USB Delivery Versus Digital Download (+ A USB Memory Direct Review)

Technology is rapidly changing. In the 12 years I have been a photographer, I have seen photo delivery methods change from CDs to DVDs, to the near obsolescence of CD-rom drives in computers. While USB is the currently used form of physical delivery, there is a lot of debate among photographers whether they should ditch the drive in place of a download link.

What is the best way to deliver digital files?

USB Delivery Versus Digital Download

While I live my life very digitally, I still love the feel of a tangible item. There’s something special about receiving a physical item that is personalized to you. After so much time goes into creating the perfect images for my clients, I appreciate the sense of finality they receive when I can hand them a USB presentation rather than just sending them off into the internet. However, opting out of the USB drive and sending only a download link definitely has its place. (I actually offer options for both!)

Advantages of USB photo delivery

USB Delivery Versus Digital Download

Physical product – It’s nice to have something to hold! Receiving only a download link can almost make it feel like you didn’t receive any product from your session. A simple, elegant USB drive beautifully presented turns your photo delivery into a timeless keepsake. I have so many clients express how much they love the box they receive with their photos!

Download speed – You’ll be receiving anywhere from 50 images from a portrait session to hundreds from a wedding, all of which have fairly large file sizes. This can take some time to download depending on your connection speed. With a USB drive, your photos are all in one place and ready to print.

USB Delivery Versus Digital Download

Ease of making your own prints – If you like to get your photos printed in person, all you need to do is bring the USB drive down to your favourite lab, plug it into their computer, and all of your photos are at your fingertips! There is no need to dig up a drive of your own for transfers.

Forgetting to download your photos – You received your download link, gave everything a look… and then got busy and forgot to download your photos. In this time your gallery may expire, the website they are hosted on may go out of business, or your photographer may retire and take all of their online presence with them (I don’t plan to retire for many years, but one day I’ll need to!). With a USB, you have that copy of your photos even if you get super busy and forget to transfer them to your computer.

USB presentation from USB Memory Direct

USB Memory Direct Review

I really care about every element of photo delivery so I was thrilled when USB Memory Direct contacted me to partner with them. The Tower custom flash drive in pine wood was a great fit for my brand.

I love that they offer full colour logo printing directly on the drive. The magnetic closure keeps the cap firmly in place when the drive is not in use, without relying on any complicated flip or push mechanisms to access the USB. I’m excited to start sending these out with my photo orders!

USB Memory Direct Review

If you’re a photographer, you should give USB Memory Direct a try. They offer drives in many capacities, have wholesale options, and even carry USB 3.0 drives. (I am a huge fan of the speed of USB 3.0.)

How to present a USB flash drive

USB Delivery Versus Digital Download

The beautiful wooden USB drive isn’t quite enough for the wow-factor; what it lives in is important too! I deliver my USB drives in custom printed wooden boxes, featuring one of my favourite images from the photography session. This creates a gorgeous keepsake box that can be used to store all kinds of goodies and passed down in the family. If the photos never get printed and only exist digitally, there is still a tangible product to remember your session.

Advantages of digital photo delivery

As much as I promote having physical products from your session, there are many situations where a download works better!

Extended family sessions – You and your siblings pitched in for updated family photos… now who gets to keep the box? In multiple family groupings a download link is convenient for everyone. No one person is in charge of passing around a USB to family members. Each family can access the link and download their own photos independently of each other.

Annual family photos – If your family gets updated photos every year, you’re going to start building a collection of these wooden boxes and USB drives! As much as I love them, realistically you don’t need that many. I typically recommend getting the wooden USB at your first session and then switching to downloads each year afterwards.

Always on the move – If your family moves a lot, lives far away from where your session takes place, or plans to downsize, downloading your photos gets them to you quickly and keeps them on your personal hard drive, rather than worrying about misplacing your USB.

USB Delivery Versus Digital Download

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