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The One Gadget Every Traveling Photographer Needs

wireless hard drive

For a few years, I played it fast-and-loose with my image files. I had no real back-up system. I had complete faith in my memory cards. But as my business grew--and as the sessions brought higher stakes--I wanted to give myself a little insurance. As I began to travel between Ohio and Maryland for weddings and family sessions, I no longer felt comfortable having just one copy of each session's photos on an SD card. I don't own a laptop (and I don't have the funds to buy one), so I needed another solution.

The WD 1TB My Passport Wireless Portable External Hard Drive was my answer. At just over $100, it's a fraction of the cost of a new laptop, and it's much smaller. If you do any traveling for your photography, whether for business or pleasure, give yourself peace-of-mind and buy this gadget.

As you can see by the scratches and scrapes on my hard drive, I use it frequently. (Yes, that's my hard drive in the featured image. I decided to do a little product shoot for this article. More on the photo at the end!)

How It Works

The hard drive has built-in WiFi, which you'll use to connect to your smartphone. You'll use the proprietary WD app to access the hard drive using its WiFi signal. The best part? There's a little slot on the side of hard drive for your SD card. Just pop your card in, run the app, select the appropriate options, and the hard drive takes care of the rest. After a few minutes, a copy of your photos will be stored on the hard drive. Instant peace-of-mind.

I don't delete my SD cards until I've gotten home and uploaded the photos to my usual workflow. The wireless hard drive is my insurance policy. While I've never had a memory card fail or get lost, the comfort I have thanks to the wireless hard drive is worth its purchase price.

The hard drive has an internal battery, so no worrying about power cords. Once it's charged, it lasts a while. After a long weekend in Maryland in which I used it for three or four big uploads, the battery was still at 80%.

If you like to edit photos on the go, you'll of course have your laptop with you, so this gadget isn't entirely necessary for someone who always has a laptop in their bag. But if you like to travel a little lighter (and don't want to bring a $1500 laptop everywhere), then this wireless hard drive is a good compromise for security and insurance.

There's really not much else to say. The WD 1TB My Passport Wireless Portable External Hard Drive is a straight-forward, valuable piece of equipment. If you do any traveling as photographer, hobbyist or pro, you should have one of these in your bag.

My Product Photo - Behind the Scenes

Why pull a stock photo when you can create your own product shot, right? I set up in my living room and had a little fun.

As you can see in my behind-the-scenes photo, I taped a white seamless roll of paper to my cabinets, let it fall over our ottoman, and propped up the hard drive on the paper. (How did I prop it up? With a clump of my kids' Play-Doh.)

I used a 1-foot-by-3-foot strip box on a light stand. With one Yongnuo 560iv on the stand and my trusty Yongnuo 560TX in my hotshoe, I snapped a few photos until I got what I wanted. I shot handheld since my shutter speed wouldn't get too low and my depth-of-field didn't require rock-steady hands.

I used my Canon 6D, Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro L lens, and I set my camera to f/8, 1/80, ISO 100. While the Yongnuo flash data isn't recorded by my Canon camera body, I'm sure it was around 1/4 power, and the flash head was zoomed as wide as it could zoom.

The last thing I'll say is to follow the advice of the real product photographers: light your background. While you may think your white seamless paper looks white on screen, it won't be unless you light it properly. When I initially uploaded my photo to this article, the entire background was a gray-blue. Not exactly what I was going for. I made some exposure adjustments to turn the background white, but I would've rather gotten the shot closer in camera. Don't be lazy like I was! Light your background.


Aaron Taylor is a stay-at-home-dad and professional portrait and product photographer. Aaron is forever blessed to be in love and married to his best friend and partner in parenting. Most of his time is spent chasing his curious, energetic kids, a three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. Aaron lives in Columbus, Ohio. Before moving to Columbus in the summer of 2016, Aaron was a high school English and Drama teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland. He spent ten years in the classroom and earned National Board Certification in English Language Arts. Give him his family, a good cup of coffee, and a homemade cookie or three, and all is right in Aaron’s world.

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