This is the beginning of a new Google Series that I will be writing about. This series of articles will talk about how I use Google services as a commercial photographer based in South Bend, Indiana. Please note, that I am not being paid by Google to sell services, these articles will be derived from an informational standpoint stemmed from my own thoughts and opinions on how I use these services in my own personal workflow as a commercial photographer. Lastly, in order to use these services, you will need to sign up for a free google account, if you already have a gmail account, then you have a google account.
Google Drive for Commercial Photographers
Let's start off by talking about what Google Drive is. Simply put, Google Drive a free cloud storage service that lets you store and access your files anywhere, on the web, on your computers hard drive, or on your mobile device, by downloading Google Drive app and using your Google Account. You can also go to https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2424384?hl=en to find out more about Google Drive in full detail.
With Google Drive, you get a generous 15GB of free storage for any types of file(s) you'd like to access. In addition, creating and using Google Docs, do not count against your 15GB limit. Now lets say, you start using Google Drive a lot, and you need more space. No problem, they offer additional cloud storage tiers for very reasonable prices; the best I've seen on the web actually. As of today's date, you can get 100GB for $4.99 a month up to 16TB for $800 a month, now that's going way overboard for cloud storage for about 99.9% of the population, but you get the point.
The interface is pretty self explanatory if you're familiar with web technology in general. It's easy to navigate, clean and functions just like any file folder on the hard drive of your computer. Speaking of file folders on your computer, by installing Google Drive on your Mac or PC it creates a folder called Google Drive. Anything you put inside that folder will be uploaded/synced to your Google Drive automatically and vice versa. This means that when you log into your Google Drive account via the web, you will see a mirror image of what you have stored in your Google Drive Folder on your computer. This is really convenient! It's similar to having an iMap email account; it's mirrored. So if you delete and email, it's reflected on all devices you have that email set up on. Google Drive works the same way.
Now that we know what Google Drive is, let's talk about it in a more practical application. Google Drive allows me to sync files that I'd like to access from anywhere. Being a commercial photographer and retoucher, I like to use my drive for that specific purpose. As a retoucher, I do a lot of compositing. I take products shots such as vehicles and create backgrounds from multiple elements. Sometimes, I need pavement, skies, trees and other objects to create a believable scene in Photoshop. This is where Google Drive can be your best friend. It allows me to take my library of images and elements that I've shot and collected over time, and gives me the ability to access them from anywhere. So this means, that I can be out shooting evening sunsets, download them at home, put them in my Google Drive folder, and access them at the office the very next day. So when I'm working on a composite at work, I have access to those sky images when I log in to my Google account. No need to copy them onto an external hard drive, spend time emailing images, or using FTP. They are right inside of Google Drive, with previews. All I have to do is download the images I need. Pretty awesome! (Important to Note: When viewing an image that you want to download, it's best to click the download button rather than clicking and dragging the preview onto your desktop. By clicking the download button, you will download the actual file you uploaded; not the lower res web preview)
How else could a commercial photographer use Google Drive?
I'm glad you asked! You can also use it to create documents; Google Docs to be exact. You can create word docs, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and even drawings. I personally enjoy the fact, that I can create a word document and store it in the cloud so I can access it anywhere. Lets say that I need to come up with a rental gear list for an upcoming shoot. I can start a new Word Doc inside Google Drive, while at the office, and call it "Gear Rental List for Upcoming Shoot," save it in the desired folder, and continue working on it from home later that night if I need to add anything else. Maybe you're putting a bid in on a job and you need to specifically outline the cost of shooting that job. You can simply create a new word doc, and start typing away, no need to own a copy of Microsoft Office. You get it for free with Google Drive! You can also track expenses, mileage etc by creating a spreadsheet. The possibilities are limitless.
Another great thing about using Google Docs, is the ability to convert these files to industry standard formats. For example, lets say I need to email the "Gear Rental List for Upcoming Shoot" to another person, but they use Microsoft Office. Simply go to File > Download As > Microsoft Word. It's that easy! Now you have a word document that you can send someone else to add or make changes to. You can also create a PDF if need be. This also works with Spreadsheets. You can export a file to work directly with Mircrosoft Excel.
Prior to using Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud), I would keep my Photoshop and Lightroom settings in Google Drive. That way, when I would be at home creating an action, or creating any kind of presets, I could keep a copy in Google Drive not only for backup, but to add to my computer at the office. (I will continue to use this process for Adobe Lightroom 5 at this time). Plus it's always great to have a backup copy of all of your develop module presets….just incase.
Now lets talk about file delivery. Lets say you want to deliver final files to a client, or colleague. (You may already have your own methods i.e. FTP, You Send It etc. No problem, this is just my suggestion.) You can do this by simply right clicking on a file and either emailing as an attachment, or if it's a large file, selecting "Share" and typing their email address. You can also specify what kind of permissions you would like to give them; Edit, Comment, or View. When you give them permission to "Edit" this will display a download button. If you are trying to deliver downloadable files to a client or colleague, this is what you want to select.
Some other quick ideas on ways to use Google Drive:
• Store purchased fonts
• Store educational video content that you can stream to your TV using Chromecast (I watch a lot of photoshop/photography tutorials)
• Any content or projects related to work that you need to update on the go
• PDF Product Manuals for gear that you own (always know where your manuals are)
• Share files with Clients or Colleagues (they can be found in your shared folder)
These are just some of the ways that I use Google Drive for my Commercial Photography needs. I'm sure this service will evolve over time and become an even better tool for storing files, as well as sharing and collaborating with others. I hope this helps inspire you to embrace and use technology in a way that you may not have thought possible. I'm sure you too will come up with your own unique ways of using Google Drive.
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