The Heartbreak of Losing a Full Memory Card
You have to stay with me on this one, because….well…you just have to read this.
In May of 2009, I came to Denver to do my Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks tour, and the day before I spent some time shooting with Jason from the Canonblogger.com. I decided to do a creative exercise to stretch myself a bit by breaking with the usual and just use one single lens; a 50mm prime lens—-that’s it. No changing lenses—just that one lens, the whole time.
We shot for hours wandering around downtown Denver and really had a great time. I mostly shot architectural type stuff—buildings, signs, patterns—stuff like you see at the top of this post. I even took some examples I could use for an upcoming book project, and all and all I really enjoyed that one lens exercise because it makes you think and work and be more creative, and not rely on your gear so much.
However, as I wrote back in May of 2009 (link), the next morning, before even getting to look at any of my photos, I not only accidentally formatted the card, but I shot right over the card with images from my seminar. When I realized this a few days later, I tried to rescue them using recovery software, but by then they had been overwritten and they were no where to be found. Uggh! It’s a heartbreaker.
Happy to forget that loss
I know I probably didn’t get anything really worthwhile that day, but knowing that you lost about 8GB of images (around 700 images) makes you feel like “I bet there was something really great in there…” and it’s the never knowing that eats at you. I had never really done that before—lost a whole shoot without backing up. I learned a good lesson from it, but every time since whenever I hear someone mention Denver, I still cringe a little as I relived my mess up. It’s how we photographers torture ourselves.
Today, I’m back in Denver with my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it Tour,” and yesterday as Brad and I were driving downtown I passed a sculpture I recognized, and the buildings beside it, and the whole “losing my images” thing came rushing back. I told Brad the whole story from beginning to end, and even he was cringing. I just couldn’t imagine how I could have done that, and seeing those areas I shot, and lost, just made it worse.
I’ll meet you in the lobby in 10 minutes
I wanted to catch an early dinner so I called Brad and said, “Let’s me in the lobby in 10 minutes.” When I come out of the elevator, Brad reaches in his shirt pocket and hands me a memory card. I said “What’s this?” He smiles and says, “Your missing Denver photos from 2009.” I was speechless. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.
It’s that whole “cleaning out my closet thing”
I’ve been doing a series of giveaways on Twitter called “Semi-useful stuff from Scott’s camera closet” and literally as I’ve been cleaning out my closet, I’ve been giving away things I haven’t been using in a while. This past Sunday I found a Swiss Army brand laptop bag I had used briefly (it still looked pretty new), and it was in such good shape that I didn’t want to throw it away, so I brought it into the office and asked Brad to see if anybody wanted it.
Well, Brad had a new laptop, and no real laptop bag so he claimed it, and showed it to me at the airport this morning. I was like “Perfect—it found a new home.” That morning, when Brad was putting his laptop and accessories in the bag, he found two of my memory cards in one of the pockets. He saw there were images on them, but he also saw they were from 2009 so he figured I had long since backed up already so he reformatted the card to use tomorrow at the seminar. However, after he heard my story, and went and used photo recovery software to see if those shots were indeed the missing shots from Denver. After looking at a few, he saw a sign in one shot that sure enough said “Denver” and he just sat there and smiled as he rescued every single image.
I was stunned.
Still am as I sit here and write this. Seriously, what are the chances? I gave him the bag yesterday, and if we weren’t in Denver, and hadn’t driven by that exact sculpture, I probably wouldn’t have ever told the story, and then tomorrow morning we would have actually overwritten that card; never having any idea those images were on it. Now, they truly would have been lost forever.
As I suspected…
The images weren’t great. Just “OK.” Nothing going in my portfolio. Nothing earth shattering, (the images you see here are the ones from the missing card). But I don’t care. I have such a sense of peace just knowing that they’re back, and that I didn’t accidentally erase them—I just misplaced them—for two and a half years. That part, doesn’t surprise me at all.
I needed a smile yesterday, and that surely gave me one. That, and a whole bunch of “I just can’t believe you found that card!” during dinner.