Memory card strategy on the wedding day

A wedding photographer friend asked me about my strategy with memory cards.

In a perfect world, you have a camera with two memory slots. I’m not sure all the models that do and don’t but my camera of choice does, the 5D Mark III. This might be something to consider when looking at your next camera upgrade.

What I do, is put in a 64GB SD card shooting either full or medium RAW. This has priority over the other slot for deleting/rating (more on that later). Then a backup JPEG going to the 32GB, normally full-JPEG. I prefer SanDisk or Sony. A 64GB Sandisk is only $35 and free shipping on Amazon Prime. Pretty hard to beat that deal.

I have shoot to the SD because they are more affordable. CF cards are still a bit pricier. A 32GB CF card is around $40-70.

If your camera only has one memory card slot, like most cameras. Two choices:

  1. A BIG card; the 64GB is my choice. RISK: If that card fails… you lose EVERYTHING.
  2. Another choice is a handful of 8GB cards. Then I’d say keep them in their original cases. Right pocket “all- RIGHT- to use” Left pocket = “LEFT alone.” If you have tossed the original cases in the trash, get a multi card case. Here is a case that is water resistant and holds both CF and SD cards –, for $20, which is pretty cheap. I prefer the hard cases vs the soft ones.

Another overall strategy I recommend; rating your photographs in camera instead of culling them down. At some point you will accidentally delete a photo while culling and rating them instead protects you from that mistake. I rate the delete photos as 1-star and the signature shots as 5-stars. When I get home I copy everything form the SD card to my computer, then again to an external hard drive. In Adobe Bridge (or Lightroom if you prefer) I then move all 1-star photos to a folder titled, you guessed it, 1-star. This is a very conservative approach but I do not see a down side. Rating photos is just as quick as deleting them, not to mention if you want to do a sneak peak, boom, just use your 5-star rated photos.

This post was created with wedding photography in mind, but honestly I use this method for everything, family photography, senior photos, event photography, etc.

Hope this was helpful!


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