How to Recover Photos that Have Been Deleted

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Gather ’round, kids — I’m about to tell a terrifying tale of a girl who accidentally deleted a whole memory card full of photos that she hadn’t yet imported. I had spent a whole weekend shooting all of our spring floral posts (like this one! and this one!), and after that weekend my schedule got totally crazy. We were out of town, and a bunch of other posts started getting produced, and we all got sick, and somehow in there I neglected to import the photos from my memory card to Lightroom, which is where I organize and store my images. On one of our trips shortly after, I needed some space on my memory card and deleted everything on it, thinking that it was all imported already. A few days later, we were home and I was ready to start editing those floral photos so I started searching for them in Lightroom. Nowhere. Okayyyyy maybe I imported them into my laptop? Checked the laptop. Nope. Maybe Ryan’s computer? Nope. Nowhere. Gone. Commence panicking NOW. The good news is that this story has a happy ending, so if you’re in the same boat and are trying to recover photos that have been deleted, here’s the lowdown of how we got ours back.

Quarantine your memory card. First of all, if you’ve deleted some photos accidentally from a memory card, don’t take any photos on that card until you try to recover what you’ve deleted. It’s usually much easier (or only possible at all) if the photos haven’t actually been overwritten with new photos. I had taken a few pictures on the card but luckily we didn’t overwrite so much that what I needed was gone forever. So. Step 1, no new photos.

Don’t get hacked. A word to the wise — there are loooottts of spammy sites out there that are super shady and are really just looking to hack your poor computer while you’re panicking about your lost photos. This actually happened to us; Ryan clicked on a bad link while he was looking for a reputable data recovery site and his computer was compromised. Luckily, we have Time Machine backups of our computers but this meant that he had to essentially wipe his computer clean and restore to a backup from before he clicked the bad link. So don’t just start clicking around willy nilly.

Choose the right data recovery software. We ended up finding Ease US, which worked really well on my PNY 32 GB memory card. This particular program lets you recover 2 GB of data for free, and you pay for additional data beyond that. We didn’t need a ton of photos, so we were able to select the ones we needed and we actually got away without spending a cent. (Unless you count the stress of a bunch of lost images and a hacked computer.) That being said, I was so focused on getting the images back I was totally ready to whip out that credit card. It’s good to note, too, that usually individual memory card brands will have their own data recovery software, so do a little research to see what other program might work for you. Once you find the right program, it usually walks you through the process pretty simply.

Make your image storage dummy-proof. Ryan and I have talked forever about me starting to shoot with double memory cards in my camera, which would in a lot of instances guard against dummies like me who erase one of their memory cards. So to future-proof, be sure you examine your processes for taking and storing images. Because nothing is worse than losing photos when your job depends on them!

So long story short, after a day of stomach aches we finally got it figured out and all’s well that ends well. And you can bet I won’t be deleting accidentally again any time soon. Hope you never end up in the same situation, but that this info helps if you do! xoxo

4 thoughts on “How to Recover Photos that Have Been Deleted”

  1. Ugggggggggggg our wedding photographer lost the entire memory card of our family photos from our wedding day. We sent the card out to two places, and no dice. I still feel sick just hearing about this kind of thing! Glad you were able to recover your images.

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