What I learned from Hurricane Irma

The past week has been a roller coaster of emotions. A week ago news coverage amped up in regards to a storm off in the Atlantic Ocean which is the largest we have ever seen on record. Warnings of mass devastation, varying storm tracks, evacuation notices and the onslaught of gas and food shortages were the norm. We went from our every day routines to preparing our businesses and homes for the worst – Hurricane Irma was on her way and she had Florida in her path.

My husband and I made the decision that we were going to stay put in our home. We live inland and 70 feet above sea level so we weren’t worried about flooding. With the mass hysteria surrounding the state, we opted to leave the roads, gas and hotels to those who lived on the coast and in flood zones. Instead we prepared our home to house friends who lived on the bay and offer them a safe place to stay and wait out the storm.

As the track of the storm turned and seemed to be taking a direct path to Tampa, I started to receive emails, texts and messages from clients asking about their portraits.

“Jeanine, please tell me you have digital copies of my artwork backed up in case we lose everything!”

“Do you know how we can protect our framed portraits? Will insurance cover them if they are lost during the hurricane?”

“Should we pack up our albums and portraits when we evacuate or can you replace them if they are lost?”

When preparing for the worst I am reminded of what truly matters most. Of course the first concern is our family, children and pets. Those we love and their safety and comfort during a natural disaster is priority. Then we think about “what can’t I live without?” Truly that list is a short one. There is the obvious – food, water, shelter, medications, etc. However I am talking about if you had to pack up your car with items from your home that can not be replaced, what would you take with you?

Our portraits, our photographs, our scrapbooks … these items document the history of our family. These are our memories, memories of our life that we can’t replace should they be lost forever. It is imperative that we make sure our photographs are safe from harm or that they can be reproduced should the worst happen.

Hurricane Irma has now passed through Florida. Many people have lost everything, many are without power for days, and others received no damage besides some minor inconveniences. Regardless of what we lost, what we all experienced was the scare of our lives. A wake up call to what is most important and how to prepare for the future.

Tips for Preparing your Photographs

For those of you who did have the thoughts about “what will happen to my photographs” I wanted to give you a few tips for future preparations.

  1. If you have purchased framed portraits or albums valued over $1,000 from our studio (or any other studio), call your insurance company and ask about getting that artwork insured. Do we have backups? Yes we do, however, there will still be a cost to remake your artwork.
  2. If you have purchased your digital backups from the studio then please … right now, as soon as you finish reading this blog post, back those digital images up to the cloud. Get them somewhere that isn’t on your computer, in your home, etc. It may not be as devastating as a hurricane, but any computer crash, house fire, flood, theft, sink hole, etc could result in the loss of your digital images. You can have piece of mind that your memories won’t be lost if you back up your images!
  3. For your own personal images taken on your cameras or phones, start backing those babies up as well! The professional portraits we create for you are only ONE PIECE of your family history. The every day moments you capture tell an important story as well, a story you don’t want to lose.
  4. Have several water tight containers handy so that you can put your small photographs and albums in them during storms or in case of evacuations. This will protect these valuables from the elements as well as from damage during transportation.
  5. If you must leave framed portraits at your house in case of evacuation, get them up high off the ground, away from windows and to an interior room of your house.

If you would like to chat with me about your ideas for preserving your photographs, shoot me an email or give me a call. I would be happy to talk with you and help give you peace of mind that your family’s photographic history will be well preserved for future generations.

To everyone out there in Florida, and throughout the southeast, recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Hugs & Kisses,

Jeanine McLeod

 

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Jeanine McLeod Professional PortraitJeanine McLeod is the owner of Cloud 9 Studios, a Florida based photography studio located just north of Tampa in Wesley Chapel. They specialize in family, children and baby photography and love helping families celebrate their love of family with fun, fresh and beautiful portraits.