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Switching to Cloud Storage to Ready Our 80-Year-Old Photography Company for the Future

May 24, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Steve Nelson, Co-Owner, FayFoto Boston Inc.

We’ve been serving the still photography needs of businesses in the Boston area since the 1930s, all the while constantly adapting to keep up with new technology. Whether it’s transitioning from film to digital photography and computer applications, to pivoting away from phone sales and into building an effective web presence, a lot has changed since FayFoto’s beginning (and not just that the Red Sox have won a few World Series).

Today, our clients come primarily from the corporate sector and include legal and financial services companies, marketing and PR firms, and non-profit organizations. We provide the photography these businesses need to successfully tell their stories. Typical assignments can consist of tabletop product photography, business and executive portraits, or coverage of meetings, seminars or client events. FayFoto’s a regional company – big in Boston, but no global enterprise. We’re by no means early adopters, and our technology budget, as a small business, is predictably modest. But we have learned some affordable methods to help us survive and thrive in an ever-more technological world.

The fact is that the phone doesn’t ring like it used to – we now conduct many business activities using email, and our website is where we showcase our capabilities and draw in clients. Since 1997, we’ve relied on DreamHost to host our site, which has provided us certain advantages in both winning new business and better serving current clients. Of particular note, our hosting provider gives us the ability to easily post small, temporary image galleries on our website that clients will use to review photos and make selections as necessary. More recently, we’ve expanded to use DreamHost’s new DreamObjects cloud storage service to make our images available to clients online, a vast improvement over previous methods.

Prior to DreamObjects, we would provide final images to our clients via optical or flash media that we would have to physically deliver. Any given assignment might mean data sizes ranging from a 500KB jpeg for a single portrait to 4GB of images for a multi-day conference, an amount not all solutions could handle adeptly. What we needed was a fast, inexpensive way to make these deliverables available to clients. We had been forced to use couriers and FedEx to deliver physical media, but found those services could offer either speed or low cost, not both. At the same time, we discovered the unfortunate fact that many of our clients in large legal or financial services companies are not allowed access to services like Dropbox, and their mail servers will reject or quarantine .zip email attachments, closing off those avenues for image delivery. Making DreamHost’s offering even more valuable to us was the timing: DreamObjects was announced just as we learned that our previous server for asset delivery didn’t conform to the terms of service. This made our decision to move to DreamObjects for storing client assets a simple one.

It’s worked. Our clients have had no trouble accessing their images from our DreamHost-powered site, which makes access as easy as clicking a download link included in a secure email. On our end, we upload our finalized images to DreamObjects using Panic’s Transmit software, copy the zip file URL (in Transmit as well), and send the client the link for their download. We explain in the email that the link will be available for one week, and after a week we manually delete the file (we could automate this, but haven’t because some clients will plead for extra time). With this one-week policy, we’re able to keep the use of our DreamObjects storage low, and, as a result, extremely economical. This system solved our asset delivery needs, and has proven perfectly reliable and easy, both for us and for our clients.

Looking into the future, we’re considering enlisting DreamObjects as the solution for long term archiving of clients’ images. So, not as a backup (which we do currently keep, just not in the cloud), but for client access and convenience. We also have thoughts about how to streamline customer service on our website, and further differentiating ourselves by the frictionless, reliable, and consistent experiences we’re able to offer. But as a regional company without an IT department, being able to grow our business in a competitive market because of new technology (and not in spite of it) has been vital to FayFoto’s success.

Steve Nelson is the co-owner of FayFoto Boston Inc., one of Boston’s oldest and largest commercial photography businesses.



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