Cloud computing has impacted all types of businesses, including photography. However, when it comes to photographs, not all types of cloud computing are equal. The kind that’s best for you can also depend on the style of the pictures you take.
Statista places the cloud computing market somewhere north of $146 billion, with a projected growth to $163 billion by 2021. With rapid increase comes additional options you might not have considered before. How can you know what cloud-based service is best for your business, and how might it integrate with what you’re already doing? Special thanks to Benjamin Davies for the cover photo.
Types of Cloud Computing
There are three basic types of cloud computing, including public, private and hybrid, which is a mix of the former two. A public cloud is accessible by anyone from anywhere, while a private cloud is for personal purposes and often links directly to a desktop folder.
You can break each of those categories into more specific models by looking at the available features. We’ve narrowed the most vital components for photographers down to six key uses that will help you grow your business and better serve clients.
1. Back Up Your Photos
The primary purpose of cloud storage is automatically backing up your most precious commodity — your pictures. Even the most careful photographer can experience a computer crash or a corrupted SD card and lose all the lovely portraits taken during a senior photoshoot.
Losing your goods costs you time and money, and it can also damage your reputation. Fortunately, you can set up your cloud storage so a folder on your computer automatically uploads your photos at pre-determined times. You can also set it to update whenever you add something new. Once they’re in the cloud, you’ll always be able to recover those photographs no matter what happens with your business computer or camera.
2. Create Convenience for Customers
Cloud computing offers seamless transfers and smoother collaboration between business partners. Storing photos in the cloud allows you to share the finished product with your customers. You can create individual password-protected folders for each client or watermark the images and upload them to a public page. As long as individuals have permission to enter the file, they can view the finished product at their leisure.
3. Support a Good Cause
If you want to take your business to the next level and attract like-minded people, choose a cause you believe in. If you’re a nature photographer, for example, you might decide to embrace an eco-friendly approach, providing your pictures in digital format first and print format second.
There are many green benefits to using the cloud, including less energy usage. A lot of cloud storage providers use sustainable methods to reduce their carbon footprints as well. Your Earth-loving customers will appreciate your efforts to save on energy consumption.
Photo: Helena Lopes
4. Update Database Instantly
If you sell prints or even digital copies of your snapshots online, a cloud-based website enables you to update your database instantly. If one of your prints sells, your database reflects the sale both online and in your backend inventory controls. You can easily see what you might need to print within a given day. Use your database to run reports and find out which types of photos sell the best. You can then capture more images likely to be popular with your customer base.
5. Prepare for Disasters
Photographers don’t always think about preparing for disaster, but the potential is there no matter where you live. You could suffer from a flood, fire, tornado, earthquake or another natural disaster. While you might lose your equipment, insurance will typically replace physical property. The problem is that your policy has no way of ascertaining the value of a snapped photo, so you’ll lose your intellectual property if you don’t make a plan now.
Uploading your photographs to the cloud places them in an off-site location. It’s also a good idea to back up your customer contact information and databases. If the worst happens and everything disappears, at least you’ll have a backup to help you hit the ground running once you replace your cameras and accessories.
6. Improve CRM
Cloud computing can improve your customer relationship management (CRM) skills. Photographers love to be behind the camera, but prioritizing marketing isn’t always easy. Placing data in the cloud allows you to access information and plan marketing campaigns around individual customers.
You can also provide a service where shoppers download their snapshots from any location. This method saves them the effort of driving to pick up an order. A remote virtual assistant can run your database for you, as well as contact customers to book sessions or ask if they need additional prints.
Photo: Matt Moloney
How Much Will Cloud Storage Cost Me?
The cost of cloud storage depends on how much room you need. You might be able to get by with some free services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, when you start. As your photo collection grows, you’ll need to invest in personal storage. There is no one size fits all approach, so talk to your chosen provider about the packages they offer.
Ask how your online sales might integrate with other systems they have in place. Then, select the option that works best for scaling up your business while falling within your budget.