Following along on my last post, here's what I've tried in the realm of upload/download sites and my experiences with them.

Like most of us my engagement with sending images to clients via the interwebs started many years ago with the attaching of small images to e-mails. Things have certainly changed. In 2012 I started using DropBox to send selections of files to clients. Using their free service I kept the file sizes well under the 2gb cap. In 2013, while testing the Samsung Galaxy NX, Samsung provided me with two years of 50gb service from DropBox. I found (and still find) the file structure and interface to be kludgy and non-intuitive but the ability to push large files, or hundreds of medium size files, to clients forced me to adapt to the inelegant interface. 

As long as I used it regularly it worked but if I took a few weeks off from using it I fell out of practice and had to re-learn how to step around the things I didn't think made rational sense to an end user. 

When someone sent me a link to WeTransfer.com I was delighted to give it a try. What a breath of fresh air after the DropBox interface. I have used the free version of WeTransfer.com extensively and was ready just recently to pop for the full $XXX per year level which would allow me to upload as much as 50 gb at a time. That's enough for just about anything I could think of. Most of our industrial video programs cap out at about 5-8 gigabytes (high res) and the only time I think I might use anything close to the per transaction cap of 50gb would be sending along Pro-Res video files. Which I've never been asked to do. 

The design of the splash page and the work page in WeTransfer is fun, usually pretty and easy to use for just about anyone. Even the stodgiest ancient art director.

So I was sitting there with my credit card out, getting ready to sign up for a year of service, when I got a nice e-mail from a vendor I've been using since 2006; Smugmug.com. They let me know that people signed up at the professional and business levels would be able to do unlimited uploads (already a feature) but would now also be able to do big downloads to our clients. I gave it a shot on several jobs and it worked great. 

I finished my post processing from the New Jersey shoot late last night (so much for Saturday evening entertainment) and uploaded two different folders to Smugmug to create two different online web galleries. One folder was all the photographic "B-roll" I'd shot. These images included glamour shots of the front of the client's headquarters, shots of chemist doing R&D, fabulous machines, strategies meetings complete with people in suits, packaging and shipping operations and more fabulous machines. The folder contain about 900 large, high resolution 20 megapixel Jpegs and was approximately 11.5 Gigabytes of information. Once download Smugmug automatically makes a gallery I can send various agency people to. If they are willing they can also share the links with their clients. Probably good for collaboration. 

Since the images were already full size, optimized and color corrected, I selected all the images in the gallery and did a "gallery download." This generates links I can send to my client. They can use the links to access the images. Smugmug creates as many folders as needed but each one is under 2 Gigabytes, which makes sense as most clients have I.T. department mandated limits.  I sent along the online gallery link and the download links in an e-mail. 

Since I'll be retouching selected portrait images I did not send along a big folder full of portrait images. I output images from Lightroom CC at 2100 pixels on the long side and made a separate portrait gallery from them. I also sent along a folder download link of the portrait files to aid the client in using them for placement.

Everything worked charmingly and, since I already have 320,000+ images in Smugmug's system and have never had a glitch with them, it all feels very comfortable. They even have real, live customer service!

The worst method I've used in terms of the way my brain is wired and the software developers who made the system have their brains wired is ------- drum roll ------ Google Drive. Hate it. If a client insist on doing a big project of which Google Drive is a major component, I am quickly going to hire a digital tech. No one should have to endure that jagged interface and file system while under time pressure or, hell, at any time. 

Close behind Google Drive for my scorn and derision is Apple's vision of Cloud storage. Yuck. And that's from a user of their machines since 1985 and a long term stockholder in their company. Their Cloud offering baffles me but I'm sure if someone explained it to me three or four times a week, until I got the hang of it, I'd finally get it. 

In 2015 all software aimed at non-technical users should be simple, bulletproof and visually elegant. There's just no excuse for crap out there. 

I'll continue to use WeTransfer.com for my day to day delivery of finished portrait files and low volume work. I'll lean on Smugmug to do the heavy lifting. Am I missing anything out there? Is there something really fantastic I just haven't heard about? Do you want to share?

P.S. Panasonic fz1000 files are much better than I could have hoped for. It's a camera that delivers imaging so far above its price point that it stuns me. I'm so glad I tossed one into the mix for this last job. So nice....

Hey, I don't have anything I want to sell you here. I hope you are enjoying the lead up to the holidays. Concentrate on the fun stuff and not the problems. I guarantee you'll have more fun. 


rexdeaver said...

For my shoot-and-deliver work, I cannot recommend Pixieset highly enough.

Gato said...

"Hey, I don't have anything I want to sell you here."

Hey, you've already sold me an FZ1000 - next time there's some spare cash lying around.

But thanks for the info on WeTransfer.com. Glad to know it's not just me not liking Dropbox - though my young clients seem to deal with it fine.

And more good advice:
"Concentrate on the fun stuff and not the problems. I guarantee you'll have more fun."

Eric Seale said...

I can sympathize with you on iCloud -- it's OK for keeping your personal data safely duplicated / synchronized between devices, but it's no way to deliver content to someone else. For that, Box.com is really good (free 50GB accounts also available, you just need an invite from somebody that's already got one).

amolitor said...

Several of these things supposedly work better if you install stuff on your end. Google drive and dropbox in particular have installable... Things? Which make the storage more seamless?

I just struggle with the crummy web interfaces because I don't trust software people an inch, since I'm one of them.

Michael Matthews said...

Just tried WeTransfer. Thanks! It's fast, simple (just my style), and much easier for the recipient.

Pete Mao said...

Isn't the interface for Dropbox your own file manager? Aside from setting up with whom you share directories, when are you using the web-browser interface?

Rene said...

Agreed about google in general. I often am requested to use google docs and google groups for group projects which require a lot of text. Hate them both. Thank for your earlier post Kirk on keeping up with things; it was great.

Mark Davidson said...

I use Dropbox intensively and love it. However I have a number of less tech capable clients that are mystified by ZIP files and the like. To make things easier for them (I work with stills only) I use Shootproof.com. Pixieset also seems good but I don't use it.

Both services create galleries that are easy for lay people to navigate and one can allow downloads or not. One can also permit downloads of the entire gallery.
One benefit of Shootproof of me is that I can upload watermarked files and the clients can select favorites and email the list to me so I can then deliver those specific files.

Dave Jenkins said...

Really helpful discussion, Kirk. I've used Hightail (formerly yousendit), Dropbox, and Google Drive. Haven't fallen in love with any of them. I'll try WeTransfer and some of the other services mentioned in the comments.

(Just kidding about the locked-up Hasselblad.) :o)

Joseph Ferrari said...

I mostly deal with video and Dropbox has really streamlined the workflow. It's made it super easy for my clients.

Kepano said...

Kirk - were you using the web interface or the Finder with Dropbox? I can't imagine a more simple workflow than a Finder based Dropbox practice. I have a pro account with SmugMug, but only used their file transfer service when selling digital images. For all other client file sharing, it's been Dropbox, as it is not limited to photos. I use it for contracts, photos, videos, etc.

Kirk Tuck said...

Kepono, If you feel that warm and fuzzy about Dropbox imagine how much more love you might feel for WeTransfer.com. I've run Dropbox from the web and the finder as well as on an iPad running iOS and it's the logic of the interface that disturbs me. Like something right out of Windows 8 but even more opaque.

I'll take WeTransfer or Smugmug any time.

Kepano said...

I'm going to take a look at WeTransfer.com for sure, but I am curious about your problems with the Dropbox Finder interface (which is almost exclusively how I interact with Dropbox). What logic are you referring to? It's pretty transparent relative to normal Finder usage. This means just about any workflow that includes regular Finder folders can access any Dropbox folder you specify. Is it Finder usage in general that you don't like?

Not trying to sell you on Dropbox, but would like to know better where your sticking points are - if you're having issues with it, my clients may also, and I don't want to be blind to potential customer sat issues. Yosemite brought native integration for Dropbox into the Finder - could be you're on an older version of OS X, but I recall you got a new iMac not too long ago.

On another note, Frame.io may be worth your consideration for video projects. Emery hit the nail on the head when he mentions the hodge podge of services (Dropbox and Vimeo - that's me) we've been using for file sharing and project reviews. My own experience is limited to a couple of small projects with one of my clients that were already in final edit, so we haven't really exercised the full functionality yet. But, I do look forward to leveraging the FCPX integration on a future project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJmNmdyIQI0