One of the universal challenges for many photographers and videographers is the digital data management, especially when it comes to figuring out the best media delivery strategies.
Whether you are an amateur photographer who loves to capture the world using the camera lens, a professional videographer who helps big brands run their marketing campaigns, or anybody in between the two… This is one of the specific business problems that you will inevitably face, just like I do.
I have been following my passion for photography for more than a decade. Let me give my insight on what I have experienced so far.
What Is Digital Data Management?
Digital data management refers to storing, delivering, and managing your backups for all the photos and videos you have captured. Now, one might think that in this era, delivering media is a piece of cake, after all, this the tech era. But here’s what I think.
There are multiple options to choose from, and this, in particular, gets some newer photographers and videographers confused. Moreover, it sometimes leaves my own clients perplexed as to which one would be the best for them.
With So Many Options Out There, Which One Is the Best for Photographers and Videographers?
I decided to discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of using some of the most popular media delivery strategies of today. I will discover which media delivery tools are best for which services, and why you should pick one over the other.
Google Drive is one of the most popular and economical ways to store and share files amongst small groups today.
It hits that perfect balance where it is still easy enough to use to be client-friendly and yet also is extremely helpful in transferring and sharing large photo and video files for the professional photographer or videographer. What’s more is that unlike more sophisticated software, it also does not cost you an arm and a leg.
It is easy to create new folders for each client on Google Drive. You do not have to manually upload them to the server—Backup and Sync function will do it for you by mirroring your local drive (presumingly, organized by client). This keeps your work adequately sorted for the future. By paying a modest monthly fee, you can gain unlimited storage and do not have to worry about how you will manage your ever-growing gallery. This alone makes it my first choice among the media delivery strategies.
Furthermore, creating a shareable link to the folder allows your client to access the data from any desktop without any limitations, hence scoring for you in terms of customer satisfaction.
Dropbox is yet another popular way that you can distribute your work as a professional photographer or videographer. Reliable and affordable, it is the preferred way of media delivery for many experts. However, just like in Google Drive, you will be limited to the availability of a working network connection to access all those files. This can often be a frustrating experience, especially when you want to fetch a rather memorable picture to show somebody but are unable to catch a network signal.
One disadvantage that I find is lack of native and transparent support for Google office productivity tools like Docs and Sheets. Synchronisation comes with caveats, those files count against storage quota, and and you still have to have a Google account. Why not maintain it all under a Google Drive, then?
Another slight drawback that Dropbox can have is that it does not allow you to customize your gallery very much. However, most photographers do not seem to mind this very much—especially when they consider everything else that it has to offer.
The one reason that may keep a client from preferring online delivery methods such as Google Drive is because of the concept that something tangible is more reliable. It also fires off our neurons on a feel of possessing the end result. In fact, this exact thought also gets some to opt for the outdated CDs/DVDs. Using flash drives to share data is a much better option in this case, as it has much less complications than the optical discs.
Buying wholesale flash drives is much more economical than purchasing CDs and DVDs that can hold the same amount of data. USBs are less vulnerable to damage as they cannot be scratched. A tiny flash drive can hold a large amount of photos and video files in it. Plus, unlike Google Drive users, you can access the media even without a working internet connection.
I’ve had a great experience with USB Memory Direct based in Hollywood, FL. They not only offer a plethora of styles including crazy custom shapes but also brand your flash drives. Laser engraving and hot-stamping add a nice touch to your final presentation.
They go beyond selling you fancy thumb drives, however. For starters, you can have your data preloaded at the time of shipping, saving you time. A USB drive can be pre-partitioned so that a portion of files are protected from customer’s accidental erasing. Another feature I like is assigning your flash drive a custom (think branding again) icon. All in all, this vendor wins my first choice among the physical media delivery strategies, and second overall.
Yet I caution my clients against relying on physical media only. The reasons are obvious—they may damage or lose it. An online backup is always a must. I instruct my clients to arrange for their own backups not to amass my liability.
Lastly, there are additional charges associated with physical media to pass on to the clients, e.g. product costs, shipping, and handling.
Using memory cards is another great way to share files without needing the internet, which is also one of the biggest upsides of using this medium. There is a range of different memory cards available out there, that go up in pricing and the storage capacity they have to offer simultaneously. Hence, you can choose just the right one for you and pay exactly for the storage you need.
Memory cards can be used with several gadgets such as DSLR cameras, smartphones, tablets and whatnot.
CDs and DVDs
Let me now discuss the oldest of the techniques that is still somewhat being used today despite all its shortcomings. The only reason I can think of why CDs and DVDs are not obsolete by now is that some older clients actually ask for them in their order. Why they do this is mainly because modern technology can sometimes be too intimidating for those who are not very tech-savvy. They have grown up using CDs and DVDs to carry their digital data and find it hard to adapt to any other method.
While keeping the clients’ preferences in mind is incredibly important to becoming an expert photographer, a professional must also carefully compare the functionality and practicality of each of their decisions. The decision to opt for CDs and DVDs can cause you—and your client—trouble in many other areas.
These difficulties relate to increased incurred costs due expensive hardware, difficulty in storing the large amount of discs it would require to save all that data, and incompetent backups due to the vulnerability of the hardware to damage. More than once did I already hear from clients reporting inability to open files on scratched discs.
Last, but definitely not the least, this article would be incomplete if I did not talk about the oldest of the old—printed photographs. Though the concept of photo albums seems questionable in the world of Instagram and Snapchat, it cannot be denied that these have their own special charm and aesthetic value.
Only a few professional photographers will today offer this option to you, exclusively. The reasons for this are again the high costs, the inconvenient storage, and the ease with which these can get lost or damaged.
The Takeaway Message
It is of utmost importance to decide which one of the media delivery strategies is best for you. To do this, understand what matters to you and your clients.
It is only after you have sufficiently assessed the requirements of your customers and the resources that you have at hand that you can best decide which way to go. Did you decide on anything else? Share in the comments below, please. Happy deliveries!