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Delivery options for digital goods – A review for photographers

A review of custom branded USB memory sticks by pro-photographer Wolf Kettler (c) Wolf Kettler

For some time we have been expecting digital goods, such as music and books, to be delivered immediately by download. This gratifies our desire for immediacy but does not quite satisfy in the way a physical product does. For photographers supplying digital images to clients, the choice is not quite so obvious.

In my practice I am lucky. For the overwhelming majority of my clients I produce photographs either as handmade exhibition quality prints on lavish baryta paper or as exquisite coffee table photobooks. My prints and books are delivered in smart and well crafted archival quality boxes.

For those clients, who require digital files, the choice of supply method has always been more difficult. I am talking about private clients. Editorial and commercial clients have entirely different requirements.

Over the years I have been through the usual choices: CDs, download and memory sticks a.k.a. USB flash drives. CDs are outdated now and have never been very satisfying because, however professionally labelled, they always looked somewhat home-knitted. Downloads are problematic because the setup and upload is relatively time consuming and customers routinely assume that they will have access to their files forever and sometimes simply cannot be convinced to download them and create a backup.

Memory sticks have always been a potentially attractive option: File transfer is quick and they are satisfying to deliver because they are a physical product. Except, that is, that they always carry the manufacturer’s branding unless you are buying in enormous quantities and don’t mind the extra cost of printing.

I was therefore delighted when usbmemorydirect.com asked me to try out their drives complete with my own branding.

The company offers USB flash drives in an impressive range of shapes. Crucially, they can be customised with your own logo. This is important as the presentation of the finished product is always a reflection of your brand. Physical products tend to be more satisfying and lend more value to a product than a mere download.

For my test, I chose the Tower design, a wooden enclosure, in the bamboo finish (see photograph above) and supplied a PNG file of my logo. JPG will work too. I do not know what normal turnaround is; my drives arrived within ten days. My logo was reproduced perfectly – all the intricate details are there and printing quality seems satisfyingly high. I tried scratching and rubbing the logo hard with a fingernail and it did not suffer. Be careful, though, with your choice of colours. Whilst the black text of my logo shows really well, the white graphic does not show clearly enough, but this was my mistake.

The actual drive is set well and firmly into the wood and is unlikely to come loose unless it is really badly abused.

I was supplied with USB 2.0 drives with a capacity of 8 Gb. USB 2.0 is largely obsolete now although it should not be overlooked. I never supply print-ready files to private clients because I do not want to risk my clients sending the files for Internet printing and invariably being disappointed. For accessing relatively small files, the speed differences between USB 2.0 and 3.0 are negligible. Similarly, a capacity of 8 Gb seems small but is in fact plenty for what I might supply to a private client.

If your demands are greater, usbmemorydirect.com manufacture their drives also in USB 3.0 with capacities of up to 128 Gb. Details are on their website. The cost of a small production run is affordable and you should be able to build it into your pricing.

There is precious little technical testing that I could do apart from repeatedly writing to and reading from the drives. I already knew that they would not come apart in my hands and I did not encounter any data integrity problems although this will depend on the intensity and duration of use. It is fair to assume that the usage of drives supplied for this purpose will in general not be of the gruelling kind.

The drives are supplied in individual cellophane bags, which can be sealed by way of a removable strip. This is a nice touch but I feel that the drives really need some form of presentation packaging. Regrettably, I considered this point too late, did not find out in time that this supplier offers exactly that and was therefore not offered any for review. Now that you know, you can avoid my mistake.

I was genuinely impressed with the quality of the product. It looks good, feels solid and is satisfying to touch. The custom branding makes all the difference and I feel that it supports the values of my brand; to create and supply something that is very special.

Supplier’s website: usbmemorydirect.com

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Disclosure: I was approached by usbmemorydirect.com to test their drives, and supplied with a quantity of the drives reviewed above with my branding at no cost. This has in no way affected my objectivity in writing this review. The comments and conclusions are entirely mine and independent, and represent only my personal opinions.


 

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A vegetarian winter warmer 🥄

Sometimes (often, actually), I like to photograph what I have cooked. Today, an ideal winter warmer, a comforting, vegetarian, easy to make and healthy potato soup with homemade rolls.

I made a larger quantity of this soup so that I could freeze some in portions. There is something immensely satisfying about having a ready meal that is, in fact, truly homemade.

The recipe for the soup is below. As with all my recipes, I beg you not to stick slavishly to the ingredients and quantities. I hardly ever make the same meal twice and if I do, it will be somewhat different. Recipes are okay for inspiration but otherwise boring. Experiment!

A winter warmer - vegetarian recipes by Wolf Kettler

Ingredients (for approx. 8 portions)

  • 800g peeled potatoes
  • 270g parsnip
  • 370g courgette
  • 250g carrots
  • 290g red or yellow peppers
  • Vegetarian vegetable stock (e.g. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Yeast flakes (e.g. Marigold Savoury Vegan Yeast Flakes)
  • Turmeric
  • Marjoram
  • Tarragon
  • Parsley
  • Vinegar

Preparation

Peel the potatoes, cut into manageable chunks, put in a pan, cover with water, add 2 tsp vegetable stock powder, cover and cook.

Clean the other vegetables. Steam the parsnip, courgette and carrots. Grill the peppers.

You want all the ingredients just soft enough to go easily through the food blender.

When your veg are ready, put them aside and let them cool down. Keep the stock, in which you boiled the potatoes.

Blend all the vegetables smoothly in a food blender. Add the stock that you kept.

Put everything back into a large pan, add water to achieve your desired consistency (around ½ litre, less if you want to make a broth), add the garlic, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Season to taste with a little sea salt, add another 2 or 3 tsp vegetable stock powder, 1 or 2 tbsp yeast flakes, a shot of vinegar, turmeric (perhaps ½ tbsp), and generous quantities of marjoram, tarragon and parsley, fresh or dried.

Serve with wholegrain bread. Let the rest of the soup cool over night, then freeze.

100g of soup work out at only around 44 calories.

And now repeat after me: Eadöpfesuppn – this is Upper Austrian for potato soup.

See more vegetarian recipes


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The taste of Christmas

This year’s Christmas baking chez Wolf:

Christmas baking chez Wolf (c) Wolf Kettler

Clockwise from top:

Vanillekipferl – the horseshoe-shaped biscuits. The biscuits with the walnut on top were always only known as Zaumpickte in my family, Golden Bells slightly blurred in the foreground, Moon Dust biscuits and Halfway Between Neaps And Springs with a saffron glaze and topped with aniseed.

See last year’s selection and more vegetarian cuisine.


 

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