Backup! Backup!

Have you ever lost precious photographs? Some treasured family photos which you accidentally erased, or can only find on an unreadable hard drive? It’s a fear I share, except for me it’s not the photos of personal memories I worry about so much as the corporate website or brochure photos I’ve taken.

Perhaps worry is too strong a word, but it’s true that the minute I’ve finished taking photos for a client, I start taking precautions to ensure the safety of the photos.

Much of my work could be re-shot in the event of a disaster, but think of the inconvenience for my clients to have to re-organise colleagues for a head shot session. It will have been difficult enough to coordinate diaries the first time around; it might prove even trickier the second time. Other events are impossible to re-stage, which means image security is even more critical.

For starters, let’s take the journey back to the office. If I need to stop at a service station (or anywhere) on the way home, I’ll make sure I remove the memory cards from the cameras and take them with me. The same goes for any occasion on which I need to leave my car unattended. In the event of a break-in, all my kit is covered, but I don’t want my client’s photos stolen too.

Once I get back to base I’ll transfer the images from the memory cards and onto my laptop. I duplicate them onto an external hard drive too, so if the laptop suddenly dies I’ve already got one backup copy of the work.

I’ll do my captions and edits on the laptop version, but once that’s done I re-write the work to the external drive again. I then back up the external drive to a duplicate drive before erasing the job from my laptop. In the meantime, I’ll upload the edited high-resolution jpeg files to Photoshelter, which is where my clients access the files from.

At this point I’ll format the camera memory cards ready for the next job, but as you can see, by this stage the image files always exist in at least two places, with the high-res jpegs providing a third backup should both my external drives fail/go up in smoke.

For additional security the primary external hard drive stays at the office and the backup version comes home with me, so in the event of flood, fire, burglary, act of God, I should (SHOULD) be safe in the knowledge that one copy will always survive whatever disaster befalls the other.

All of this means that not only have I minimised the risk of not being able to deliver client images in the first instance, but that should the client subsequently lose the work, I should be able to re-supply it promptly.

Of course if a massive Solar flare strikes Earth, all my hard drives will get wiped. But then so will most of the internet and our energy supplies, water and transport… in fact modern life as we know it will come to a sudden halt and the army will be on the streets fighting pitched battles in a zombie apocalypse.

Some things you just can’t guard against.

Real People in a Digital World

When I think of the kinds of businesses which rely on stock images to illustrate their websites, I’d probably place IT support companies quite high in the table. I mean they’re into digital, noughts and ones and code, which has nothing to do with the real world, right? Well not really, but that helps explain why so may IT websites look the same – slick, but ultimately sterile.

Perhaps this is because IT companies don’t normally perceive that their clients would be interested in seeing anything beyond the service offer and price structure. Perhaps they don’t think personality is important, but as Jules says in Pulp Fiction, “Personality goes a long way”.

Ok, so Jules ends up machine-gunned to death on the toilet, but don’t let that put you off showing your personality! Sorry, this went downhill quickly. Let’s get back on track.

Certainly if you’re happy to run your business without properly engaging with your clients, I don’t recommend spending money on anything other than cheap stock photos, but one recent job reminded me that businesses with a positive culture will always benefit from featuring their own people in their website photography.

Netitude is a business which has grown fairly rapidly and is still expanding. Given it’s based in my home town of Frome, not known (yet) as the Silicone Valley of Somerset, Netitude is one of those business which most locals probably aren’t all that aware of, but which is doing remarkable things within its sector.

When the marketing assistant Lily got in touch the broad brief was to spend some time in their office working through a series of images to illustrate various areas of their website which needed a refresh. All the photos would feature real members of staff in genuine roles, not models pretending to do what Netitude does and not in an office potentially 1,000s of miles way.

The character of the businesses also shows through the images because the culture within Netitude is such that everyone I photographed knew why I was there and how to present themselves – friendly, approachable and professional. This character and culture is so important when communicating with current and potential clients.

Now rather than showing you a gallery of the images I came away with, I think it says far more to show the results in context which is why I’m showing a selection of screengrabs here. Alternatively, head over to the Netitude website for more information on what they do.

If you’re in the IT sector, don’t hide behind a bland website. It doesn’t matter what service people buy, they buy from people and if they can see your team, this helps build confidence. Of course I’ll be happy to discuss your options, so drop me a line any time via tim@timgander.co.uk.

The Need for Speed

It’s been a few years since my last major website redesign, but my current site appears to be working very well for me. Clients seem to like the simplicity and ease of access, so I see little point in making any design revisions for now.

However what I have become aware of over the last few months has been a gradual, but noticeable, slow-down in loading speed and that, I think, isn’t good enough so I’ve spent some time tackling that this week.

I know my clients are busy people, and a new client looking to find out more about me doesn’t have time to sit there waiting for the homepage to load. They may be looking for a photographer with my style, skills and qualities, but if they can’t get in to see the work, they may never find out what I can do for them.

So I’ve worked with a colleague to do some behind-the-scenes tidying up and optimisation, and I have to say the difference it’s made has been quite startling. It’s possible, depending on how you came to this blog article, that you will have noticed too.

There are still a few more tweaks I need to make; optimising key images is probably the main one, but also as I update and replace images I’ll be fixing those issues by default.

On which note, what I hope to do next is give the content a bit of a polish. Again, it’s been a little while since I updated the galleries with more recent work. I try to keep on top of this, but what with corporate jobs, admin and launching my fine art print site takeagander.co.uk I’ve had to prioritise tasks.

I’m always grateful for feedback, especially from business clients who are always my priority when it comes to setting out how the website works, so do feel free to throw bouquets or brickbats my way so I know how I can do things better.

After all, this website doesn’t exist to massage my ego; it’s there for you, the business client, to find out quickly, easily and with high quality presentation what my photography can do for your business.