Something that is frequently overlooked by photographers in the UK is the means to efficiently and rapidly deliver their images to clients.
Great Britain is served, in towns at least, by a relatively efficient broadband system, allowing all those photographers, designers and web production companies to disseminate their work rapidly.
Sadly, for many others like me who choose to live and work in delightful rural communities, the same story seldom applies. Clients are frequently flabbergasted when I have to make excuses about the urgent delivery of images, suggesting that they wait until late at night when the local internet is relatively quiet.
Ill-served by British Telecom (BT), using traditional copper-based 'narrowband' as I prefer to call it, until very recently I have had to put up with a service that has a typical download speed of only 3-5Mbps and somewhere in the region of 0.3-0.7Mbps upload speeds, which is an appalling service. After months of daily calls to BT to complain about the almost non-existent service the speed climbed to a dizzying 6.5Mbps and it now averages around 5-7Mbps although the upload speed has barely changed. This they consider perfectly acceptable.
Owners of businesses, often home-based, that are tempted to move from the depths of suburbia to the charm of rural Somerset are shocked to find that the delights of the small rural community are tempered by a massive slump in the standards to which they have become accustomed. Only a mere five miles from me users are used to 50-100Mbps super-fast broadband, making the delivery of images and video and the building of web sites amazingly quick and easy.
There are days when I really believe that taut string and a pair of tin cans - the height of communications technology when I was a child - would be a better option than the current BT offering. For photographers who wish to relocate to the depths of the countryside the first test of your intended new base should be to establish the current state of broadband and future plans for the locality.
My village's parish council have elevated fence-sitting to an art form. If the subject under discussion pertained to the efficient supply of mains water, electricity, sewage or swept roads my parish councillors would be in their element and determined to get things sorted out rapidly and efficiently. Sadly the same cannot be said for their endeavours when they are applied to pushing to get modern high speed internet access into the community. They spend inordinate amounts of time prevaricating, putting off things today in the hope that something - anything - might happen this year, sometime or most likely, never. But by taking that stance nothing is ever achieved. Some glibly state that, personally, they have no real need for faster internet yet disingenuously add as a rider that their wives, husbands or children are actually the ones that want a faster service. Taking their lead from the parish council many residents - and not always the older ones that one frequently associates with technophobia - prefer to sit on the fence until someone else takes the lead or sufficient numbers group together in the fight to achieve a better service.
For those of us who really need a faster service - and if people are honest that's really almost everyone who downloads films, streams movies, has children in full-time education, does a lot of on-line gaming or indeed has to fill out the multiplicity of on-line forms that we are frequently forced to use - it has been a dispiriting time.
Fortunately things are about to change as one service provider, Voneus, has garnered enough interest from those villagers who have still retained the spirit that made Britain great to agree to introduce high speed interent to the village using a fibre optic cable to our local church and then using ultra-efficient wireless technology to distribute the signal around the village and outlying areas, using rebroadcasting stations to maintain signal strength. We are now talking about speeds of up to 100Mbps duplex (download and upload speeds) that will really transform the way that I can deliver material to clients, never mind the the major spin-off of at last being able to use Cloud-based off-site data backup.
So if you really want to move into the countryside and escape the hurly-burly of overcrowded towns check the local communications before you make the jump or else you risk jumping from the 21st century straight into the dark ages.
Since this article was penned in February 2017 and it is now September, you'd think that I would be over the moon celebrating the new, ultra-fast, broadband - but you'd be wrong. Once again my village parish council has achieved the feat of preferring to wait - seemingly forever - in pursuit of the ultimate fibre, despite the fact that a bird in the hand is always worth two in the bush. It looks now as if I shall always be on the back foot with local communications, and the header image (originally chosen as a tongue in cheek view of things) is now closer to reality than I ever anticipated. I am now locked into receiving below average communications compared to much of the remainder of the UK for as long as the local council stick their heads in the sand.
Fast broadband for efficient image delivery - er, no!