Thursday, November 4, 2010
We're thrilled to share stories from the people and organizations that use Google Apps to explore, discover and push the boundaries. These businesses truly embody the freedom enabled by the cloud.
Our first Apps Adventure profiles Mark Thiessen, a 20-year veteran photographer for National Geographic who works on the front lines of some of the world’s most powerful fires.
I wanted to become a photographer because it allowed me to see parts of people's lives and lifestyles that I've never seen any other way. What I love about my job is not so much getting my pictures published – that used to be really important to me. For me, what I love are the people I get to meet along the way. They say it's the journey, not the destination that's important, and that is so true.
A lot of people think I just go on vacation and take pictures. That couldn’t be further from the truth. To impress picture editors who have seen the best pictures in the world, I need to show them pictures they’ve never seen before. At National Geographic they give you the time and resources to go do stories no one has ever done before.
I have a deep personal passion for photographing wildfires and the people who fight them. A couple years ago I went to Russian Siberia. Russia is twice the size of the United States and two thirds of it is covered in timber. They have about 4,000 smoke-jumpers and their job is to put out fires anywhere they’re burning.
We flew in helicopters with them for hours over vast forest, with no signs of human life. There’s no place to land, so they rappel out of helicopters straight into the fire with nothing but the metal part of a shovel. Then they’d whittle a handle in five minutes and get to work. These guys do it for barely any pay – no hazard or overtime pay. We were there for five weeks, in the middle of Siberia, with mosquitoes the size of jet planes all over us. It was terrible, but it was such a great story.
No one else had done that story. There are so many aspects to fire that intrigue me – the people who fight them, the forests’ need for fire, the human impact, people’s desire to build in fire-prone areas. Most people don’t even know the Russian smoke-jumpers exist, but with National Geographic, I get to experience their lives and share their experiences with the world, and Google Apps helps me do that.
With Google Apps my data is backed up in the cloud. So no matter what happens to my laptop, I know that my data is safe. That’s important with a job like mine. Google Apps allows us to do things we never could have done before. We can collaborate on a master plan for a story, we can share a calendar with story deadlines and shoot dates, and because of Gmail’s search capabilities, I know I can find any email whenever I want it. Google Apps allows me to be flexible. I can access emails or my documents on any computer or any mobile device. That’s critical when I’m out in the field.