From The Archive: The Black Keys

You might not recognize the guy in the photo above. You might also be shocked to know that the photo is 7 years old. You’re looking at Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys shot at the TLA in Philadelphia, way back in 2005. Before winning 3 Grammys and rocking sold out shows in stadiums across the country, The Black Keys were making kick ass music and putting on a great live show. Chris was lucky enough to catch an early Black Keys performance and even make some photos. Keep reading for the rest of the story…

This is where the story becomes a cautionary tale about the importance of backing up your files. We’d have more concert shots to show, but the images were lost over the course of time and hard drive failure. It’s an unfortunate situation, but certainly one that is unavoidable with a little bit of planning and preparation. If you’re out there making pictures, you better have a way to back them up… and in all honesty, there better be a backup for that backup – just in case.

(click to enlarge)

Here’s a look at our system now. It might look pretty intense, but we take our pictures (and making sure we have them secure) pretty seriously.

Immediately after a shoot, we’ll download the photos to our work laptop and run the first round of workflow to get everything organized. At that point, all of those raw files get backed up onto the hard drives that we travel with – so we’ll always have two copies when we’re on the road, just in case. In our studio, we have 25tb of networked RAID storage for our entire archive of images.

As soon as possible (depending on how long we’re away for we have even shipped drives back to the studio) we backup from the work laptop and travel drives onto our archive in the studio. Ultimately this means that all of our recent work is stored (redundantly) in the studio and on the road with us. The final piece of the puzzle are our offsite backups, where we keep an entire copy of the entire archive (stored in a super-top-secret location) just in case. These offsite backups are updated quarterly to keep up with all of the new images we make. Come hell or high water, we like to be prepared.

Any questions? Leave them in the comments or ask away @crismanphoto on twitter.

Last but not least, if you don’t know any of The Black Keys’s music, do yourself a favor and change that. You can start with this live performance of the first track of their newest (and awesome) album El Camino. Enjoy.

10 replies to “From The Archive: The Black Keys”

  1. Smart system. I am trying to implement a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system right now. It’s not easy and takes more time than I’d like but know that I have the images secure is key. Do you guys use any kind of cataloging software like Media Pro or do you arrange things by folders?

  2. Hey Brian, thanks for the question. We have a pretty in-depth folder hierarchy that we use to keep things organized by year and job. I’m hoping to explain it in more detail in another blog post, but we essentially use Adobe Bridge as a media browser and keep a very strict system of file/job naming. Hope this helps!

  3. I’m curious if you keep all files from every photo shoot? If not, how do you decide what and when to cull?

  4. Hi Robert, (hit submit button by mistake!) when you archive your files do you keep them as tiffs or do you keep the raw file?

  5. Hey Guillermo,

    We always keep our raw files, as well as the final Tiff files that go through retouching. Since the working retouch files can get very large, they are backed up and handled on a separate system.

  6. Hey Jim,

    We do keep all of our raw files. In terms of workflow, a lot of the light tests/camera test get filtered out from the raw edit, but we always try to keep them. You never really know when you’ll need to reference an original capture. Hope this answers your question.

  7. Thanks Robert! What kind of system do you use to archive tiffs? Final tiffs can get huge and I reckon you guys must have a ton of them…

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