Where do you store your words, images & videos? How many copies do you need? What are the chances of losing everything? Or losing something important?
Some of my scuba buddies like to say,
Got one, got none... got two, got one.
Meaning that equipment can fail, and having a spare can be a life saver. In cave diving, the chances of your flashlight failing are so high that you don't carry 2 lights, you carry 3!
Back when people stored images and other work on their local hard drive - you're not still doing this now, are you? - you really had to back up your work because drives, especially spinning drives, all eventually fail. Not if, but when? So peeps bought external drives or thumb drives and made copies. For the very organized this could work well, for others it could be messy.
Today, when you store images on cloud platforms like Dropbox or Flickr the chances of them losing your data are pretty small. Though probably never quite zero. The chances of you screwing up and losing, misplacing, overwriting, or deleting images... well, that's more likely.
A long time ago I wrote in a word processor and then copied and pasted to web pages. That seems ridiculous now. I mostly use WordPress & Ghost today, and I write directly in them. I probably should backup that text to another site, but I don't. I think having too many versions could be a bigger problem. When I read a past piece, I'll often click edit and change a word or typo. While backing up individual pages would be tedious, you could backup your whole site, or use a platform that provides that service.
These days I work mostly in Dropbox. I do keep my raw camera files on a local hard drive because there's so many of them and they're so big. But once I use an image for something, it goes in a folder in Dropbox. So if I need one of my portfolio images to apply for a grant or anything else, it should be easy to find in my image folders on Dropbox.
Dropbox will give you 2gb of space for free, or 1tb of space for $8.25/month. You can do a lot with 2gb if you manage your files carefully. Unless you're a photographer, 1tb should probably be enough to cover your entire career - in photos, not including videos! I know $8.25/month can be a lot on a student budget, but having an easy, flexible place to store your entire portfolio can be priceless. Your work represents thousands of hours. Photographing your work and messing with files represents many more hours. A platform like Dropbox makes your files available to you on any computer anywhere just as if it were a local hard drive. And even if you delete files, Dropbox keeps them for you for an extra 30 days just in case.
You actually can grab your images straight from your website. I'm sure you already know this. You can right-click an image on a page and say save image as or open image in new tab. Sometimes you might use this to borrow images from other websites, but it's also a way to "borrow" images from yourself. When you upload to Cargo Collective, SquareSpace, etc, you're also creating an archive of images you can use. You should test that a site that you're interested in using saves the full-resolution image. If you upload a 2560x1440 image, can you get that back? I think/hope the answer will be yes for most portfolio sites. It might be no for social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.
Flickr is an older, but still fantastic photo site. They'll give you 1tb of free storage! That's 500x more than the free 2gb from Dropbox. It's 67x more than the free 15gb from Google Drive.
What I like about Dropbox is that it's files & folders just like images files on my hard drive. TBH the difference is mostly conceptual though. On Flickr I'd just surf my image folders till I found the right one and then dowload it. Flickr even gives you a choice of download sizes, so you might be able to skip Photoshop, download the size you need, and upload it to the application you're filling out, etc.
Whether you use Dropbox, Flickr, your Website, or some other tool, the key is organizing your work in a clean, clear, easy manner. You're probably going to be making work for many years to come and the number of works and the number of images of those works can grow to daunting proportions.
You could organize by Year, by Large Works, by Series of Works, by Exhibitions, or any other way that makes sense to you. Just remember that your future self is going to forget a lot of what you're thinking right now. Simplicity is better than clever when it comes to organizing your work.
Depending on the nature and quantity of your works, you might also might like to maintain in-process images. Again, try to use the file structure of your hard drive, Dropbox, Flickr, or wherever, to make as clean and accessible a library of your work as possible.
image: Stephen Kennedy