PHOTO CREDIT: Doug Mills / The New York Times
White House Photographer Gains Competitive Advantage with CradlePoint
PHS300 Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot Transmits Photos in Real Time to Photo Editors In New York
Photographer Doug Mills covers the White House for the New York Times (NYT). Until he discovered the CradlePoint PHS300 Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot, Doug’s previous approach was to shoot photos of a White House event until it ended, then remove the memory card from his camera and plug it into his laptop. Using a Wi-Fi or cellular broadband connection, he would upload the photos to the NYT photo FTP site. Photo editors would download his images from the FTP site (along with photos coming in from other wire and news services). Editors would choose photos from this incoming photo stream, crop selected images (if needed) and then place them in the print and/or web editions of the NYT.
Doug and his photo editors are under constant time pressure. First, there is the competitive imperative to get photos to the editors in New York so they can post them to the web version of the New York Times and scoop other news organizations. Second, Doug is frequently trying to get photos filed to beat the print deadline of the New York Times.
While the previous approach was working fine, there were a few drawbacks that the CradlePoint PHS300 solved:
- Doug had to wait until the end of an event before sending his photos (he could not risk taking the memory card out of his camera or working on his laptop and possibly missing a newsworthy shot).
- Working with a laptop in tight quarters—on Air Force One, in the Oval Office, on top of a ladder, in a crowd of photographers at a press gaggle, etc.—was difficult and clumsy.
- Frequently, Doug will set a remote camera at a White House event. For example, before a press briefing, he’ll place a camera with a wide angle lens atop a pole to catch a birds-eye view of the scene. Unfortunately, he cannot climb a ladder to retrieve the remote camera while the press conference is still underway. Thus, a great shot snapped at the beginning of the press conference could be a few hours old before he got the chance to download it from the remote camera and send to his photo editors.
For President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress, Doug used a CradlePoint PHS300 Personal WiFi Hotspot to send his pictures from his Canon EOS-1 D Mark III DS cameras to the NYT photo editors—virtually in real-time.
Doug was amazed: ”Within seconds of taking a photo, I would send it back to the photo FTP site and the editors would have it almost instantaneously. I could shoot and transmit my photos without taking my eye from the viewfinder or without being head-down in my laptop. I don’t know who thought of it, but it’s brilliant.
Doug had a Canon Wireless File Transmitter connected to his camera. As Doug took photos, he would view them on the camera’s LCD screen and tag them for sending. The Canon file transmitter would use the Wi-Fi hotspot created by the battery-operated CradlePoint PHS300 to send the files over the internet to the photo FTP site via Verizon’s 3G broadband network.
”The President’s speech started at 9:05, and we had a 9:30 deadline for our print edition, explains Doug. ”Instead of snapping one or two photos and then having to pull my memory card and put it in my laptop in order to get the photos back to New York in time for the deadline, I was able to shoot for an additional 15 or 20 minutes because of the CradlePoint. I got more shots back to our photo editors. That’s great, because editors love having more photo choices and layout options.
The PHS300 Personal WiFi Hotspot is a true plug ‘n’ play solution that creates a powerful Wi-Fi network almost anywhere. Connect all your WiFi enabled devices by simply plugging in your activated USB data modem and turning on the PHS300. It’s that easy! No more searching for a hotspot, you are one!
- Immediate. Doug explains: ”I turn on the CradlePoint and in less than 60 seconds, I can start transmitting. For instance, [UK Prime Minister] Gordon Brown was meeting with the President in the Oval Office. After shooting just a few frames, I hit ‘Send’ and transmitted the photos before I even left the Oval Office. It’s almost like going ‘live!’
- Portable. ”Because [the PHS300] operates on a battery, I don’t have to worry about power, says Doug. ”For example, I can I snap a photo of the President as he’s about to step onto Air Force One, and immediately file my photo before we’re ‘wheels up’ and out of contact.
- Pervasive. Doug says: ”At the Times, we use Verizon 3G Broadband, which is just about everywhere, says Doug. ”That means I can file photos using the PSH300 from just about anywhere.
- Compact. ”The PHS300 is the size of my Blackberry. I just put it in my pocket and I’m ready to go. says Doug.
- Simple. ”I had help from my colleague at McClatchy setting it up, reports Doug. ”Now, I just turn it on and go. It couldn’t be easier.
- Reliable. ”It’s worked flawlessly from the start, Doug reports.
- Affordable. ”The Times is a great company that is always willing to invest in tools that help us deliver the new better and faster, says Doug. ”But in these days of penny pinching, it’s great that [the PHS300] costs less than $180. There are a number of scenarios where the CradlePoint PSH300 can help photographers do their jobs better, faster and more efficiently:
- Breaking news. Photographers are no longer forced to set aside their cameras in order to file photos. This freedom can be critical at the scene of a breaking new story where photographers don’t want to miss ”the shot because they’re head-down in a laptop, filing photos. In addition, because they can file as they shoot, they can scoop competitors who are still filing the ”old way. Being first can mean the difference between their shot being on the front page versus someone else’s.
- Sports. Photographers under the basket at basketball games or on the sidelines at football games need to file their images. Instead of having to wait for a timeout or halftime, they can continue to shoot and file simultaneously. They can scoop the competition without missing a shot.
- Tight spaces. Space is often at a premium. Instead of using a laptop that might be cumbersome, the PHS300 provides high-speed web access in a device the size of a PDA that easily fits in your pocket.
- On the move. For news stories like political campaigns, where photographers are constantly moving from place to place, the PHS300 is ideal. With the PHS300, a photographer is ready to pick-up-and-go at a moment’s notice.
”I’m addicted to [the CradlePoint PHS300], admits Doug. ”I charge the batteries at night, then in the morning I put it in my pocket and use it every day. I can’t imagine being able to do my job without it now." says Doug. ”When another Times photographer saw me using it, he asked: ‘What is that?’ When I explained how I was using the CradlePoint, he said: ‘I have to get this!’ He’s already ordered two of them!