Distribution

It is important to explore ways of getting your material out, from e-mail systems and storage, to the sending of large files, to providing viewing and download abilities to clients.

E-mail solutions
Large file sending
Galleries and downloads

E-mail solutions

Of course you already have some kind of e-mail package. However, you might not be using your e-mail as productively as you could, particularly if you are operating with older equipment and unreliable internet access. It is important to tailor your email solution to your existing needs as well as the realities of what could happen, and this means combining online (i.e. email clients that you only use when you are online, eg gmail, yahoo mail, etc) and offline systems (eg Outlook, Mail, etc), so that you can take advantage of the benefits of both.

Online email solutions

 

Advantages

  • You never lose your email, even if you lose your computer.
  • You can access your email from any computer, anywhere.

 

Disadvantages

  • You must be online to read your mail.
  • You must be online to write any emails.

Offline email solutions

 

Advantages

  • You do not have to be online to read mails.
  • You do not have to be online to write mails.
  • Internet speeds do not affect the speed with which you load previously-read emails.

 

Disadvantages

  • Lose your computer and you lose all your emails.

 

email folders offline

Figure 1: An example of an offline system in which old emails, stored in individual folders, are very quick to access, whether online or offline.

As a Majority World photographer, you might not own your own computer or control your own access to the Internet. Possibly you have limited time in which you can download mail. On a shared computer, obviously you will want to ensure that your email is private. One way of doing this is to only access it though an online system. Another is to create a password-protected user identity on the computer, so that you log in to the computer securely, but then your email downloads into your offline inbox. 

Having an offline 'inbox' can also save you money. If you are paying for your Internet access, such as at an Internet cafe, you can pay for 15 minutes to download all email. Then you can go away and read and respond to all your email in your own time (they will be stored in your 'outbox') and return and pay only for another 15 minutes for all the emails to sent.

The major benefit of this is that you can really read your emails carefully and think properly about the response, as well as take the time to ensure your spelling and grammar are perfect. This is vital when dealing professionally with clients.

The drawback is that, should your computer be lost or stolen, you lose all your email.

The solution is simple: forward all of your email to a free online email service as a back-up.

Gmail, for example, offers very big data storage capacity at no cost, and has incredible search functionality so that it is easy to find an old email later.

Large file sending

Most Majority World photographers face the same problem over and over again: you have an incredible image and you have a buyer for that image, but you struggle to get that image to the buyer because the file is so large. You need a solution that not only makes it easy for your recipient to download the file, but that is easy for you to upload in conditions where the bandwidth and internet connectivity are unreliable.

It is important that you solve this problem upfront, and that you communicate with your client in advance about how you will be sending the file. Until very recently, you might have been reliant on ftp (file transfer protocol), but now there are a number of file sharing services available to you. Most of these use the 'freemium' model: they offer the basic service free, but encourage you to upgrade for further services.

While in the past many Majority World photographers over-compressed their files in order to send, and in so doing compromised the quality, there is now no reason not to send the very highest quality file to your client.

Yousendit is a very good example of this. Without any payment, you can send a file of up to 100MB to any email address - or even to a number of email addresses simultaneously. Simply go to their website and fill in the details.

 

Yousendit

Figure 2: Online file sharing sites such as Yousendit, allow you to send large files - in this case individual files of up to 100MB - for free, safely and securely.

If you are sending an individual file, this is all you need. However, if you were to upgrade to a higher-level account, you could send an entire folder, without uploading the files individually, of up to 2gigs. Further upgrades would add functionality, such as providing you with a dropbox in which clients could drop large files for you, or the guarantee that there would be no advertising shown to your recipient. All of this is nice-to-have, but not vital. As it is, you get outstanding functionality of professional calibre, for free, with progress reports every step of the way.

 

yousendit progress

Figure 3: Once you have pressed 'send it', you can move on to other work, checking emails, etc. A status bar will show you the progress, so that even with very slow internet connections, you are able to be productive while the file sends.

A good tip at this point is to email your client or the recipient of the file and alert them to the fact that you have sent the file in this manner, and that they should expect a notification and link on where to download.

 

Figure 4: Even with very slow download speeds, you can keep working on other online sites or emails until you receive the notification that the file has been sent. At this point you could be extra cautious and send the link provided to your client, letting them know that the file has been sent.

Galleries and downloads

The good news for Majority World photographers and multimedia creators is that the online gallery tools available for free these days are so powerful that even the most cash-flush pros are moving to using them. The bad news is that they are usually only free for a limited period of time or for limited functionality. After that you must upgrade.

Ideally, you need your own website - one that includes the ability for you to very easily create new portfolios and for clients to download hi-res images. Within hours of doing a shoot, you want to be able to have a unique portfolio created for the client, so that you can send them a link and they can make a selection and then downloand the images.

 

Zenfolio hires download

Figure 5: This gallery, which uses Zenfolio - a very simple and clean hosting service which is initially free but then requires a subscription, illustrates how easy it would be for your client or a third party to view the overall selection at a glance, view an individual image more closely, and then download the hi-res.

Read more about websites in our marketing course

An interim measure is to use a free online photo gallery such as Flickr to show them the selection. Then, once they have made their choice, you can use a web-based file sharing tool such as Yousendit to send them the selected hi-res files.

For a small upgrade fee, Flickr does allow hi-res uploads and downloads. This is not an ideal long-term tool for the professional photographer, but it is a very good interim backup. 

To use Flickr in this way, you would upload your hi-res just like any other images. Then send the link to that particular gallery to your client. They would then click on the individual images they liked and 'view all sizes'.

Figure 6: Using the added functionality that Flickr offers if you upgrade from the free account, you an allow your client to download hi-res files.

Your client will then be shown a range of options that are available, based on the original size that you uploaded. They then make their selection.

 

Figure 7: Notice how Flickr has highlighted the highest res version of this file that is available. 427 x 640 pixels is not actually hi-res at all, but it is the highest that was available in this case, based on the size of the upload. Had a far higher resolution image been originally uploaded by the photographer, that is the size that would have been available here to the client.

See the video on using Flickr on the social media page of our marketing course