Data loss can be a real nightmare for people who make a living off of their photos. If a writer loses a story he just wrote, maybe he misses a deadline. A photographer has to deal with missed deadlines, as well as the cost and humiliation of bringing models back.

You can’t guarantee capturing the same magic you did the first time around. Freezing moments of life in time, and putting them on disk, is the kind of task that relies on your equipment working the first time.

If you’re not using offsite backup solutions to save your photos, then the sad fact is that you’re probably not getting photos back if you lose them. Preparation is the most important thing when it comes to data loss, because once images are gone it’s nearly impossible to retrieve them.

Here are a few things that you can do to keep your work safe:

1. Store Your Shots on Multiple Memory Sticks

Use smaller memory sticks than normal when you’re on a shoot. This forces you to swap your sticks out more often, and thus avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket. It’s a simple trick, but it can be a real lifesaver if one stick turns out to be damaged. Even if you lose half of your work for the day, at least this way you’ll have the other half to fall back on.

2. Keep a Laptop at the Shoot

Have a laptop handy to back up your shots immediately. It can be a little cumbersome if you like to get active and walk around a lot on a shoot, but it works well for studio and stationary shooting sessions. The idea is to get photos from your camera to your computer as quickly as possible — keeping your laptop nearby is an easy way to accomplish that.

3. Invest in a Waterproof Bag

A shoot at the beach sounds fun, right? Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with sand and water blowing into your equipment, and potentially damaging your camera and memory devices. Avoid this by using a waterproof camera bag or padded cooler. Remember, your bag isn’t just there to look neat slung around your shoulder; it’s there to keep your equipment and your work safe, no matter what. A waterproof carrying case is a great way to keep expensive lenses and equipment from being damaged while you’re out on location.

The main trick to keeping your photos and camera equipment safe is preparation. Nine times out of ten, lost photos can’t be recovered. However, you can keep them from being lost in the first place with a little planning. Get your plan together and start snappin!

Written by Allyson Bonavita: Allyson loves the outdoors almost as much as she loves writing. A New York native, Allyson studied at NYC and now freelances for technology-related clients in her spare time.