lost. When I’m shooting a story, I use 2 GB Compact Flash cards even though my camera can take much bigger ones; that allows 120 pictures per card and reduces my loss if something goes wrong. The extra work swapping and storing cards is nothing compared to the cost of losing irreplaceable pictures.

Here are four simple, yet essential digital photography guidelines:

1. Shoot the biggest file size and highest resolution your camera allows. You can always shrink the pics without losing quality, but you can’t make them larger.

2. If you’re carrying a laptop, transfer your photos to its hard drive every night, then delete them from the card.

3. If you don’t have a laptop with you, try not to keep more than 25 percent of your pictures on a single card.

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4. Have a dedicated wallet or container for storing the cards. Those suckers are teeny. My favorite is the Pee Wee Pixel Rocket from Think Tank Photo ($13.50). It carries four larger CF cards and three smaller SD cards.

See more photos and shooting tips from Patagonia >>

Photography by Steve Casimiro

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