How good are your habits?

Top level sportsmen get there by developing good habits

Habits

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

It is so important to develop good habits for anyone, but I am going to talk specifically about photographers. What are the habits that you NEED to develop if you want to have a photography business.  These habits also apply to amateur photographers, but the consequences, whilst heartbreaking, are not as financially crippling.

Heartbreaking, crippling – strong words.  Hype or fact – you decide.

Backups:

You must, must, must backup regularly.  How often is regularly? In my opinion it is after you have downloaded your images from a shoot.  For some that is once a week, for others that is every day and for some it is a number of times per day.  A number of times per day? I’m joking tight? NO.  I use Lightroom for editing my photos.  When I import my images into Lightroom, I tick the box that says “Make a second copy to:” and as I copy my images onto the local hard drive (I ALWAYS use copy, NEVER use move) I simultaneously make a second copy to an external hard drive.

Only then, once I have 2 copies of my files will I delete the originals from the camera.

Once a week I then backup my hard drives to another external hard drive.

You need to understand the difference between “copy” and “backup”.  In a nutshell, a copy allows you to simply copy the image and restore it wherever you like.  It is simply a copy and paste or cut and paste operation.  A backup however requires you to use a specific programme to restore your images because they are not just copies of the original.

So, make sure you do your backups regularly but also make sure you know how to restore your files.

Developing this habit was driven home to me when I lost a few hundred files.  At the time I was simply making a backup once a week and I wasn’t making a copy as I import the files.  I figured I wasn’t doing that much new work, maybe 3 or 4 shoots a week, no big deal.  Unfortunately, one night my computer went “bang” and just stopped working.  One of the shoots I lost contained some of the most popular shots I have ever taken.  I was devastated.  Not only that, but some months later I was looking for some shots from another shoot and only then realised that I had lost them as well.

Look after your gear:

Been down the beach, loving the shoot and having a great old time.  Salt, sand, wind – a good idea to give your camera and lenses a good clean afterwards.  Regular routine maintenance is a good habit to form.  Give your lenses a wipe with a soft cloth, give your camera a good clean, blow the dust out (I never use a brush or anything that is even mildly abrasive) with a blower – you can buy them at any camera store for a few dollars or you can even buy a small portable vacuum cleaner that blows – never try to suck the dust out as you risk damaging sensitive electronic equipment.

Cleaning your sensor?  You can buy a kit to do it yourself, but I prefer to get it done professionally.  Yes, it is not that hard (apparently) but I don’t want to risk causing any damage.

If you live in a tropical climate, like I do, it is a good idea to take the lenses that you don’t use all that often and put them in the sun for 15-30 minutes every week or so to stop mould and fungus growth.  One of the worst things you can do in a hot and humid climate is keep your lenses packed away in a dark cupboard – you are asking for fungus.  Then you can have a big problem with a big $$$ tag.  I once had fungus in a lens and it cost me $180 to get it cleaned.  They told me I was lucky it did not get into the lens any deeper or it would have been about $800.  Considering it was a $2,500 lens, I would have had to get it fixed.

Shoot regularly:

Sometimes you just forget to go out and shoot or decide it’s not worth the effort.  Even if you don’t have a particular project in mind make yourself go out and shoot something.  It is easy to get into the habit of NOT going out and as we all know, practise makes perfect so you want to make sure you shoot as often as you can.  I so often meet people that say “Oh it’s been so long since I took my camera out I can’t remember what to do” you want to make sure that’s not you because I assume if you are reading this post, then you are interested in photography.

Batteries:

When you come back from a shoot – put your batteries on charge straight away.  That way every time you want to go out, you know you have full batteries.  If you have a spare, use them in rotation.  If you leave a battery too long with no use, they can develop a false memory – they think they are flat when nearly fully charged.  If this does happen, discharge them completely a few times and often that will solve the problem and it happens more with older batteries.  I have a battery grip in my camera so both batteries get equal usage all the time.

Battery Grip

Battery Grip

Memory Cards:

Look after your cards – get a decent card holder so that they are not rolling around in your bag.  Even though they may be in the little plastic case that comes with the card, these end up opening if left loose in your bag and you risk damaging the card.  Apart from the cost, there is nothing worse than being in the middle of a shoot and needing to change cards and the card doesn’t work.

It is also a good idea to format your cards regularly.  Always format your cards in camera, never on your computer.  The reason is sometimes the drives are slightly differently aligned and can cause a problem.  What is the difference between deleting and formatting?  When you delete a file, you actually only delete the entry in the index and this frees that space up for another file.  This is why you can recover files even if they have been deleted unless the area of the card has been overwritten with a new file.

When you format a card, the entire index is wiped (quick format) or the individual file space is wiped (full format).  Generally, in camera you only have 1 format option and as I said before, never format your cards in the computer, always use the camera.

Some people recommend formatting every time instead of deleting.  Personally, I delete my files and then every month or so I format all my cards – a habit I’ve formed.  I don’t think it makes a huge difference whether you delete or format – if you prefer to format every time, go for it.

When it comes to cards – buy the best brand you can and buy the fastest transfer rate you can.  The faster the transfer rate, the sooner the camera will be ready for the next shot.  This is particularly noticeable when in burst mode.

Sandisk SD card

Buy the best brand you can afford

Conclusion:

Spend time developing good habits and breaking bad habits.  It is a conscious decision you need to make – bad habits tend to creep in without you noticing – normally because skipping some regular things (like backups) save a bit of time and it’s not until you have a disaster that you really appreciate the need for good habits.

Remember

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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