You should ALWAYS backup your photos. There's nothing I hate more, than opening my email to read 'We've lost our photos, do you still have copies?
The fact of the matter is, I probably do - but you shouldn't rely on that. I tell my clients that I keep their files in my office RAID storage for one year, on my cloud backup for one year and online for one year from the date of their event. After that, there are no guarantees. You invest so much money into these photos, why not have a backup of them for years to come? A DVD or a thumb-drive is easily lost, it's time to think about years from now, the moves, the clutter, the potential for natural disaster. It's better to be safe, than sorry.
With that knowledge, I always encourage people to do two things:
BACKUP YOUR PHOTOS
Personally, everytime a session hits my camera, it's automatically duplicated to another memory card. Once home, it gets imported onto my computer and backed up to my RAID system which creates two copies. From there, I use two cloud storage companies to keep all of my RAW files. One keeps everything I've created since our house burnt down (another reason I'm slightly crazy over backups) and the other keeps everything that I'm currently working on. ONCE edited, all JPEG files are backed up to my Amazon Drive for a year. If I'm taking this much of a precaution to ensure the safety of your photos, you should too!
There are SO many companies that offer cloud storage services, so I'll share the ones that work for me. I also encourage you to get a physical hard drive, put your important photos on it and keep it in a lockbox in your bank or somewhere safe.
Google Drive - Google drive is free to start, up to 15GB. So if you are only backing up a few shoots or you don't have a lot of files, it's a great spot to start. The best thing is you can buy more storage and their prices are VERY low - $1.99 for 100 GB. I love Googles accessibility, you can easily access the files you have backed up from anywhere - your phone, your laptop or your home computer. My opinion is though, that if you're storing more than 100GB, your best bet is CrashPlanPro for the same price.
CrashPlanPro - I LOVE CPP. While they are geared towards small businesses, they have no storage cap with being only $10 a month (USD) I encourage everyone with a heavy number of files to use this company. I've been on board with them since 2015 and everything is automated. The initial upload WILL take a LONG time, be warned - but after that, the moment a new file has been created on the drive you're backing up, it automatically gets uploaded. Unlike some cloud companies, they do not delete files from the cloud that you have removed from your computer. You need to download their interface to your computer, but you can access your files through their online portal from anywhere and download them in a zipped file.
Backblaze - Backblaze is an added bit of protection for me. They sync with my office computer drives that host the projects I'm currently working on and recently delivered and backup everything that is current. They are great for keeping copies of drives that you won't be clearing, but the moment you delete something from a drive that Backblaze is synced to, it also deletes from their cloud. UPDATE: As of late 2020, Backblaze has a 'Forever' option available. You can still chose to delete after 30 days, but now there's one year and a forever option for hoarders like me.
Of course, there are MANY more companies like DropBox, Amazon, iCloud - but these three above are my go to work horses for keeping my files safe.
PRINT YOUR PHOTOS
There's nothing like holding a tangible object in your hands vs seeing it on a computer screen and that feeling intensifies when it's a stunning print of your family. Some of my earliest memories are pouring over family photo albums - the orange cast square photos gave way to the 4x6's throughout the years but the moments frozen in time stayed the same.
There are incredible print studios across the country but my absolute favourite is:
Newfoundland Canvas - Their product line keeps expanding and the quality cannot be matched. They're more than canvases, they do an incredible matte printed photo on stunning archival paper. They're based in Newfoundland, so they offer local pick up for those in St. John's, NL and shipping for those outside the city and in other provinces. I still use them even residing in Toronto for most of the year.
You could also do family photo albums, for each year or major event. I adore the ones by Blurb and Pikto - both offer major discount codes throughout the year so keep an eye out and sign up for their newsletter. They're also Canadian companies so no US dollar to deal with.
The main thing to steer clear of is value photo printers, as these are photos that can capture all the colours of the spectrum - some value printers cannot handle the diversity of colour, so their printers compensate. It's why the Wallyworld photos of your cousins wedding has her dress as blue, not white. It's better to invest the extra 20 cents in a proper print that will keep it's quality for years to come.
The most important thing is to make sure these kick ass photos are safe for generations to come, if you have any questions about storage or backup of our files - send me a message in a bottle!