12.17.2012

A quick note on how we deliver jobs today. Now.

We used to come home from multi-day jobs, edited down the take and then start burning DVDs. A typical job documenting an enterprise conference for a Fortune 100 company might result in 1,000 to 1,500 edited images. We shoot them mostly in raw and deliver them always as high res Jpegs. No matter what they tell you in forums and workshops, event clients want/demand nice Jpegs. The only people who ask for Tiff files are ad agencies and even then they are more likely to ask for PSD files...  But it's so different because in an ad shoot you may only be delivering a handful of images. Ten variations? No big deal. 1500 distinct images? Big deal.

So, we usually had two rounds of DVD burning. The first would be a set of high res edited images that went to the client. With big sensor cameras now we'd  usually be looking at four DVD's. Which means dividing up folders and doing some sort of organization for the client. And while I'm at it I always make them a back up set and an additional back up set for me. Now we're at 12 DVDs. Once those are delivered I'd want to back up a set or two of DVDs with the raw files. Even with a tight edit we're still talking about something like, maybe 32 gigabytes of material. That's roughly eight DVDs per iteration. As you can imagine, babysitting the DVD burn added a lot of hours to our post processing...

Recently I decided to chuck all of that, and to deliver the edited Jpegs on a memory stick. I've been using 16 gigabyte Sandisk Ultra sticks because Costco had them on sale in three packs. The price per 16gb stick came out to less than $10 per. The burn takes about 15 minutes.  I back them up for my storage on a second stick which I dump into the job bag. We also have the images backed up on a quickly accessible hard drive. If I have no requests for additional images on that job (our delivery contract clearly states client's responsibility to make additional back ups and states, boldly, that we no longer are responsible for archiving client images...) after one year we clean out the job bags and return the sticks to ready inventory.

The same sticks are currently $14 a piece at Amazon.com.




The sale is still on at Costco (as of yesterday). Sorry no link for Costco....

But when I was researching yesterday evening I found this cheaper model of flash stick at Amazon:



I can't imagine that it's much slower than the more expensive one, especially for a job delivery, but it's 50% cheaper....


21 comments:

Corwin said...

Yep, pretty much reason why Blu-ray isnt viable option for backup. Era of regular burning has ended I think.

Glenn Harris said...

I've started using Dropbox to deliver files after looking at the economics of memory sticks. The "cloud" is settling over us, and may actually be useful for clients and backups. I've got a stack of DVDs and am trying to think of something creative to do with them beside drink coasters.

Bill Bresler said...

As a newspaper shooter (dinosaur-in-training) and a teacher I don't have too much time for free-lance gigs anymore. However I do have a handful of clients that keep calling. I'm working on a job right now that will take about 3 DVDs, 6 with dupes. Tried posting pix for clients on zenfolio, but upload/download speeds stretch into hours. That flash drive delivery is a great idea. On my way to Costco...

Kirk Tuck said...

Yikes. I think uploading 16gb's of info over my DSL connection would be nightmarishly long.... We use Dropbox for a handful of images but nothing on the scale of a show.

Kirk Tuck said...

Bill, It works great. Sometimes clients even return the memory sticks. Usually not. But a $10 a throw I don't care.

David Liang said...

I been using Box.com for the client preview part of the business. Their speed is surprisingly fast, you can create a folder system and email access to specific clients for specific folders.

What I really like about it is that the client can preview the images in the browser before downloading, and leave comments or assign tasks. I did a product shoot and uploaded 250 shots in 20+ folders of medium res images, client left notes on edits and I was on my way. No travel, no DVD delivery and the best is 50gb space was free.

Anonymous said...

When I worked at a magazine, I was on the receiving end of this transaction and I always enjoyed that moment when the photographers dropped by with their envelopes full of images. It was very much a "Ta Dah!" moment and everyone poured coffee and gathered around to ooh and ahh over the transparencies. Plus, I assume it was a great opportunity for the photographer to cement relationships, but I suppose those days are gone forever....What's the secret to relationship maintenance now?

MartinP said...

A very practical and effective plan to use the usb keys instead of slow and vulnerable dvds.

In another line of work, I have been on the receiving end of usb keys with suppliers logo and contact details silkscreened on a generic body - if you order a year supply of the devices, I wonder what the cost for custom usb keys would be for you?

Bold Photography said...

Amazingly, I hadn't even thought of using a USB stick... yet it makes so much sense! Now, what to do with all those CDs (yes, I have a pile of those..) and unburned DVDs...

Dave said...

Staples has 8 gig drives for $5 and 16 gig drives for $8 right now. I often stock up when they're on sale, whether I have a need or not.

Gregg Mack said...

I have taken several photography classes where the instructor told the students to bring in their assignment photos on USB flash drives. Inevitably, one or two of the student's flash drives can not be read by the instructor's laptop.

If you want to pass the USB Flash drive between PC users and Mac users, one must be sure that the flash drive is formatted "correctly". If a PC user formats the USB Flash drive in NTFS, then it can not be read by a Mac. Instead, PC users should format the USB flash drive in FAT32 file system, while Mac users should choose to format in MS-DOS format.

I believe that the manufacturers of the USB Flash drives already deliver them formatted like this, but many people reformat them to better, more modern file system formats. They never see any problem - until they pass the flash drive to someone who attempts to read it using the opposite operating system.

Anonymous said...

I went from saving images on CD, to DVD, to good-size (large, hard cover book) external drives, to my current small-size (pack of cigarettes) external drive.

For a couple of years now I've been thinking that either USB Flash or SD Card might be more future-proof, more reliable (no moving parts) and certainly take up less space for photo storage. I could save a years worth of images on 1 or 2 16GB sticks/cards.

Is anyone here archiving images with USB Flash or SD Cards?

I don't know what I'm going to do with the old CDs and DVDs. I don't even have a means to play them any more. Two of my old external drives are stored away in their original boxes. They're slow and bothersome with their cords and power source that needs to be plugged in. I should transfer the images from them on to something more modern.

Kirk Tuck said...

Lunch.

Kirk Tuck said...

Good points. Thanks for mentioning this!

Libby said...

I've had a couple of clients delivering files to me for retouch on flash drives for a couple of years now. Works well.

Thee note on use as Backup is interesting. I have a few file groupings of some art files where I would like just one more backup set to store offsite. I already rotate a hard drive out to my brother every couple of weeks, but the flash drives can easily be tucked into a safe deposit box, stuff like that.

Or it could be the large file portfolio you always have with you too.

Anonymous said...

There is a serious business opportunity here, all it needs is someone who can think outside the electronic box. If only there was some way to turn those bits and bytes into light rays that you could then project onto some kind of chemical emulsion that was sensitive to light....maybe it could be painted onto plates of glass or some sort of thin, transparent, flexible material. Then you could store hundreds of images in a space no bigger than a business-sized envelope. And I bet that an image that exists in the 3D world of time and space would last much longer than a bunch of 1s and 0s stored on notoriously unstable memory media.
If only...

Kirk Tuck said...

MMMM. Yeah, I can only get a couple thousand images on one of these ten dollar sticks......I see the logical problem. Hundreds of images at $20 per 36, stuffed into an envelope. So maybe 108 images stuffed into an envelope for $60 bucks. But how would I share them? If I gave them away I wouldn't have them any more. This is so tough.

Joe Gilbert said...

Pithy mood today? ;)

Karlen Mkrtchyan said...

Isn't it amazing how far we have come in digital world?
Right after I came to US, in 1994 I bought a computer, 486 with Win 3.11. I paid some extra to have 350MB hard disk, and some $100 more so I could get "big" 15" monitor, not 14". O, and going from 4mb of RAM to 8mb cost me $150 more. WOW!
Now, I have a Sandisk 32GB on my keychain with some files.

Anonymous said...

I used to deliver on expensive Syquest, then Zip disks... Ended up with thousands of dollars of them. Threw them all out years ago CODB....

John Shriver said...

Well, but it's not clear that NAND flash (which is what's inside SD cards, USB memory sticks, Compact Flash cards, etc.) is even as long-term stable as a DVD-R or DVD+R. The bits in the NAND flash are each just charge in a capacitor, coupled with massive levels of error correcting code to cover for the native high error rate. NAND flash (unlike NOR flash) is inherently very error prone.

Don't assume that an SD card that's been in a drawer 10 years will be at all readable.