The following is not a question and answer section as was the original intention of the photography talk series. I however recently went through a mini data crisis of sorts, and I wanted to use this feature to highlight my failures and hopefully help others avoid my mistakes. Data backup after all, is an important part of the modern photography experience. 

I recently learned a very expensive lesson that could have easily been avoided. Without going into explicit detail, my main working hard drive in my PC was about to fail (all the signs were there) and I had gone ahead and backed up all my data before replacing it. There wasn’t much to back up, as I had a regular backup routine already in place, and all of my photos were backed up to an external USB 3.0 RAID enclosure, where I had two 2 terabyte drives running in a RAID 1 mirror. Unfortunately when I bent down to move my computer’s tower and replace the internal working drive, I forgot that the USB 3.0 enclosure was set on top, and it fell to the floor. Long story short, both hard drives were active at the time, and the impact with the floor damaged both of them mechanically. Thanks to my good friend Gordon at Fixsys labs, I was able to recover 100% of my data. But it cost me $2200 in data recovery alone (believe it or not this is in the mid range of the potential expense of this type of recovery). The point of this article is to educate you, my friends and fellow photographers on how to properly protect your mission critical data. In my case, I nearly lost all of my photography and my extensive collection hidden camera footage from the change rooms of various Wal-Marts.

Make sure you have copies of your copies copies.

You better have more than one of these or your data is at risk!

It is of crucial importance to have at least three copies of all your critical data. In my previous setup, my RAID 1 mirrored drives should have provided me with two exact copies of whatever was stored on the RAID 1 mirror. Should one drive have failed, I could have A) popped another drive into the RAID array and continued where I left off, once again having two copies or B) pulled the remaining non-damaged hard drive and put it into my system or an external enclosure to allow me to access the data (this is one of the benefits of using RAID 1). There are many people that will argue about the various different RAID setups, but as a matter of opinion and preference, I prefer the ease and simplicity of a RAID 1 mirrored array.

However since I managed to mechanically damage both drives in the external RAID enclosure at the exact same time, I was shit out of luck, and my data was gone (at least temporarily).

My system is now composed of the following storage components:

  • My C: system drive runs my operating system (Windows 7 64bit pro/ultimate) and is composed of two 100GB Vertex 2 drives in a RAID 0 Array (Raid 0 allows to drives to act as one, resulting in maximum performance
  • I have a D: drive which I use for virtual memory, and to store things like internet cache, Adobe Bridge thumbnails, the Photoshop scratch disk etc. It is a single 74gig Western Digital Raptor 10K SATA drive
  • I have purchased a new working drive, a 600GB Raptor 10k drive. When I do photo shoots, I immediately copy them to this drive, and work on them from this speedy device until I archive them later (I also backup all the camera raw files immediately after copying them to this drive, and then later update the backup with new edits and settings from the shoot etc.)
  • My first external storage unit is once again two 2 terabyte drives in a RAID 1 mirror in an external enclosure. This gives me two copies of each file should I not throw it on the floor again
  • My second (and new to me) external storage unit is a single 2 terabyte HP USB 3.0 drive, which makes a back up of the photos stored on the first external enclosure

This now gives me a minimum of three copies of all of my photos (one on each drive in the RAID 1 mirror, one replica of those files on the single 2 Terabyte external enclosure). In the case of my most recently shot photos that I may still be working on, I have a fourth running copy on my 600GB Raptor 10k internal drive. This may seem excessive to some, but I have spent literally hundreds of hours of my time creating these photographs, and given that they sell quite well at art shows (and soon online) how could I possibly risk losing them? I was lucky to have not lost them the first time, and it cost me $2200 (plus the cost of the new hard drives). What’s more is that I’m not even done outlining proper backup procedure yet.

I am currently in the process of finding an online backup service to store the final high resolution edits of all of my photos. It is absolutely crucial to keep a backup of your critical data somewhere off site in the case of a fire or robbery. When I finally narrow it down and choose such a service, I will be certain to update this article.

It was important for me to write about this, as I wouldn’t wish what I’ve gone through lately on anyone. It is debilitating watching gigabytes upon gigabytes of vagina’s disappear before your very eyes. I got lucky and with the help of some charming experts, was able to recover (snatch?) every last one. You however may not be so lucky. I implore you, take data backup seriously, and come up with an effective plan today. Mechanical failure of sensitive computer components is an in-exact and unpredictable science. Whatever it costs you today to make copies of your files, it will cost you ten times as much to have them professional recovered tomorrow. The rule of thumb is three copies of each file you need as a minimum, with one of the copies stored off site.

Lesson Learned. I hope this helps someone out there prepare for the worst and avoid the mistakes I’ve recently made.


I was saddened to read the news this morning of Kodak’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This of course comes as no surprise to anyhow, still for many, the news is hard to swallow. The digital revolution is upon us in a very big way, and has been for a little over a decade now. Without question, Digital has killed the celluloid star. Progress like this is of course inevitable, but a recent upsurge in the film movement would perhaps refer to it as regress. I’ve purchased and made use of new-era instant film from The Impossible Project. I even returned to an old Canon A1 film camera and roll of Ilford 3200 ISO black and white, which I still have a dozen or so exposures left on. Hipsters have recently forced the arrival of a low-budget film camera revolution. However as previously stated, this major shift in the photographic paradigm has been inevitable for years, and today is the first last day of Kodak’s life. Barring something miraculous, today is Kodak’s last moment. I’m not sure anyone could say it better than David Gonzalez of the New York Times.

RIP Eastman Kodak


14May

Addendum

Remember a while back when I posted this? Well there has been much confusion since. Many of you have inquired about me taking pictures of your lady friend but have shown concerns that you aren’t married to her. So let me make it perfectly clear:

Wife, Girlfriend or whoever the hell you’re banging, if you send her to me with an envelope of cash rest assured I will take her picture.

money bag


Several months back I was going through a morning routine I had gone through so many times before: checking photography equipment and packing it up to transfer to a location shoot. Realizing that I was missing my all important portable battery pack, I swung by my warehouse photo studio/office to check to see if that’s where I left it. Heading up the four flights of stairs I slowly began hearing noises I shouldn’t have been hearing. As I neared the entrance to my slice of warehouse heaven, it became clear to me that I wasn’t alone.

And that’s when I met psychs.

He had illegally accessed my warehouse space to play some sort of twisted role-playing game with his then girlfriend. You know how some couples like to play Doctor and Nurse? Well they were playing circus clown and gullible school girl. In an abandoned warehouse. It was a super sexy game and I knew immediately we were like minded. Yet I played the role of tough guy, and told them I’d call the police if they didn’t let me take pictures of them in action. This worked out favorably for me, as I went on to win several awards for those photos, but more importantly a friendship was formed.

 


07Mar

iPhone Photos – Veronica

“Can you help me sir?” she said.

“Of course I can, but you have to help me first” was my retort.

“I’ll do anything” she said.

“Take your pants off.”

And she did. *click* *click* *click*

“Now can you help me sir?” she begged.

“I don’t even work here lady. Get lost.”


01Mar

Birthday Party 2011

Being a leap year baby, I generally only celebrate my birthday once every four years. This not only keeps me youthful, it allows me to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to myself which has always been a main priority for me. So as many of you probably saw on Twitter last night, I planned a nice little party of one, at home alone with a bottle of Jack and a few Vicodin’s.

And then my door buzzer rang.

So there were seven of my closest friends encouraging me to snap the fuck out of it and party with them. They brought cake, balloons, champagne, party favors, edible body paint, binoculars, a police siren, cap guns, candy bra and panties and Mardi Gras beads.

Then they took their clothes off. I have such great and wonderful friends. Who knew a birthday party could involve so many outfit changes?

And get this, they said they’d only stay if I took pictures of the nonsense. I didn’t mind, since that’s what I do. So here’s what happened *click*



24Feb

iPhone Photos – Lilah

Such a sweet young thing, that Lilah. So I says to her I says “What’s a sweet young thing like you doing locked in the basement of a one hundred and fifty year old school just days before its torn to shreds by a construction crew?”

And before she could respond I said “You know what? It doesn’t matter, take your pants off.”

And she did.

*click*


24Feb

Noted on Notabletv.com

For anyone that missed me (and all the other out of this world artists) at overXXXposed 2 last week, the awesome (and noteworthy) online magazine Noteable put up a fantastic review of the show. You can read it here.


23Feb

Photos: April

April was a good woman. That statement being past-tense, it is quite likely that she still is a good woman. I met her while she was using the toilet at one of the industrial warehouse complexes I break into use for my shoots. She was in a jam we’ve all been in. Her hand appeared under the stall and she politely asked the person next to her (unbeknown to her, it was me!) for some paper. I told her I could do one better *click*. How about I take *click* your picture?

When she finally finished screaming we really hit it off. And so I took more pictures. I look forward to shooting her again some day. Here’s a sample of our magic:


16Feb

Tired of your wife?

Tired of your wife?

Send her to me, with an envelope of money. I’ll take pictures of her, and then send them to you.

Presto!

You’ll be having sex again. With her.

Click here to apply.