Quick Tip: Never Forget Your Memory Card Again - Digital Photography School
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Quick Tip: Never Forget Your Memory Card Again

IMGP0823It finally happened. Recently I became a victim to one of the most heinous errors any digital photographer can make. I left behind all my digital memory cards.

Not just one. I own maybe a dozen. I left them all behind. You see, seven were set aside after a recent trip to Peru until I ensure all the images had been copied from the travel laptop to the network attached storage and then to the desktop. One was sitting beside my Mac for no apparent reason. Another was in the card reader from another late night project the day before. Four others were in their case in a different camera bag (testing bags as often as I do, it seems something always gets left behind).

Long story short: I had a beautiful view of Mt. Baker in the Washington Cascades, bright and stark against the gray clouds behind it. I was on a ferry boat and no chance to run home. I was out of luck.

From that experience I came up with two tips I hope will help you never have to see “No Card” when you least want to.

Tip #1: Post-It Notes Can Save The Day

When I speak of Post-It Notes, I don’t mean leave yourself yet another note that gets lost in the pile of notes on your desk or around your monitor. I mean take a standard sized Post-It Note and cut it in half. One of those is your backup note. Take the other note and place it, right now, on the slot where your main card is not. If your main card is in your camera at the moment, put the note on your card reader (if you have more than one reader, put the spare note on that one too). If the card is in your reader, place the note over your camera’s card door (I’d advise against placing it inside to prevent part of the note ripping off and becoming stuck in the card or battery slot).

This way, when it’s time to take the card out of the camera and download into a computer, you simply take the Post-It off the reader and place it on the camera. I tend to close my camera’s card door for fear of if being hit and broken off. This note lets me close the door and not have to wonder. It’s not a fool-proof method (the note, once used too often, can simply fall off), but it helps.

Tip #2: Carry A Spare You Never Use

A lot of camera bags now have holders for spare cards, sometimes two. I used to scoff at these as I carry far more than two cards in separate LowePro hard cases. But before my last trip I decided to buy a couple more cards and store them in such a pocket. I’m glad I did as I was faced with the “No Card” message again. That time, all I did was pop open the velcro pocket and drop my spare card into the camera.

Otherwise, if I don’t have such a pocket in my current test bag, I will leave one of my two hard cases with one to four cards inside my travel bag.

Don’t be a (sometimes) idiot like me. Make sure you always know if your camera is ready for shooting.

Disclaimer: It took me 10 years of shooting digitally before I made this mistake. I hope you never have to experience it! Speaking of which, do you have any other tricks you would suggest readers try?

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Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • Judith

    I do the same as dbphotos, carry a spare in my wallet. A tiny pouch that attaches to your key chain also works (who leaves home without their keys?). Also, if your camera has the ability to take a “preview” shot without a memory card in it, turn off that option. Then always fire off one shot before putting the camera in your bag. If there is no card in the camera, you won’t be able to take a picture.

  • Reinhard Schimek

    This reminds me of a trip that I took @ Yosemite National Park. It was the first day of trip going to the park, and notice that I could not find my memory cards. I knew I had them, I got frustrated because I thought I might have lost them when I took my gps out at the rental place.
    Then I remembered that I had a memory card in my mp3 and took it out and use it. Thank God I did or I would have lost a lot of good photos that day. By the way, I found the rest of my memory cards underneath my hotel bed….

  • Sherry

    I have a small case from Adorama that holds 2 extra batteries and half a dozen cards (I put my remote control in one of those slots) and it always goes with me no matter which bag I take. I learned the hard way also..lol.

  • Scrappy

    I never ever close up my camera without a memory card. I usually have 3 on the go, but I always make sure that I replace a card immediately if I take it out.

  • Karen K

    I had a similar problem with forgetting my charger. Luckily, we were headed to Hilton Head Island, I had my iPad with me and I was able to stop at a Starbucks(free wifi) look up photography stored in google, and locate the store on google maps! Now, that second charger stays in the bag I take on trips…

  • Average Joe

    I only have/need one card as of now, but if I had multiple, I’d probably swap them each time I upload, so there’d always be a card in the camera.

  • Dave Tedoni

    Just happened my very first time. When?? ON NEW YEARS EVE!!!! Sure, when I take my regular camera bag there are extras in there. But I switched bags to have a smaller backpack because it was a night of outside events and fireworks with big crowds.

    When I got home that evening, I placed one in my WALLET. It is always with me. Ah, the days when the condom use to go there. Now a Memory Card. How ironic. ;-)

  • http://www.marcanthonyphoto.com Marc Matteo

    I have the iPhone 4S with Siri. I set a reminder for the day of an event.

  • http://www.marcanthonyphoto.com Marc Matteo

    I have the iPhone 4S with Siri. I set a reminder for the day of an event.

  • Monnie Fishel

    I just keep an extra card in my purse. I have a zippered section that I drop a card into. For the men, you could put one in your wallet. Most of the memory cards are small and thin, they should fit in a wallet.

  • Pilgrim

    change the camera setting so that you CAN’T shoot without a card – and, ahem, I believe that we ALL have done it – which is why I changed the setting!

  • HTroy

    That’s quiet a nightmare to think about. Right now I only have one Memory Card to use since I transfer the pictures immediately into the computer after taking them. But since this article gave me an idea, I will definitely buy an extra one.

  • Ann Marie

    I have a small card holder which I keep a memory card in and keep it clipped to my camera.

  • http://kellyeclectic.com Kelly

    Why not, since you have multiple cards, always put a blank card in the camera when you take one out? That way you don’t have to worry about putting the card you may still have pictures on back in the camera before heading back out to shoot. Plus you cycle through your cards, evening out the amount of use they all get (theoretically anyway)?

    Just a thought.

  • Glenn

    I think it was fortunate that this happened for you. Always found that the question I missed on an exam, is the answer I always remember. This occurrence will always be in your mind now, so hopefully it won’t happen again.

    Having been raised in a Boy Scout family, the motto “Be Prepared” has always been ingrained in me, so in each camera bag, I’ve always have extra charged batteries and several cards, to cover that “just in case” moment. It may seem to be overkill at the time, each time I’ve gotten a new camera, I always get at least one if not two extra batteries and cards, keeping them in the bag with that camera. Before going anywhere I think I might possibly take some shots, I check everything in the bag – making sure batteries are charged. So far, I’ve never had a problem yet.

  • Jill

    Instead of sticky notes why not just replace it a soon as you take it out?

  • Julie

    Just had the same thing happen to me!!! I took my grandson to a corn maze and fall festival (may be our last one – long story) and started snapping away when I realized there was no card in the camera!! I missed a lot of beautiful shots and memories. I now have my camera set to disable the shutter unless there is a card in it, I don’t close the memory door unless there is a card in it and every time I pick up my camera is has become routine to check the slot.

  • kari

    Can’t say i have ever forgotten my card, have the shutter set so that it can’t take pics. For the past year i have only had one card and battery, and i take lots of pics still new to photography but last three months over 3000 pics. Good Tips, im sure if i had multiple cards you would forget. For the list person who said they forget stuff your overthinking that is why your forget. Have a great Day.

  • Marlo Casabar

    As an airline pilot, we use checklists in all major phases of flights – keeps us from making a mistake, even though we have thousands of hours in that airplnce.

    I use the same idea for my photography shoots. I have a checklist of items along with things to do – charge batteries, set w/b, etc.

    The night before I lay everything out and just put things in the car the next morning.

    Now, this isn’t fail safe, I forgot a tripod once, but it was because I didn’t follow the checklist the night before. Thankfully that shoot was only 10 minutes from home.

  • http://www.dandenong-ranges-photography.com.au/blog/ Kathie M Thomas

    I have a very simple tip that works for me – I leave the card door open on my camera when the card is out. I do have spares and carry them but I live in fear of forgetting a card. This works for me – I see the door is open and know immediately it has no card in the camera.

  • Shaun McGuire Photography

    My personal choice is old full card out and replaced by new empty card. This was my camera always has a card in it to avoid problems.

    Plus like you say plenty of spares in the bag.

  • http://thephotographerblog.com Mandy

    I did this the other day…

    I wanted to take some shots of my DSLR, so grabbed my old point and shoot (that I don’t use often) and took a few shots….

    ….later on I went to get the card out to put on my laptop – no card! – it had taken the shots on the internal memory…

    …ok not a disaster? where’s the lead for the camera? ……disaster…..

    so much for my new year resolution to shoot more!!!!

  • http://MandenoMoments.com/ Mandeno Moments

    1) A SD card is small enough to store in a wallet, although it may get bent and broken if your wallet lives in your back pocket.

    2) A card that’s in a plastic case (get cases on Ebay) can be duct taped to a camera strap.

    3) One pocket of my main camera bag is solely for items that I take on *every* shoot (if you use more than one camera bag you could put them in a pencil case or similar). If my main camera bag isn’t going out with me I scoop everything out of that pocket and put it in a pouch that goes with me; knowing that I have to take *everything* from one pocket is what makes it work for me. These items are: spare batteries, spare card, polarising filters, filter wrenches, cable release, and spirit level. For me this system means that I all the essential small items are in one place and always go out with me.

    4) With my carry-everywhere camera the list of essential spares is shorter: two spare batteries and a spare card are always with me. A polarising filter will be added when I get an adapter.

  • Rich

    I always take a bottle of water and a piece of fruit (banana usually) with me when I go on shoots. The night before the shoot, right after I do my visualization exercises, I tape a SD card right to the piece of fruit that I am going to take so that there is no way that I will not have a card when I need it.

  • Adrian

    I’m usually good at checking and testing everything but last week I went on a casual shoot with my bag of lenses, tripod, two flashes and several memory cards. I arrived at my destination and discovered that I had forgotten to bring my camera!!!!

  • Will Dochertaigh

    I have three 2gb cards that I don’t use stored in an out of the way pocket of my bag. If my eight primary cards happen to stay home I’ve got spare 6gb as a back up.
    I store a battery in another pocket and rotate them when charged, always returning a battery to that location. But alas, what if I forget to charge them? Yep, happened once, I doubt I’ll ever forget again!!

  • http://fsphotographystudio.com Rs

    I ran into this problem as well. What i do now more often then not is keep my memory card in the camera and only take it out to put it into the card reader so then i can upload my photos to my desktop.

  • John

    As we get better at something we tend to rush. Better to check camera and equipment every time you get ready to use it, and then put everything away properly when finsihed. Somewhat redundant, but it’s a lot better than being on site unprepared (looking unprepared in front of a client – REALLY bad).

  • Curt

    On Christmas I was at friends, and had planned on taking pictures…. but like you, I forgot my SD card and my spare at home. There was a guy there with a film camera, and he was making serious fun of me for forgetting my memory cards. I pointed out to him that if he forgot his film, he would be totally screwed, but that it was quite likely that either the home owner or another guest would have a SD card I could use for a while. Sure enough….. I borrowed one, took my pics, downloaded them to the home owner’s PC, and returned the SD card. No problem!

  • http://www.facebook.com/IndigoBluez IndigoBluez

    I have a spare 1GB Card which i got long time back with my digicam. Clicking a few pictures at home itself also assures the equipment to be in place.

  • http://nickwoodrowphotography.co.uk Nick Woodrow

    Hey! You know the blank photo keyfobs you can buy, an SD card fits inside just great. And put it on your most carried keys. You will need a sharp objects to prise it open though! Just tried it..

  • Bill Murray

    I won’t say how many times this happened to me. I realized i needed a “no-brainer” method to avoid this problem.
    I leave a card in the reader I use to upload my pictures. When I take the card from my camera to upload new pictures, I have to remove the card that is currently in the reader. I put thiscard (the one from my computer) into my camera. I have not made what use to be a chronic mistake again.

  • Legoman

    To add to the list of idea/advice, my personal one is just to leave the compartment door(s) of the camera open until whatever I removed from it is replaced. So when I pick up the camera I know right away if something is missing. Though i’d only recommend this for really short periods of time with the camera is in a safe spot.

  • SnapperCap

    I know Peter West Carey already knows about a product that I’ve been working on that solves the missing card or even just full memory card problem. I’d like to leave a post here for people who don’t know about this new product called the Snapper Cap™. The Snapper Cap™ is a brand new kind of lens cap that is specifically designed to store a pre-formatted back-up memory card in the camera lens cap. This ensures that there will always be a working memory card with the camera at all times. Even a generic 8gb memory card ($7,99 & B&H) makes a reliable back-up that is always ready at a moments notice. It’s 100& safe to use and it’s basically the same dimensions as a traditional center pinch lens cap. Lets face it, it’s time that the world has a better lens cap, one that can do a lot more than just protect the camera lens! Please check http://www.facebook.com/snappercap or http://www.snappercap.com for more information.

Some older comments

  • Legoman

    January 5, 2013 08:59 am

    To add to the list of idea/advice, my personal one is just to leave the compartment door(s) of the camera open until whatever I removed from it is replaced. So when I pick up the camera I know right away if something is missing. Though i'd only recommend this for really short periods of time with the camera is in a safe spot.

  • Bill Murray

    January 5, 2013 07:59 am

    I won't say how many times this happened to me. I realized i needed a "no-brainer" method to avoid this problem.
    I leave a card in the reader I use to upload my pictures. When I take the card from my camera to upload new pictures, I have to remove the card that is currently in the reader. I put thiscard (the one from my computer) into my camera. I have not made what use to be a chronic mistake again.

  • Nick Woodrow

    December 30, 2012 06:01 am

    Hey! You know the blank photo keyfobs you can buy, an SD card fits inside just great. And put it on your most carried keys. You will need a sharp objects to prise it open though! Just tried it..

  • IndigoBluez

    January 19, 2012 02:30 pm

    I have a spare 1GB Card which i got long time back with my digicam. Clicking a few pictures at home itself also assures the equipment to be in place.

  • Curt

    January 19, 2012 01:59 pm

    On Christmas I was at friends, and had planned on taking pictures.... but like you, I forgot my SD card and my spare at home. There was a guy there with a film camera, and he was making serious fun of me for forgetting my memory cards. I pointed out to him that if he forgot his film, he would be totally screwed, but that it was quite likely that either the home owner or another guest would have a SD card I could use for a while. Sure enough..... I borrowed one, took my pics, downloaded them to the home owner's PC, and returned the SD card. No problem!

  • John

    January 18, 2012 09:59 am

    As we get better at something we tend to rush. Better to check camera and equipment every time you get ready to use it, and then put everything away properly when finsihed. Somewhat redundant, but it's a lot better than being on site unprepared (looking unprepared in front of a client - REALLY bad).

  • Rs

    January 18, 2012 06:42 am

    I ran into this problem as well. What i do now more often then not is keep my memory card in the camera and only take it out to put it into the card reader so then i can upload my photos to my desktop.

  • Will Dochertaigh

    January 17, 2012 01:00 am

    I have three 2gb cards that I don't use stored in an out of the way pocket of my bag. If my eight primary cards happen to stay home I've got spare 6gb as a back up.
    I store a battery in another pocket and rotate them when charged, always returning a battery to that location. But alas, what if I forget to charge them? Yep, happened once, I doubt I'll ever forget again!!

  • Adrian

    January 16, 2012 10:43 pm

    I'm usually good at checking and testing everything but last week I went on a casual shoot with my bag of lenses, tripod, two flashes and several memory cards. I arrived at my destination and discovered that I had forgotten to bring my camera!!!!

  • Rich

    January 16, 2012 12:13 pm

    I always take a bottle of water and a piece of fruit (banana usually) with me when I go on shoots. The night before the shoot, right after I do my visualization exercises, I tape a SD card right to the piece of fruit that I am going to take so that there is no way that I will not have a card when I need it.

  • Mandeno Moments

    January 15, 2012 10:55 pm

    1) A SD card is small enough to store in a wallet, although it may get bent and broken if your wallet lives in your back pocket.

    2) A card that's in a plastic case (get cases on Ebay) can be duct taped to a camera strap.

    3) One pocket of my main camera bag is solely for items that I take on *every* shoot (if you use more than one camera bag you could put them in a pencil case or similar). If my main camera bag isn't going out with me I scoop everything out of that pocket and put it in a pouch that goes with me; knowing that I have to take *everything* from one pocket is what makes it work for me. These items are: spare batteries, spare card, polarising filters, filter wrenches, cable release, and spirit level. For me this system means that I all the essential small items are in one place and always go out with me.

    4) With my carry-everywhere camera the list of essential spares is shorter: two spare batteries and a spare card are always with me. A polarising filter will be added when I get an adapter.

  • Mandy

    January 15, 2012 08:59 am

    I did this the other day...

    I wanted to take some shots of my DSLR, so grabbed my old point and shoot (that I don't use often) and took a few shots....

    ....later on I went to get the card out to put on my laptop - no card! - it had taken the shots on the internal memory...

    ...ok not a disaster? where's the lead for the camera? ......disaster.....

    so much for my new year resolution to shoot more!!!!

  • Shaun McGuire Photography

    January 14, 2012 11:27 am

    My personal choice is old full card out and replaced by new empty card. This was my camera always has a card in it to avoid problems.

    Plus like you say plenty of spares in the bag.

  • Kathie M Thomas

    January 14, 2012 10:03 am

    I have a very simple tip that works for me - I leave the card door open on my camera when the card is out. I do have spares and carry them but I live in fear of forgetting a card. This works for me - I see the door is open and know immediately it has no card in the camera.

  • Marlo Casabar

    January 14, 2012 08:52 am

    As an airline pilot, we use checklists in all major phases of flights - keeps us from making a mistake, even though we have thousands of hours in that airplnce.

    I use the same idea for my photography shoots. I have a checklist of items along with things to do - charge batteries, set w/b, etc.

    The night before I lay everything out and just put things in the car the next morning.

    Now, this isn't fail safe, I forgot a tripod once, but it was because I didn't follow the checklist the night before. Thankfully that shoot was only 10 minutes from home.

  • kari

    January 14, 2012 05:28 am

    Can't say i have ever forgotten my card, have the shutter set so that it can't take pics. For the past year i have only had one card and battery, and i take lots of pics still new to photography but last three months over 3000 pics. Good Tips, im sure if i had multiple cards you would forget. For the list person who said they forget stuff your overthinking that is why your forget. Have a great Day.

  • Julie

    January 14, 2012 01:03 am

    Just had the same thing happen to me!!! I took my grandson to a corn maze and fall festival (may be our last one - long story) and started snapping away when I realized there was no card in the camera!! I missed a lot of beautiful shots and memories. I now have my camera set to disable the shutter unless there is a card in it, I don't close the memory door unless there is a card in it and every time I pick up my camera is has become routine to check the slot.

  • Jill

    January 14, 2012 12:03 am

    Instead of sticky notes why not just replace it a soon as you take it out?

  • Glenn

    January 13, 2012 11:29 pm

    I think it was fortunate that this happened for you. Always found that the question I missed on an exam, is the answer I always remember. This occurrence will always be in your mind now, so hopefully it won't happen again.

    Having been raised in a Boy Scout family, the motto "Be Prepared" has always been ingrained in me, so in each camera bag, I've always have extra charged batteries and several cards, to cover that "just in case" moment. It may seem to be overkill at the time, each time I've gotten a new camera, I always get at least one if not two extra batteries and cards, keeping them in the bag with that camera. Before going anywhere I think I might possibly take some shots, I check everything in the bag - making sure batteries are charged. So far, I've never had a problem yet.

  • Kelly

    January 13, 2012 10:37 pm

    Why not, since you have multiple cards, always put a blank card in the camera when you take one out? That way you don't have to worry about putting the card you may still have pictures on back in the camera before heading back out to shoot. Plus you cycle through your cards, evening out the amount of use they all get (theoretically anyway)?

    Just a thought.

  • Ann Marie

    January 13, 2012 09:35 pm

    I have a small card holder which I keep a memory card in and keep it clipped to my camera.

  • HTroy

    January 13, 2012 08:07 pm

    That's quiet a nightmare to think about. Right now I only have one Memory Card to use since I transfer the pictures immediately into the computer after taking them. But since this article gave me an idea, I will definitely buy an extra one.

  • Pilgrim

    January 13, 2012 04:31 pm

    change the camera setting so that you CAN'T shoot without a card - and, ahem, I believe that we ALL have done it - which is why I changed the setting!

  • Monnie Fishel

    January 13, 2012 02:19 pm

    I just keep an extra card in my purse. I have a zippered section that I drop a card into. For the men, you could put one in your wallet. Most of the memory cards are small and thin, they should fit in a wallet.

  • Marc Matteo

    January 13, 2012 02:13 pm

    I have the iPhone 4S with Siri. I set a reminder for the day of an event.

  • Marc Matteo

    January 13, 2012 02:13 pm

    I have the iPhone 4S with Siri. I set a reminder for the day of an event.

  • Dave Tedoni

    January 13, 2012 01:48 pm

    Just happened my very first time. When?? ON NEW YEARS EVE!!!! Sure, when I take my regular camera bag there are extras in there. But I switched bags to have a smaller backpack because it was a night of outside events and fireworks with big crowds.

    When I got home that evening, I placed one in my WALLET. It is always with me. Ah, the days when the condom use to go there. Now a Memory Card. How ironic. ;-)

  • Average Joe

    January 13, 2012 01:27 pm

    I only have/need one card as of now, but if I had multiple, I'd probably swap them each time I upload, so there'd always be a card in the camera.

  • Karen K

    January 13, 2012 12:30 pm

    I had a similar problem with forgetting my charger. Luckily, we were headed to Hilton Head Island, I had my iPad with me and I was able to stop at a Starbucks(free wifi) look up photography stored in google, and locate the store on google maps! Now, that second charger stays in the bag I take on trips...

  • Scrappy

    January 13, 2012 11:45 am

    I never ever close up my camera without a memory card. I usually have 3 on the go, but I always make sure that I replace a card immediately if I take it out.

  • Sherry

    January 13, 2012 10:36 am

    I have a small case from Adorama that holds 2 extra batteries and half a dozen cards (I put my remote control in one of those slots) and it always goes with me no matter which bag I take. I learned the hard way also..lol.

  • Reinhard Schimek

    January 13, 2012 08:59 am

    This reminds me of a trip that I took @ Yosemite National Park. It was the first day of trip going to the park, and notice that I could not find my memory cards. I knew I had them, I got frustrated because I thought I might have lost them when I took my gps out at the rental place.
    Then I remembered that I had a memory card in my mp3 and took it out and use it. Thank God I did or I would have lost a lot of good photos that day. By the way, I found the rest of my memory cards underneath my hotel bed....

  • Judith

    January 13, 2012 08:35 am

    I do the same as dbphotos, carry a spare in my wallet. A tiny pouch that attaches to your key chain also works (who leaves home without their keys?). Also, if your camera has the ability to take a "preview" shot without a memory card in it, turn off that option. Then always fire off one shot before putting the camera in your bag. If there is no card in the camera, you won't be able to take a picture.

  • Terry Straehley

    January 13, 2012 07:09 am

    Your story strikes a note with me. Several times I have left cards in the card reader and then found when I needed to take pictures the dreaded "No Card" message. I try to take them out religiously and I check the camera and battery before I take it out. On long trips, I have two 500GB drives to transfer my day's shots to so that I can format my cards each night.

  • BreAna

    January 13, 2012 07:08 am

    I keep an extra in a little Sandisk case attatched to my camera strap. After forgetting my cards once, I had to make sure it will never happen again :-)

  • Peggy Sullivan

    January 13, 2012 05:48 am

    That is just ONE of the things I love about the Nikon D7000 - 2 card slots. Be sure and don't take both out at the same time and you have it made!

  • jim gray

    January 13, 2012 04:31 am

    my 2nd and 3rd cameras use the same battery and card as my 1st....If I am carrying only one camera, I can always fall back on a memory card that STAYS in my wallet! Funny thing,though, ever since I started carrying a card in my wallet, I haven't forgotten my "camera" card....

  • marc

    January 13, 2012 04:15 am

    might sound silly, but take one of those soft card holders and velcro it to the bottom on your camera, far from the tripod mount. You'll get some goofy looks but not nearly the kind of looks you will get if you forgot your memory card holder. Obviously this will not work if you are using a spare batter pack.

  • Acierman

    January 13, 2012 03:39 am

    i took my camera strap off from my cameras and put new ones with a pocket in the strap ...i always have 2 in each strap ...plus a few in each camera bag ...in the 3 years ive been doing photography semi pro it has yet to happen to me ...but im sure it will at some day in my life ...but thanks for sharing this

  • DBPhotos

    January 13, 2012 03:35 am

    Being female, I always keep one of the extra cards in my purse with my driver's license. Doesn't take up much space and is always with me when I leave the house......

  • Oleg March

    January 13, 2012 02:54 am

    A card! I forgot my 4x5 case on 1 of my first shoots. Try to carry a second set as a back up.

  • Jason

    January 13, 2012 02:53 am

    A related gaffe is that many cameras will happily snap photos without a card in place. Once I grabbed the camera to take some shots of the family waterskiing. Got lots of "great shots", but came back to find the card slot empty! I changed the camera to not shoot without a card in place immediately! I guess this isn't the "default" mode so it's easy to set up demos in stores, but it should be!

  • Kevin Peoples

    January 13, 2012 02:08 am

    Maybe it's my OCD, but I have to keep a card on me at all times, even without my camera. Thankfully I currently use sd's and not cf. I keep it in my wallet, and it's only there for emergencies.

  • Deb Scally

    January 13, 2012 01:48 am

    These are all such good suggestions. Great, practical post and discussion group!

  • John Deir

    January 13, 2012 01:25 am

    A second battery charger in ones bag or vehicle which works off the cigarette lighter or better, get a converter to convert 12V to 120V for charging. I have a lot of DeWalt 18v batteries I've used during my construction days and could charge them this way in the field. Now they are used for my outside lighting situation and camping.

  • Richard MacDonald

    January 13, 2012 01:18 am

    Everyone carries a wallet or purse. Just keep a spare there. And don't forget to rotate your cards.

  • MadisonRaine

    January 13, 2012 01:02 am

    I only own three memorys cards but am loaning one out. they are all different sides. I have put them into my laptop and forgot to put them back into my case and then gone out to go take photos, it was so upsetting =(
    I normally try to always put it back into my case, but notes are normally very helpful.

    @ Acatoy that is quite smart!

  • shedra

    January 13, 2012 12:59 am

    I have forgotten my cards a few times, but luckily I was pretty close to home. But what I started doing was this:
    I purchased a SanDisk zippered case (about the size of a family sized tea bag) . It has a ring type clip on it...but I put a small clip on it, allowing meto attach it tomycamera strap or a keychain, or just toss it in your vehicle .....I have a couple 8GB cards in it that I try not to ever use...but keep in there on the occassion should I forget mine. Any place where you buy photo equipment and/or accessories ....should carry some of these small card holders...

    Here is a picture of mine...but I put a small clip on mine instead of this ring clip

    http://shedra.smugmug.com/Other/Miscellaneous/16104003_KB494t#!i=1669116840&k=VHGDhx9

  • Jürgen

    January 13, 2012 12:20 am

    Obviously, the card you never use must live in a little pocket sewn in the neck strap. You don't leave home without your neck strap attached to your camera, do you?

  • Acatoy

    January 13, 2012 12:10 am

    my solution is "never take out de memory card out of camera", i using a EYE-Fi memory card, this memory card use wifi network to tranfer de pictures to may pc or my picassa acount...

    :D

    sorry my english.

  • Deb Scally

    January 12, 2012 11:40 pm

    Man, we have all been there. My worst case was leaving for a 10 day trip to London/Paris without my backup batteries OR charger. Yes, 6 months of planning and yet the dumbest mistake! Photography is nothing if not humbling at times! So after sweating through 4 days of shooting and praying my charge would last, I finally located a Jessops in London that carried my battery. The good folks there were nice enough to take pity on me and charge my purchase in a spare charger, too... so I managed to squeak through the trip with about 1800 shots on two batteries. Whew!

  • Rodolfo Borges

    January 12, 2012 11:06 pm

    When I take the card from the camera, I just leave the slot cover opened, so I'll notice if I try to get the camera before placing it back.

  • Richard Taylor

    January 12, 2012 10:59 pm

    Remove a card from your camera: - replace it always

  • Marton

    January 12, 2012 10:49 pm

    Call me paranoid, but I always make sure I have a backup of everíthing and a backup if the backup fails by chance. If you prepare with different methods for every situation, you can always combine them in the MacGuyver way.

    Memory cards: First of all, my card reader in my PC can't read cards bigger than 2GB. Since I have all 4GB cards except one, removing cards from my camera is hardly possible, so I copy them into Lightroom straight form the camera. One of my cards is a micro SD with an adapter. In case I was lazy to copy my images from the last session and empty the card, I can still use the micro SD from my phone with the adapter in my camera. Better losing some music collection that I also have at home than missing the moment. Another card is usually sitting in my wallet among the coins, for superstitious purposes.

    Battery: The usual routine of copying files includes checking my battery power. My portrait grip can accept 2 batteries. While I copy files, I remove one battery which is in worse shape, set it in the charger in the kitchen, on the top of my microwave, 'cause that's the closest empty outlet I can reach. No problem, the other one can still hold on for a shorter session if I forget the battery in the charger.

  • Fuzzypiggy

    January 12, 2012 07:44 pm

    Recently planned a photo trip away for 4 days in a remote location. Charged my batteries, charged the spare set too. Packed everything in the rented car, checked and double checked it all. Drove 400 miles to my chosen remote desitination and after 10 mins of shooting realised I have forgotten the bloody battery charger!!!

    I panicked, called my wife back home she said the charger was on the kitchen worktop where I have left it! There followed 2 hours of careful planning on how I would make my batteries last. I got back to the hotel room and started looking for camera shops within 50 miles and caught a glimpse of my 5D's battery grip in a web picture showing me the supplied AA battery holder. I had completely forgotten about that little addon Canon give you when you buy a battery grip! Phew!!

    I walked over the road from the hotel to an allnight garage and bought 24 AA batteries to use just in case I needed them in and emergency!

  • k

    January 12, 2012 06:23 pm

    Didn't happen to me yet coz I always check my memory card slot but the other week, I forgot my camera battery. I left it on the camera charger. I guess after that incident, I'll always check my memory card and battery. Haha!

  • najeem

    January 12, 2012 05:58 pm

    I got three memory cards. Two that i use regularly and one that always stays in my camera bag (for those days when i land up in a similar situation as you had :) )
    and for the ones that i use regularly, i only have two places to put them, inside the camera or inside the card reader. so when i take one out frm the camera, the other automatically goes in!

  • Aaron @ Become A Photographer

    January 12, 2012 05:47 pm

    Definitely a tough lesson to learn! It hasn't happened to me... yet. I have, however, erased my CF cards before backing them up a few times :)

    I think the best bet is to always have a spare in your bag, and never go shooting without the bag. That way you are covered.

  • julski

    January 12, 2012 01:43 pm

    pentax lets you place an extra card in the battery grip along with the remote trigger

  • Dee Dee

    January 12, 2012 01:26 pm

    I never leave home without shooting anything to make sure that the card and the battery are there :D So I have dozens of photos that I can't describe :D

  • Alex P.

    January 12, 2012 01:13 pm

    I agree with Amanda and others. Everytime I go to download the photos from the compact flash I leave the CF door open. I also do the same with the battery. I also like to keep my extra CF cards in the bag and only remove when I take care of the CF in the camera.

    In any case if you are soon this professionally you should definitely have a checklist. You can never be to organize or prepared.

  • Jon M

    January 12, 2012 01:08 pm

    Two thoughts spring to mind...

    Firstly is a tip from aviation, the Remove Before Flight tag. You may have seen these fluorescent red or orange ribbons dangling conspicuously from hangared aircraft. I think a bright piece of ribbon looped around part of the camera (or bag) is good to alert you that something is missing. You can even buy them cheaply as a keychain accessory from aviation supply outlets.

    Secondly, is never go anywhere without a spare card. Even if you don't have your camera with you. I am one to always carry my wallet with me when I go out, so I have a spare card in the coin compartment. It would have saved me once, except the only time I forgot my cards was before I implemented this regime!

  • gerry beetham

    January 12, 2012 12:04 pm

    Peter,
    It's probably happened to more people than you'd think. I keep a spare attached to my camera straps using a nifty case made by Tamrac. I got mine fro B&H, but they don't seem to carry them any longer. The model number is MX-S5362 and it's part of their SAS system. They're featured on the Tamrac website, but I don't know who carries them. They attach with a secure velro strap anywhere on a strap and I find them unobtrussive. With one attached to each strap I always have a spare.

  • D Morton

    January 12, 2012 12:01 pm

    I haven't gone out without a memory card in my camera, or bag, yet, but this reminds me of the time I was in St. Johns Newfoundland and shot an entire roll of film, got to about exposure #40 of a 36 exposure roll, and realized I forgot to put film in the camera!!! No, I know this hasn't anything to do with digital, but that Canon T70 took some nice photos in it's day.

  • ccting

    January 12, 2012 11:55 am

    No worry about future, there will be a card that have 999 terabytes..

  • Sam

    January 12, 2012 10:52 am

    You could just leave one in your camera. Thats what i do and even if i forget the rest, if i bring my camera with my i'v always got 1.

  • Andy Mills

    January 12, 2012 10:12 am

    I have 6 CF cards that are used with my DSLR - 4 stay in the card case that are in constant use, but two are spares that are never removed from my camera bag unless I actually have to use them. If I should happen to lose or forget the other cards and/or its case, I have the two spare I can use.

    I do, however, just use the one camera bag 99.9% of the time, so I know what should be in there, which helps with the mental check-list I go through before any shoots. Actually you could keep a list on the inside of your bag to check against before you go out. Even if there's something on the list you don't need, it could jog your memory for something you do need.

  • Ruchard Taylor

    January 12, 2012 09:54 am

    Take one out, put a new one in - always.

  • Patrice

    January 12, 2012 09:35 am

    Always keep on in the slot on your computer, even if there are a dozen strewn elsewhere. Then, you can always abide by "one in, one out" or if you can't fumble through the eight bags and gadgets others are in, there's still one in your computer!

  • Brad

    January 12, 2012 09:25 am

    I used a battery grip on my T2i and stashed a spare memory card in place of the battery door on the column that gets inserted into the battery compartment. It was enough of a pain to get to that I was never tempted to borrow it out of convenience. But it was always with the camera not matter what.

  • Melinda T

    January 12, 2012 09:24 am

    I've been so absent-minded lately...so bad that my husband will ask me a million times if I have this or that before we leave the house! Even if I say yes, he needs to see it in my hands and into my purse/pocket/tote or camera bag before we leave! Annoying, but its been a lifesaver...shh! just don't tell him I said so!

  • Anotherphotographynoob

    January 12, 2012 08:51 am

    I always do a testshot of the door before I leave the house! Se routine every time.

  • Mark

    January 12, 2012 08:31 am

    The 2 checks I do every time before leaving the house are for memory card in camera as well as the battery .... from experience!

  • Scott Stahl

    January 12, 2012 08:22 am

    This is definitely not a pleasant learning experience. However it is one that is never forgotten.

  • Mario

    January 12, 2012 08:00 am

    I have an equipment checklist (several actually, each for a different kind of shoot) that I keep in Evernote. I don't leave the house without going through it at least twice. Having said that, I still either forget something or don't take something I later wish I had.

  • Doug Sundseth

    January 12, 2012 07:59 am

    My camera strap has two small zippered pockets. One of those has a 32GB slow SD card that I never use under normal conditions. But if I ever need a card....

  • Amanda Kershaw

    January 12, 2012 07:54 am

    I have definitely done this before! At least it never happened before a paid event. My trick is whenever I remove the memory card, to leave that compartment open. Then the next time I pick up my camera, I see the empty slot and am reminded to put in a card. Works for charging batteries too.

  • Ryan Riegling

    January 12, 2012 07:46 am

    I always have one card in my card reader and one in my camera. As soon as I take the card out of my camera, I put the card from my reader into the camera. Using this method, I've never been without a card.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    January 12, 2012 07:26 am

    Good lesson Peter that even with owning a dozen memory cards going out with no means of recording your photos can still happen. This happened to me once or twice in the past on personal shoots, which made me start to treat even photographing my dog in the park like it was for a paying client. I have three memory cards that I rotate usage of, and try to leave at least one stashed in my main camera bag, though the problem remains I use a smaller bag sometimes. I guess this is a reason to buy a 4th card!

    It seems the number one reason to have at least two memory cards, is so that you can keep one stashed in your bag in case you forget.

    Or, you could just get super dedicated and always eject your card after importing and immediately put it back into your camera.

  • George L Smyth

    January 12, 2012 07:23 am

    Do not forget to include a reminder to take a spare battery. I have had the experience of seeing the low battery signal several shots into my adventure, which takes a good bit of fun out of things.

  • Florian

    January 12, 2012 06:53 am

    Ah, I think I can empathize with how you felt. This has happened to me already and I must admit that it did not take 10 years until it first happened... My tip is to never have no memory card in my digital cameras. Whenever I remove a card to download the files I try to either put it back immediately or to replace it by another card.

    I hope that you will never ever forget a memory card again.

    Florian.

  • Allie

    January 12, 2012 06:49 am

    I never actually take the card out of my camera. I use the little cord to transfer the pictures. But after reading this, I put an extra memory card into the little soft case I keep my camera in. Just in case.

  • John

    January 12, 2012 06:48 am

    I typically always check my camera before leaving the house. I do a quick flip of the on switch to make sure the battery is in and the card is loaded. I also will often times fire one simple test shot before leaving the house just so I know for sure everything is in working order.

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