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Photography/Storing Wedding Photos on DVD


Hello John,

With reasonable care, how long may I expect my wedding photos to last on the DVDs provided to me by my wedding photographer? My wedding was a few years ago and I've lost touch with the photographer.  But I've read since then that wedding pictures may last only 5 to 8 years on DVDs.  What should I do if this is true?

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Wedding Photographics  
Hi Lacy,

Thank you for your question about storing wedding pictures on DVD. There are growing numbers of professional wedding photographers who provide the full resolution and retouched JPEGs with full copyright release. Most of these photographers are providing on DVDs and some on other relatively inexpensive devices.

If your wedding images are stored on a conventional consumer grade DVD, some DVD industry leaders claim that with normal care, you may expect the data to last up to approximately 10 years. If your wedding photography was burned to consumer grade DVDs, I would recommend transferring all the pics on those DVDs to Gold Archival DVDs. Gold archival DVDs have been rated at over 100 years for archiving wedding photographs. It would not be a disadvantage to make copies on everything else you have as well.  But the main advantage of gold archival DVDs is that they are not a mechanical or electronic device which is subject to failure or damage like a computer or other device. So with several gold archival DVDs made of your wedding pictures and even passed around to family and friends, you are virtually guaranteed of being able to get your wedding pictures for the rest of your life from your own gold archival DVDs or from someone else's if yours got damaged or lost somehow. As of time of this writing, gold archival DVDs may be purchased for around $2.00 each. Many digital wedding photographers who provide wedding photos on conventional DVDs do so with the understanding or assumption the bride is using the conventional DVDs merely as a temporary (up to 10 years not bad for temporary) way to get her wedding pictures on various other media for storage and for sharing with family and friends. By the way, I've got standard grade DVDs of weddings which go back nearly 8 years and those DVDs still work fine. I have no reason to believe that even these standard grade DVDs will all of a sudden lose the JPEGs burned to them in the next couple of years.

Some brides upon hearing about the limitations of conventional DVDs also get concerned about their wedding videos. They should also copy to gold archival DVDs. The good news for the past couple of years is that there are blu-ray discs which have been rated to hold data for over 200 years! Also from some retailers and when you purchase in quantity, blu-ray discs are as low as $1.00 each.  Just a $1.00 for 25 Gigabytes per disc.  That is a great amount of data storage space for the price and not subject to electro-mechanical problems.

I also provide my wedding photography customers their magazine style wedding album designs in full resolution on gold archival DVDs. This way if anything happens to the wedding album years down the road, the bride may have a brand new album made very quickly, conveniently and at direct lab or album company prices.

Of course, the best DVD technology currently available for storing data is with the M-Discs. I recommend this as necessary reading to all professional photographers who want to keep up with the digital photography industry. The M-writer disc is unquestionably able to archive photos for many hundreds of years. The M-writer disc costs around $3 per disc. The writer itself is over $180 at this current time. Though during the past couple of decades we have seen a variety of digital formats come and go, the 4⅝" diameter disc format is going to be here for the very long foreseeable future. Check them out on YouTube or visit their website at

The 4⅝" diameter disc format is going to be here for the very long foreseeable future because of the cost per data storage ratio and for the practical ergonomic (easy to handle - 4⅝" diameter not physically too big or small) and a broad variety of uses. Remember, unlike ALL other media during the past couple of decades, the optical disc format is not an electro-mechanical device subject to failure or malfunction like betamax, VHS, DAT, reel-to-reel, cassette tapes, hard drives, pen drives, external hard drives, floppies, passports, etc. There are no electrical, electronic or mechanical moving parts. Whether it is optical disc with data "burned" via laser or data "etched" onto the disc as with the M-writer disc, the 4⅝" diameter disc format will be here for the very long foreseeable future.

Thanks again for your question about storing wedding photos on DVDs.

- John
Wedding Photographics
Athens, Tennessee  


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I have over 30 years of experience. 12 years portrait studio experience. I can comprehensively answer questions relating directly to the art, science and business of photography and the portrait studio business. Photoshop and other photo editing software.


Over 30 years photography and about 4 years working as a portrait photographer for a studio in Chattanooga and eight years as a portrait studio owner.

I have attended numerous workshop, seminars and photography conventions over the years. I continually self-study from my library of over 100 photography, video, digital photography, photoshop and other books.

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