How to Lose 250,000 Photographs

Frank admission: that headline is total clickbait. I didn't lose 250,000 image files. In a previous life, I was an IT specialist. And one thing I know from those days is this: you cannot trust a hard drive. But you can 100% rely on them to be unreliable. So when it comes to storing photographs, I always have back ups in place. I have back ups of my back ups, even. If all my back ups simultaneously vanished, I wouldn't be too concerned about it. Mostly because the only thing that could cause that to happen is a natural disaster of such magnitude we'd all be blasted back to the Iron Age. I'd have bigger things to worry about, like where to find decent WiFi. So when a drive fails (as one did the other day), it's not the end of the world for me. My primary RAID configuration prevents the loss of any data. I also have everything mirrored on a separate RAID-configured device, stored many miles away. So my 250,000 image files are safe. While a quarter of a million image files sounds a lot (and it is), it's still not as many as some of the greats have accumulated. Some have as many as a million in their archive. And they photographed using film. Try storing 250,000 transparencies. You'd need a building the size of a bank. In fact, legendary US photographer Jay Maisel did own a former bank building. All I need is a big silver cube that can sit on any desk. At the moment, my collection of image files takes up about 15 terabytes of space, that includes video files. If I had said that publicly back when I was working as an IT consultant, I'd have been lovingly wrapped in a straightjacket. That much storage and data in the hands of a single private citizen? Hardly conceivable back then. I've been taking photographs professionally since 2005, say 13 years. That's an average of 19,230 pictures per year. 2010 was my most trigger-happy year. I took 50,000 photographs in 12 months—or about the same number of selfies a teenager takes in a month. In my defence, I was producing a lot of time-lapse work back then. That eats up space. So, as I look ahead to what I have lined up for 2018, I find myself thinking about storage. I see an upgrade in my future. I wonder whether I could get a petabyte storage solution somewhere? Ah, some friendly people with a straightjacket have just turned up at my door...

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