Hiring a 360 Photographer? What You Need to Know
by Kyna Garrett, on Oct 3, 2019 9:00:00 AM
Virtual tours have become an exciting new marketing tool for all business types. From commercial office spaces to restaurants and retail, 360 photography is changing the way people consume information about businesses.
If you’re on the hunt for a 360 photographer, here’s what you need to know.
1. 360 Photography is much more complex than still photography
What is 360 photography exactly? It’s also referred to as panoramas (or panos). A photographer does much more than take a single snapshot. In some cases, a photographer may use a 360 camera like the Insta360 or Richo camera, however, most professional photographers opt to use a DSLR, take a series of photographs in a circle, and then stitch the photos together to form a complete panorama.
2. A 360 photographer may charge more than a traditional photographer
Because of the complexity and post-production involved, a 360 photographer will generally charge a higher premium than what you’d pay for a traditional photo shoot.
And if you want your individual 360 photos merged to create a full 360 virtual tour (which is often the case), there’s more manpower involved. However, the end result is quite impressive. Take a look at the Google virtual tour below taken by our team and created with high-quality stitched panoramas.
Another thing to keep in mind that a cheaper 360 photographer may not always be your best option. In some cases, even if you pay a higher premium for a virtual tour photographer, the photographer will include still shots and additional labor it takes to build a 360 tour.
| Related: Why Photography Matters in Marketing
3. Know what you want your 360 photographer to shoot
Not all virtual tour photographers are created equal. While some will capture your entire building at one standard cost, some photographers will require a shot list. If you don’t specify the areas you definitely want shot, some photographers even skip areas — and in the end, you’re left with that additional conference room left out of the virtual tour.
That means you need to know if you want your entire venue shot, or just some rooms here and there. If you own a multifamily community, consider having a couple model units shot (each bedroom type) and your amenities.
For instance, our 360 photographers will often capture all amenity spaces and each model unit type, though we will also confirm with a shot list.
4. Know which rooms or areas you don’t want shown
Just as you should know which areas you definitely want in your 360 virtual tour, know which areas your 360 photographer should avoid. Maybe your downstairs office space is under renovation and the 360 photographer should capture that at a later time. Or perhaps there are occupied units that should definitely be omitted from the tour.
No matter what, having someone on site walk with the photographer will fare better than allowing the photographer to wander aimlessly around the property. Though our virtual tour photographers are trained to shoot the areas included on the shot list, having someone present to at least walk the photographer around prior to the shoot can avoid any unwanted shots.
5. A 360 photographer is a trained professional
If you think you can hire just any photographer to capture 360s, or perhaps purchase a single-shot 360 camera, think again. Producing high-quality 360 images requires a professional skill set that comes with years of practice.
Most 360 photographers need at least 10-15 virtual tour shoots under their belt before being considered skilled. Our photographers have taken countless 360 photos, understand how far apart shots should be, and how to balance the photos.
6. Schedule your 360 photo shoot during off hours and close off spaces to the public
Some businesses want to show off their awesome staff (and we get it! That’s totally allowed, as long as it’s tasteful and people are staged nicely). However, in most cases, we don’t recommend people in the shots.
If you’re hiring a virtual tour photographer, make sure to schedule the photo shoot during off hours or when you’re closed. If you manage or own multifamily, close off community spaces for a few hours while the photo shoot takes place to avoid any humans in the shot.
7. A 360 photographer won’t tidy up or move objects out of the way
The one thing about 360 photos is that they show everything. From the outlets in the wall to the glare across the windows. Your virtual tour photographer won’t move any obstacles out of the way or stage anything. They are there to capture your business and make it look awesome, but it won’t look awesome if there is no preparation. Make sure cords are out of sight, sidewalks are clear and power washed, and all furniture (even outdoor) is clean and staged nicely.
If you do those things, your 360 photo shoot will go off without a hitch.
8. Lastly, make sure your photographer is insured
Photo shoots tend to be long (anywhere from 2-4 hours - sometimes longer) depending on the size of the property and shot list. Photographers also carry a lot of equipment around with them - tripods, backup cameras, large cases with camera accessories. If you end up with a 360 photography company that is not insured and someone on your staff happens to trip over any equipment, that cost is yours.
Look for a 360 photographer (better yet, a company) that has an insurance policy. Otherwise, you end up with liability issues and that’s a headache you don’t want during the excitement of a 360 photo shoot.