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Building a business from the beach with Aquabumps

Seamless backups and collaboration liberated Aquabumps from IT headaches so they could grow from beloved sunrise photography into a lifestyle brand.

two people sitting on the beach

By Eugene Tan, co-owner of Aquabumps

For the past 22 years, I’ve photographed waves, surfers, and swimmers at Bondi Beach, Australia, during sunrise. Turning that photography into a business with my partner and commercial director, Debbie—including a newsletter, gallery, creative agency, and lifestyle brand—has allowed us to bring a bit of that beach lifestyle to hundreds of thousands of people everyday. 

Beautiful sunrise photos may sound simple, but in reality we run a pretty complex operation at Aquabumps, with decades of photos to archive and multiple channels running content to reach our followers. We use Dropbox to organize our workflow, foster open and quick communication, and grow our business. Here’s a look at how it all gets done.

Six people on the Aquabumps team in the art gallery
The Aquabumps photography gallery

Space for everything

Ten years ago, I spent 30 percent of my day backing up our servers, making sure they synced correctly, and searching for lost images. As a small business with a team of eight, I had to manage it all myself, and it was stressful. Now that we’re on a Dropbox Business account, I can come back from the beach, and quickly dump my photos onto the server, which automatically uploads to Dropbox. I’m free of IT headaches, and sleep better at night knowing our catalogue of photography is safe, secure, and ready to share. 

Organization made easy

I take between 80 and 500 photos a day, and we ascribe a unique code to every shot so that we can pull anything up quickly from the hundreds of thousands of photos we have saved in Dropbox. People frequently walk into the gallery and say, “I’d like a print of this shot from 10 years ago.” That immediate access to our archives is what makes our business sustainable.

Uge Tan next to his large photo of a pool

Access from anywhere 

When the gallery closed during the pandemic, our head of production and gallery manager still had access to my hi-res files for our social channels and prints. And when the beaches closed, we were able to dig into our archives and find some real gold in overlooked art to keep business humming. (It’s how we found artwork like Working in the Cloud, which is now a hot seller.) With Dropbox, our entire staff has real-time access to the most recent version of files, no matter what continent they’re on. 

Instant, global collaboration 

Dropbox has empowered more authentic commercial opportunities and collaborations with brands like Speedo, Havaianas, and even the Australian Ballet. This kind of work involves different stakeholders across different regions and time zones. Email creates clutter, and we wanted something more interactive than sharing files and documents back and forth. Dropbox Paper allows us to communicate quickly when we need answers, but also leaves room for all collaborators to pop in and out as necessary. This informal collaboration feels like we’re all in a little creative hub, not just sitting and staring at computer screens. 

Uge photographing in the ocean
Uge and Debbie Tan

With Dropbox, we can take a 20-terabyte archive with us, wherever we go.

Dropbox has eliminated major sources of stress for our business, and given us hours of our day back. We can now work on the parts of our business that actually matter: perfecting our creative process, and coming up with new ideas to bring Aquabumps, and a bit of the beach, to the rest of the world.