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Liberties at the heart of Google’s panoramic revolution

Google’s fast expanding Business View service is putting Dublin – and The Liberties in particular – on the map like never before.

Google. Photo: Dermot O’Shea

 

 

First, there was Google Maps. Then, with the addition of Street View, one could see beyond a two-dimensional plan to crystal clear images of streets and buildings documented through the tirelessly extensive photography of those adorable little Google cars whizzing by your living room window.

And, now, along comes Google Business View. Finally, one can actually delve INSIDE buildings, theatres, museums and famous tourist attractions to experience an all-access self-guided tour with the click of a mouse.

At the turn of the year, the Guinness Storehouse announced the launch of their own free 360° interactive tour. The megalithic mainstay of Dublin 8’s Thomas Street is certainly one of the more eye-catching locations to open its doors to a global virtual audience, but other interesting and unique corners of the city have also embraced Business View with equal success, if somewhat less fanfare.

Photographers across Dublin and the rest of Ireland have grasped the opportunity to gain accreditation in order to provide this ground-breaking service to businesses.

One such photographer is Lukasz Czajkowski, who has spent the past four years living and working in Ireland. One and a half of those have included offering Google Business View to local Dublin businesses.

With an extensive portfolio that includes the Lighthouse Cinema and Generator Hostel in Smithfield, Lukasz traces his entry into this specialised field back to his time studying at the Digital Skills Academy, which forms part of The Digital Hub nestled snugly opposite Guinness on Thomas Street.

“Funnily enough, the skills I learned at the DSA weren’t geared specifically towards photography, or what I’m doing now,” he explains. “It did help me spawn other business ideas like social media marketing, as well as hosting workshops. Photography is something I just fell into towards the end of my time in the DSA,” he adds.

He continues by describing the new professional landscape born out of Google Business View’s arrival on the photography scene.

“Competition is huge,” he concedes. “Some months I might get dozens of job offers, but some months I might get barely any. Prices are constantly being driven down with competitors undercutting one another for work.”

Dublin photographer Paul O’Connell echoes Lukasz’s sentiments.

“A lot of it depends on your own initiative,” he says. “Most of the time it’s down to you to go out and search for the jobs.”

A professional photographer for more than five years, Paul now specialises in Google Business View. His aim is to “get a variety of places” for his portfolio, which in turn can open up new doors into web design, in which he also excels.

“Yeah, the BIMM was something cool, something different”, he enthuses, referring to The British and Irish Modern Music Institute located on Francis Street, the epicentre of arts in the Liberties.

However he proceeds to lament the missed opportunities and laborious pitches to certain businesses and venues.

“When it comes to pitching jobs, maybe one in ten will reply with serious interest. But then, later down the line, various obstacles such as budgetary restrictions or simply making contact with the right person hinder any progress.”

Essentially though, offering Business View has more pros than cons for Paul.

“It definitely proved a worthwhile venture, progressing from tentative beginnings to a sort of explosion in interest and demand.”

In spite of the perceived difficulties in landing a contract, Google Maps product manager Omer Sommerich recently heralded the availability of Business View in some of the Ireland’s more iconic and tourist-centric locations, such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Aviva Stadium, Heuston Station and the Dundrum Town Centre.

John Hurley of the Dublin Airport Authority focused on the refreshed view of the airport now available to passengers, helping them catch their flight with greater ease.

“This mobile service permits the passenger to have a real-time view of their exact location and their connecting flight,” he added.

Another hugely important and historically cherished Dublin landmark is Glasnevin Cemetery and its adjacent museum, both of which were documented using Google Business View by Conor Blundell.

“Google Business view contributes a substantial part of my work,” he confirms.

Similar to Lukasz and Paul, Conor integrates his Google Business View service into a wider skill set.

“The market is very competitive. Some outfits offering 360° aren’t commercial photographers and will just do Google Business View as much as possible, whereas I try to offer them a little more as an all-round commercial photographer, such as promotional shots of their venues, digital marketing and social media strategies.”

With over one hundred businesses already covered, Conor hopes to continue his documentation of Dublin locations.

Some of the as-of-yet unexplored buildings and businesses in the Liberties are bound to come under the Google microscope, to the joy and anticipation of Dubliners everywhere.

 

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