Forced to Delete Photos? No Problem, Just Recover Them Later

Here’s a useful idea related to the memory card recovery tutorial we shared yesterday: if you’re ever confronted by someone who forces you to delete your photos (and our magical photographers’ rights gray card doesn’t work), go ahead and delete them! What most people don’t know is that deleted photos can easily be recovered afterward. Even photos on a memory card that’s formatted and completely wiped can usually be restored.

There are, however, a couple things you should keep in mind:

1. Carry Extra Memory Cards

Once you’re asked to delete images, you’ll want to stop using that memory card lest you overwrite them with subsequent photographs. Having extra memory cards with you will allow you to swap out the cards to be recovered later, leaving the deleted areas of the card untouched.

2. Practice Beforehand

Try deleting and recovering your photos beforehand to make sure that everything goes well. Then you can have confidence when deleting your photos that they’re not gone for good. Make sure you know how to use your recovery software successfully (we recommend PhotoRec).

There you have it… a easy solution for getting out of sticky situations when you’re confronted as a photographer while keeping your photographs!

Image credit: Policeman by StartTheDay

  • Antoine 星野

    Bad idea. NEVER delete your photos when asked for. This is like telling those criminal cops that they are right. If people don’t stand by their rights, those criminals will keep eating them away. If a few little law-inventing criminal cops are enough to stop you from taking pictures, don’t become a photographer to begin with.

  • sacredgeometry

    @Antoine I completely agree, we shouldn’t let people become intimidated by these suited monkeys. Especially when the law is on our side.

  • Josh Zytkiewicz

    Get a camera with dual card slots. Go out one day and shoot a bunch of boring pictures. If you’re approached, quickly switch to the boring card. On my camera it takes 3 button presses, and only for the 2nd one do I need to look at the screen.

    I still say don’t voluntarily show or delete your photos, but if your camera is taken and the police delete, they won’t even be deleting the right ones.

  • simong

    sometimes its easier to just delete, walkaway and recover then stand there and get into an arguement

  • Gizmoi

    I tried this once (I was bang to rights: did not have permission to photograph in a private venue). Didn’t work :(

  • //d.

    i’ve actually done this successfully on a number of occasions. used a mac app called Data rescue. as the post yesterday said just make sure you dont shoot any more shots after you’ve deleted… throw a blank card in to continue shooting. and set the deletion card aside.

    its funny because in some cases images from a LONG gime ago get recovered too. i’ve also used this app to recover about 20 gigs worth of photos that accidentally got thrown out during a backup/archiving session a while ago. so it works on hardrives too.

  • Colin Peddle

    Most newer Nikon DSLR’s allow you to hide pictures on the camera body. Great for street shooting when you see someone approaching you after you take a picture. Shoot a few snaps, see them coming and get to the hide picture menu option before they show up. Even if you only hide one or two before they get to you, you can delete the ones they see and show them they’re all gone. If recovery doesn’t work on the ones you deleted, you’ve still got a couple you didn’t.

  • Dukeicon

    I use a program called Recuva to recover files. Its free too!

  • Jasmin Gendron

    Great for Russia and North Korea trip!!!

  • Siddharth Singh

    Law on your side? Where? Communist China? You have to be kidding.

  • Teknisyan

    Lols… Yeah… the best is that you ask if there is a law prohibiting you from taking pictures. I was shooting once in a mall and the guard told me that taking pictures is not allowed.. then I told them… “yeah.. locals can’t take picture but tourist can?!!” then when he left I I kept on shooting.

  • Pete Khamphila

    Dual slots always come in handy. Or an Eye-fi card tethered to an iPhone so you can upload right away.

  • Ted Marlow

    was it a public square or a shopping mall?  most malls are private property.