Choosing the right Internet service as a photographer is crucial.  You have to look at the upload speeds, your office network and how everything is hooked up.  One piece could be causing the bottleneck.

Your files will be huge…and there are a lot of them

As a professional wedding photographer, you may shoot 1,000-2,000 images (or more) at a wedding.  In theory, you could end up with 1,000 16MB files.  If you are creating a printable online gallery for these on SmugMug or Pictage, then you will be uploading somewhere around 16GB of photos.

Here are the links in the chain that you should check to make sure you don’t have a bottleneck slowing down your upload.

Internet Upload Speed

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) might be Time Warner, Comcast, BellSouth or someone else.  Your best bet is to go with a cable provider rather than a DSL provider.  How do you tell the difference?   Generally the TV companies provide cable connections and phone companies provide DSL connections.

Cable is better than DSL because it is not dependent (as much) on distance to the hub as DSL is.  Thus, you should be offered faster upload speeds.

You should choose the cable company’s fastest available service.  In Denver, we are offered a 16Mbs service with up to 5Mbs in upload speed.  Realistically, the upload speeds never really exceed about 1.5Mbs.   This means 1.5 Megabytes per second.  Or uploading a 16MB file in about 10 seconds.  Multiply that by 1,000 files and you have 10,000 seconds or 2.7 hours.

Network settings.

This is where people get really confused.  If you are trying to upload files through your wireless modem in your laptop, you can expect some super slow speeds.  Most wireless modems in laptops are not built for speed in uploading 16GB of files.  Just not made for it.  Instead, you should hook a Cat 6 cable into the laptop and have the files sent lightning fast to the Net.

There are other factors that can be “in the way” of upload speeds.  Your wireless router in your home/office network.  Many routers could be the source of the speed slowdown, even hooked through a Cat 6 wire.

VoiP Phone

Do you use Vonage, or similar? If so, you may want to check the route of the Internet coming into your office.  Here is the typical set-up with VoiP.  Wire coming into house > Cable or DSL modem > VoiP modem > wireless router > computers.  That VoiP modem could be choking your speed for both up and downloads.

Here is my suggestion for hooking up a VoiP.   Wire coming into house > Cable or DSL modem  > wireless router > computers and VoiP.  Since a VoiP packet is only 150k or so (not very big) hook it up like any other networked device.  You will still get clear voice and you won’t be causing a bottleneck for your uploads.

Other suggestions

If you use SmugMug like me, you can export your photos to 2100 pixels on the long edge, 80% quality at 96 dpi and upload much smaller files to the web.  SmugMug’s system will still see these files as big enough for prints and allow clients to order them.  You set your “General Settings” so that you have a 1-3 day buffer prior to the files being sent to the lab and you can replace the small file with the full sized files based on the orders.

Thus, you will only be uploading the files that actually get ordered rather than every file from the wedding.

Reducing the size of a file for SmugMug upload has a negative effect however.  It doesn’t serve as a proper storage method long-term.  Personally, we use SmugMug as an offline storage area as well as a place for clients to purchase prints.  Thus, we still upload full-sized files.