For the benifit of other newbies out there, I thought I'd summerise the steps you have to do to sell your photos via woocommerce download, it took me a few goes and research to acheive because before this I knew NOTHING about FTP!... lucky I had Devins help!
Bascially you create a new folder on your server via FTP to hold all of your high res images. Then just use a lower resolution image optimized for web when creating and adding product images. You should be able to upload these without issue and it will improve the general speed of the site.
Then, you just put in the url to the photo download into the woo commerce field for it. This way wordpress doesn't have to be involved with upload or managing your actual product photos and its just you+FTP.
So how to do you this?! You will only need to know how to navigate to your FTP on your host, just ask them if you need help!
1. where do I put the images?
Basically, you will have to duplicate your images - have a small res version (i include my copywrite on it) for the product page, and the high res version.
- For your product page, you use the green upload button to add your low res image.
- For the image that will be downloaded, if you're like me these will be 7-8mb files.... the upload just won't handle this size if your host (we use dreamhost.com) or internet connection is like mine - it'll hang and give you Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in blah blahmedia.php on line 258. (if you're an IT expert you'll know how to adjust your php files, but that's not me!)
So what you need to do is use FileZilla or similar to act like your Windows 'my computer'.... filezilla has a great help file that opens when you download it, but basically you need to know your host name, and password (ours was emailed to us when we signed up). This opens your FTP folders so you can add the images to it. You copy the file off your hardrive and paste it into your FTP folder (I had to use filezilla to create a new directory within mydomainname.com, anywhere is fine (it's like your wordpress uploads folder that you'll also see, but you're keeping the images seperate so you use your own folder)
Your host might be a bit different, and allow you to create folders through your host.I had to contact mine, because at first I couldn't see the folders I'd created when I connected to ftp via my hosts webpage. But you are going to have to use filezilla or similar to upload the images... this doesn't have a max upload time, so you won't get errors!
At this point, you might think you should see the images from your new FTP folder in the wordpress media library. Wrong. It seems like it's a one way street - you see see the images uploaded from w/press in your FTP uploads folder, but not vice versa.
So you have two choices... either use a plugin to talk between them, or simply copy the url of your images (this is what I did).
How to copy the url
The woocommerce product page has a section for product data, you'll see a filename field. Here is where you put the url of you image.
1. first copy your url.... in filezilla or your ftp, find the image you want.
2. right-click and select 'copy selected url to clipboard.
3. In the product page, click upload a file
4. select from url
5. right-click and paste in the url.... it's going to have lots of crap you don't need at the front, you just need to keep from yourdomainname.com/name of your new folder/name of your image.jpeg, and add a http:// to the start. If you've done it right, the url field will have a green tick.
6. Give the url a title (not sure where this is used tho)
7. Click link to image - this will populate the url you just added.
8. Click insert into image
9. Done! Save the product and buy it (sell for $0 to test this), to check your download works.
How does a customer download my file?
Once they buy the photo, the screen will show a download file link, and this will also be sent to their email.
Click the link, and it will ask if you want to save or open - both options will download the image, and it's the original high res version :)
Hope this helps. Once I have finished my site I'll post it for reference :)