13 Jan How Photographers Should Be Sharing Photos With Vendors
In the world of wedding photographers, it’s often requested that we share some of our photos with vendors and for very good reasons. First, we are the ONLY staple vendor that actually produces an end product. WE are what ALL the other vendors need. Yes, I know video does too, but let’s face it – only a tiny percentage of weddings use it. Besides an officiant, we are the bare minimum vendor wise for a wedding.
Planners work very hard but the next day it’s done and gone. Flowers can be thousands of dollars but a few days later they don’t exist. Entertainment? Gone as soon as you leave the room. Catering, bar – gone in hours forever. Hair and makeup? Washed away in hours. Invitations? In the trash, forgotten. Jewelry, dresses? On show at home to be seen a few more times in a lifetime, never worn for full effect again. Photography? OUTLIVES US ALL.
All those other vendors and more, NEED our product. It’s what they use to market, show off work, build websites, advertisements, etc. In most cases, we as photographers can benefit as well, if not equally at least to a degree that we should be sharing. I’m not going to debate if we should be charging for sharing such a thing, that’s dependent on quite a few variables most importantly your relationship to each vendor. I believe it’s quite appropriate to share freely in some instances and charge in others, and that’s going to be up to you. What I want to go over is HOW you should be sharing.
I’m not just a photographer, I also do quite a bit of website work for friends in the industry. I do everything from simple blogs to sites for other photographers, wedding planners, florists, officiants, sports teams, retail stores, jewelers, high end leather furniture stores, you name it. I’m just wrapping up another wedding planner’s site and this has been a big one, processing over 800 photos from a few dozen different other photographers. I have seen first hand exactly what and how many are sharing the photos with vendors and have really seen what works best.
First of all, when sharing photos with vendors you need to know where they will be used. 99% of the time they are going in a simple gallery or blog post on the vendor’s website. Occasionally they might want a shot or two for printing such as an advertisement. In the latter case you can simply send whatever is appropriate, that’s not what this is about. It’s the 99% that go to a website that this is about.
Let’s break this down in to some simple points, so you can evaluate what you are doing and hopefully make some adjustments for the ease of the vendor and/or their webmaster.
- File size
- File naming
- Image dimensions
- Crop ratio
- Delivery method
There is no reason a vendor needs or should have to deal with 25MB photos. You should be delivering small, web optimized files. Light-room and Photoshop both have perfect exporting/save-for-web capability to compress images to appropriate sizes. If you are using no compression or very high you are just wasting space. These shots are not getting printed. They are showing fairly small on a screen. Set compression between 60-80 or equivalent to produce appropriate sizes.
Everyone has their own file naming conventions and there are tons of options and reasons for doing different things. I’ve seen everything from no naming convention, the files the same as they come out of the camera – to full SEO renaming and 30 word file names. Using keywords in file names has it’s place and advantages but not for what you deliver to vendors IMO. First of all, if you are simply sending duplicates of what is already on your site/blog, you aren’t going to benefit from the same keywords for a duplicate image on another site. At least make new ones but preferably simply use a short simple naming convention. Most importantly do not use special characters that are not web friendly such as brackets, periods, parenthesis, etc. Stick to letters, numbers, spaces and dashes. Doing something such as “so-and-so-photography-1.jpg” is perfect.
I have gone through everything from 150×150 tiny useless thumbnails, to equally annoying full resolution D800 files. Guys, these vendors are not printing posters. You are wasting so much time – on your end, the vendors, and whoever is working with the files, by not providing appropriately sized files. Stick with delivering files around 1000px on the long edge. That’s more than enough for a full width image showing on any site, small enough to easily upload quickly and not need any additional work. Again, Light-room and Photoshop provide the tools you need. A quick tip I tell vendors when they get such huge unusable files is to add them to an email draft, most email clients have a resize capability built in and it’s about the easiest ways the often tech-challenged vendors can deal with such problems.
I would say more than 99% of photos I have seen and worked with from all photographers are standard 35mm 2×3 (4×6) ratios. Yes of course there are a tiny percentage of photogs using medium format film formats with different ratios, but that’s simply a special case. The problem here I see is people delivering arbitrary crops, or photos they have added logos and borders too OUTSIDE the image. When vendors use our images in blog posts, galleries, real weddings, etc. it’s important that everything is clean and uniform. When you have a mish-mash of crops, things just don’t line up right on web-pages and it makes it very tough to go through everything, re-crop images or work around things. Simply delivering standard image crops is by far the best thing to do. If you are one that likes creative crops, at least create your images so they have white space around it to the standard, so they can be dropped in place without a problem. I wasted over 2 hours dealing with this on the last site I just did, doing it myself.
These days there is simply no excuse for any photographer not being able to deliver vendor size files in a matter of minutes simply and easily. Services such as Dropbox are fast and free, available to anyone. Create your files, ZIP THEM UP and put them up so the vendor can just download one easy file. Done! Do not mail CD’s, DVDs or thumbdrives. That wastes time money and there’s no point. If you’re only delivering a couple files email is fine of course, as long as you heed the previous tips! Trying to email 40 25MB jpgs doesn’t work for example! Likewise do not put up 3GB of files in Dropbox because you were too lazy to resize or cull. Yes that happened multiple times.