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News & Insight

Interview with 1st Photographer to Ever Shoot Inside Google Data Center

By fotosiamo on October 19th 2012

Architectural photographer Connie Zhoue became the first photographer to officially be allowed to shoot inside where the Internet lives, the Google Data Center. In typical Google fashion, the warehouses and the server networks that run the internet giant are full of color and quirks. Even going around the centers involve riding around on colorful G-bikes.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhoue

These colorful pipes send and receive water for cooling our facility. Also pictured is a G-Bike, the vehicle of choice for team members to get around outside our data centers.

Popular Photography sat down with Connie to talk about her photographic background, how she won the bid for the Google Job, and how it was like to step into Google’s enormous facilities for the very first time. It seemed like an amazing shoot and Connie did a fantastic job with her images.

Did the scope of the settings make it a difficult shoot?

Not really. I’m used to photographing very large objects and grand environments. It wasn’t very complex for me to photograph the interiors or the exteriors because I’m so used to it. It was overwhelming and exciting, but it wasn’t very difficult.

At the first facility in Georgia, my escort and I had to ride an ATV around the site because it was just so big and we had all this equipment. It was fun. They have motor scooters, too. They have all kinds of fun stuff.

Many of the interior shots have an interesting glow about them. How did you manage to make the rooms look so dramatic?

Most of these server rooms are very well lit. When I was shooting, I actually had to get them to turn off all the lights on the floor and then peek around to see what was glowing. Then I’d take the picture and let the light bleed through onto my sensor.

You can read the rest of the interview pn Popular Photography. In the meantime, here are more images from the Google Data Center along with their captions.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhou
Inside our campus network room, routers and switches allow our data centers to talk to each other. The fiber optic networks connecting our sites can run at speeds that are more than 200,000 times faster than a typical home Internet connection. The fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhou
Server floors like these require massive space and efficient power to run the full family of Google products for the world. Here in Hamina, Finland, we chose to renovate an old paper mill to take advantage of the building’s infrastructure as well as its proximity to the Gulf of Finland’s cooling waters.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhou
Our Council Bluffs data center provides over 115,000 square feet of space. We make the best out of every inch, so you can use services like Search and YouTube in the most efficient way possible.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhou
A rare look behind the server aisle. Here hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated. The green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of our servers.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhou
Each of our server racks has four switches, connected by a different colored cable. We keep these colors the same throughout our data center so we know which one to replace in case of failure.

Google Data Center by Connie Zhou
Thousands of feet of pipe line the inside of our data centers. We paint them bright colors not only because it’s fun, but also to designate which one is which. The bright pink pipe in this photo transfers water from the row of chillers (the green units on the left) to a outside cooling tower.

To see the rest of the images, you can visit Google Data Center.

Finally, here is a video from the Google Street View team that gives you a cool viewpoint of one of the data centers.

The best part about this video? Google being Rick Rolled =)


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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa


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  2. Ed Rhodes

    so colorful!

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  3. Chuck Eggen

    Thanks Joe. Interesting article.

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