Why 360° Photography?
Technology evolves so much that you may find fads appear and can fade away so quickly that they are barely remembered. However, when new technology sticks and is effective, it changes the way we as an audience consume content forever.
If you want to see examples, head to Google Photos – 360° Photos, it has many pages of great examples of 360° content.
On this page, we explore the power of 360° photos and videos, how to take 360° photos and videos, how to edit 360° photos and videos as well as take a look at the equipment you’ll need and some essential apps.
If you have always been curious about how to take 360° photos and videos, read on for a one-stop overview of this latest revolution in photo and video technology.
Above: 360 is used all over the world.
Getting Started with 360° Photography
Do you want one simple reason to explore 360° photos and videos?
360° gives your audience a more ‘complete’ view and, with the increasing popularity of smartphones, they have more ways to enjoy your 360° content.
Ever since Facebook, the biggest social media platform, began to promote 360° photos, the concept has been rapidly spreading. Simple apps allow anyone to shoot, share and view 360° content. In this guide and on the internet, there are many tips on how to take 360° photos and videos.
What Are 360° Photos and Videos?
According to TechTarget, a 360° photo is “a controllable panoramic image that surrounds the original point from which the shot was taken. 360° photos simulate being in the shoes of a photographer and looking around to the left, right, up and down as desired as well as sometimes zooming.
“The viewer clicks any point on the image to drag it in the desired direction.”
So, how exactly does 360° photography work? A number of segmented panoramic photos are taken and then stitched together to form a full circle surrounding the centre point. The right application will take care of stitching those pictures together.
For example, one recommended application is Hugin. The application is free and does a great job of collecting the photos together into onto 360° photo showing every angle. Meanwhile, some digital cameras can do the stitching process internally.
Four Types of Panorama Photo
There are four types of panorama photos, each type has its own properties and features so your choice should be based on the purpose of your photo and the environment you want to shoot.
This is the most basic one. Partial panoramas follow the technique of stitching regular photos side-by-side to form one picture with a wider view.
Cylindrical panoramas also follow the same technique of “stitching,” yet they are different from partial panoramas in that you need to make sure the first and the last photos overlap. These panoramas cover 360° around but not up and down.
Spherical panoramas are those which capture the full 360°- view in addition to up and down. The photographer and the tripod do not appear in the picture frame.
Stereoscopic panoramas have different images taken simultaneously with the lenses apart, to give an impression of 3D.
What are the reasons to choose 360° Photography?
Like most photography, capturing 360° photos can be done using any basic camera. Smartphones work well for everyday use, and they are user-friendly, however, exceptional photos need special equipment.
Best 360° Camera For Photos
When wanting to create this type of content, you should ensure you have the best camera to shoot high-quality 360° photos and videos. For commercial use, you might need a high-quality digital camera with at least 15 megapixels. Professional photographers recommend using a DSLR camera with a fisheye lens.
We take you through some of the best 360° cameras recommended by us and Google!
How to Create a 360° Photo
How to Take 360° Photos and Videos
Before learning about the different tips, tricks and apps that can help you enhance your 360° content, you need to learn how to take 360° photos and videos yourself. With technology continually advancing, you can now take 360° photos and video content with cameras, smartphones and even a 360° camera that is completely dedicated to 360° content.
Depending on the equipment you use to take your 360° photos and videos, the process will change in how to do it to create the best content.
Once you follow these guidelines, you will know everything on how to take 360° photos and video content and how to create a 360° image online.
How to: Tips and Tricks to Shoot 360° Photos and Videos
Shooting 360° photos and videos is simple! However, some things to watch out for…
What Should Not Appear in a Picture
Firstly, remember that these photos will cover ALL the surroundings! That includes you (the photographer) and the tripod. Make sure that these do not appear in your photo. Ie. keep in mind that you will have to stand behind the camera at all times.
That will require you to move and change your position as the camera moves. Of course, you will find it way more comfortable to use a fish-eye lens since it requires minimal movement on the photographer’s behalf. A smartphone camera on the other hand, will mean you have to be more flexible and move a lot while taking shots.
Meanwhile, 360° videos are more challenging because, unlike photos, you will not be able to pause and change your position with every shot.
Secondly, you will need to make sure that your camera is steady while rotating. If you are not using a tripod, pay attention to keeping your hand steady. This is especially important while shooting 360° videos.
Thirdly, 360° photos are either two cameras attached or a number of photos stitched together. Therefore, a “parallax effect” occurs sometimes. A parallax effect is a difference or a displacement in the positioning of two neighbouring shots. You should watch out for the gap between the photos and make sure they all join cleanly.
Fourthly, while capturing a shot, always think of its placement. A mesmerising view is great, but the picture also needs to look good everywhere. For example, if you find a great view to capture, yet the other surrounding sides aren’t as appealing, then maybe a regular photo would do just as well.
Last but not least, most serious photographers suggest that you should take 360° photos in RAW format with the camera in manual mode. This ensures the best possible quality for your pictures.
More Advanced Equipment and Tools
A Small and Stable Tripod
360° photographers usually recommend a small and stable tripod to achieve high-quality pictures. As mentioned earlier, stability is crucial during shooting 360° photos. For that reason, a tripod becomes a must to capture the moment easily and more efficiently.
Also, a small tripod is recommended because it is much easier to hide than a large-sized one. A tripod also gives an extra height to your camera which is usually a good thing.
This is another tool to achieve stability. A remote switch is specifically useful while shooting 360° videos. You can control all the movements of your camera or pause without even having to touch your camera.
How to Stitch 360 Photos
When a panoramic 360° photo is displayed flat, it can look quite odd and distorted so not fully giving the full feel of the 360° angle.
This is when the term “stitching” comes into play when editing your 360° content. There is a range of software available both online and on desktop that can be used to stitch 360° photos for you.
The stitching process gives your image a spherical appearance and enhances the 360° aspect therefore providing more authentic and high-quality content.
There are different software options available when you want to learn how to stitch 360° photos. The main process behind the stitching technique is collecting your multiple panoramic images created using your digital camera, smartphone or 360° camera and “stitching” them together.
This creates a domed-like effect providing your 360° photos or video a more authentic quality and allowing the viewer to be submerged in the 360° experience.
Paid Applications for Stitching 360 Photos
PTGui is a really nice programme for stitching panoramas. It is fast, automatic, and powerful. The application is user friendly and it offers several packages that suit the needs of different types of users.
Kolor is a great stitching software, especially for creating virtual tours and 360° videos. Huge names such as DreamWorks and Apple have used Kolor. Their website is also rich with information and tips about creating 360° tours and videos.
360° Photo Apps for Smartphones
Don’t have the budget for advanced 360° cameras and gadgets? On smartphones, you can learn how to take 360° photos with an iPhone or Android, using these apps that we recommend.
Sphere is an outstanding, free application specially designed for 360° photos and virtual tours. Users can capture 360° spherical images and share them right away through the app. It also works as a platform for sharing 360° photos.
Since the app is like a community of photographers, users can follow their favourite photographers and get their latest shots on the newsfeed.
Cycloramic is a paid app available for Apple users only. There are multiple special options with this app:
- It’s fast – 360° panorama takes 10 seconds, while a 180° panorama takes only 5 seconds.
- Capacity for high-resolution images – up to 42 Megapixels.
- Hands-free mode – allows an automatic phone rotation covering the whole 360°. All you need to do is place your phone on a smooth surface.
Panorama 360° is among the most popular 360° photo apps available on Google Play and the App Store. Why is it popular? It is user-friendly and free. With a click of a button, users can move around and capture the view.
Users can also share their photos on different social media channels via Panorama 360°. The application offers more features such as HD Capture, Watermark Remove, and Dropbox Sync. Of course, users can choose to purchase these additional features or settle for the basic set of features.
How to Take 360° Photos – iPhone
To take 360° photos on an iPhone, there are a few different options you can choose.
Using the built-in camera on your iPhone, if you open the camera app and swipe two clicks to the left, you will be given a panoramic image option. To create your panoramic image, tap the shutter button and move along the light following the direction on your screen.
360° Camera App
As previously mentioned above, there are a few great apps on the market to allow you to create 360° photos and content on your iPhone.
Google Street View
By opening the Google Street View app and tapping the “Create” option, this will allow you to take a series of photos. When you select “Done”, the app will stitch these images together to create a 360° photo and you can save your new 360° photo in the “Private” tab option on your phone.
Can You Edit 360° Photos?
To achieve the best quality and most professional looking 360° photos, editing your images with different software and tools is the best way to go.
Editing your 360° photos using software such as Photoshop or Lightroom is not the same as editing a regular image as when editing, the software may find the seam within the image. This can alter the 360° scrolling feel of the image so you should ensure you take caution and follow additional steps to edit it for the best 360° quality.
These steps include:
- Applying universal edits
- Render images as a 360° layer
- Navigate through your 360° image.
How Can You Use 360° Photos and Videos for the Benefit of Your Business?
If your business has an office or location to promote, a virtual tour is an essential consideration. If a photo is worth a thousand words, a 360° photo is worth even more!
Many businesses can benefit from showing off their internal design and architecture. Businesses including interior designing, hotels, fashion, art, restaurants, cafes, stores, co-working spaces, or basically any business where physical location is a vital part of the service or product provided would benefit from 360° content.
Businesses in the tourism industry are a perfect example of how beneficial 360° photos and videos can be. Since tourism depends on attracting tourists to jaw-dropping locations, virtual tours are a great way to tempt potential visitors to make a booking and visit your location.
Expand on Social Media
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say social media has changed the marketing industry forever. Although 360° photos have been around for about a century, they reached a revival when Facebook began to heavily promote the technology.
Why is this good for businesses? Well, showing off your product from different angles in a gallery of photos is much less engaging than showing the same product in one single image. A 360° dimension lets your customer step ‘into’ the image and have control over the view.
Smartphones in particular mimic the exact action of having a product in your hand, bearing in mind that smartphone users represent more than 50% of online shoppers.
If you haven’t included 360° photos and videos in your social media strategy yet, you should reconsider it. It has zero or very little additional cost and will catch the eye of your potential buyers.
Make the Most of SEO
Use 360° images as SEO techniques
In addition to social media, search engines will reward you for including 360° photos in your content. Later in this article, we’ll look at how Google responds to 360° photos and Google’s features for 360° photos.
According to Aardvark360: “Virtual tours increase page views by 40% and keeps visitors on-site for three times longer.”
360° technology provides something “extra” to the audience, and therefore your audience are more likely to choose your products if they watch 360° photos or videos of them. Search engines are likely to look positively on the fact that you have made them available for users improving your SEO.
Why Are 360° Pictures Important to Your Business?
Over the last twenty years, photos have become much easier for businesses to use thanks to how digital cameras and smartphone technology have evolved along with the wide variety of apps available to edit and enhance images.
This increased the focus from society on how commercial images are edited, modified, and faked. This has had a huge influence on how audiences interact with businesses depending on the content they choose to promote their brand. Industries affected in particular are the fashion and make-up industries, that have been criticised for taking editing too far.
A 360° image, however, has more credibility as it gives audiences an unedited and behind-the-scenes look into a business.
When your business provides a 360° photo experience, you’re being honest about your product or your location. Consumers appreciate transparency and will credit your company for having the courage to take them behind the scenes. Creating a bank of 360° stock photos will ensure your business always has new 360° photos and videos to share with their audience and keep them interested.
Engage Your Audience
Interesting visual content is the best way to capture the attention of your viewers. Therefore, people are always curious to watch 360° photos because they provide an extra dimension of detail they can enjoy. In addition, combining 360° photos with your content can win great results.
After all, if you can introduce useful, yet entertaining, visual content, you’ll create a viewer who wants to see more from your business.
Google and 360° Photos
Winning exposure from Google is one of the main reasons why 360° photos are important to your business. In fact, Google has designed special features and applications for 360° photos. All these applications can improve your SEO and increase your web traffic.
What is Google Street View?
To use TechTarget’s definition “Google Street View is a feature of Google Maps that enables users to view and navigate through 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic street level images of various cities around the world.”
“The Street View feature can be used to take virtual walks, explore landmarks or find shops, restaurants and hotels.”
360° panoramas uploaded on the application come from two sources: the first source is from users uploading 360° photos, whether businesses or individuals. The second source relates to pictures taken by Google’s “embedded” cars moving in cities which capture everything they see in 360° pictures. The latter is only available in some specific countries.
By submitting a 360° shot of your business on Google My Business, you are making it way easier for searchers to find you. After all, 55% of UK’s adults regularly use Google Street View. In the United States, the 360° virtual tour is already considered an essential part of the business, akin to having a website, and the UK is catching up fast. This shows how 360° photos are becoming an essential part of introducing your company to the world.
All the photos you submit through Google My Business will be merged with Street View and Google Maps. For search engines like Yahoo, 360° photos are all great content for your business however Google offers many more options on how to optimise from your 360° content.
What Is Google Business View?
Google Business View is an indoor version of Google Street View. It deals with indoor mapping, the same way Google maps deals with streets. As long as there are no privacy issues, anyone can share images of the insides of a building.
Larger buildings usually use Google Business View in order to find their way.
This less popular Google tool is a great way to market your business. Whenever people find you on Google SERPs, they can click “see inside” and find a virtual 360° tour of how your business looks like. If your business’s physical space is cosy, inviting and colourful you’ll be showing off a welcoming interior to the world.
How Can You Upload 360° Panoramas to Google Street View?
As previously mentioned, photos on Google Maps and Google Street View come from two sources: these are from Google itself or from other contributors. Google has its own wandering cars which have cameras that can record whatever they see. In order to make sure no privacy policies are violated during the process, faces of people or inappropriate surroundings are always blurred. The second source refers to anyone who wants to add 360° photos or virtual tours on Google. However, to help maintain quality Google created the Trusted Photographer scheme.
How to Upload 360° Photos to Google Maps
To add 360° photos to Google Maps, there are a number of steps to follow to successfully upload your 360° photos.
- Open Google Street View.
- Select Create option.
- Choose Import 360° photos.
- Import your photos – these can be any Google Drive 360° photos.
- Choose your desired 360° photo and once uploaded, select open to view.
How to Upload 360° Photos to Google Maps
Although there are some ways you can learn how to save 360° photos from Google Maps, this is prohibited within the Google guidelines. The same guidelines apply to those wanting to know how to download 360° photos from Google Street View. Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend it.
What Is a Google Trusted Photographer?
Every wondered why Street View photos tend to look so good?
This is because most taken by professional photographers accredited by Google. Photographers apply to be a part of Google’s trusted photographers and Google grants them access to upload 360° Street View photos and business virtual tours.
Business owners, individuals, or organisations who wish to have their photos featured on Google Maps and Street View should hire a Google Trusted Photographer to help them. In addition, Google has a list of its accredited photographers where you can easily find photographers in your area.
SEO and 360° Photos
The significance of Google has become too huge to ignore if you own or run a business: ranking as high as possible means being seen by as many people as possible!
This, of course, has made competition intense. Using all the tools at your disposal can help show Google that you offer a varied, useful and updated end produce for searchers.
If your competitors haven’t been using 360° and virtual tours there’s an ‘open goal’ for your company.
Increase Local Exposure
Most businesses, startups in particular, make a simple mistake when they overlook location while setting up an SEO strategy based on their target audience. Your target audience do not only search for products by their brand name, they search for products or services using location too. For example, if someone is looking for a gym, he/she will most likely search with location in order not to waste a lot of time.
The closer you are to your target audience’s location, the better. Just think: if you are the only local business in your niche providing immersive 360 photos or a virtual tour, then you’ll be grabbing the attention of local shoppers more likely to buy from your business.
TourDash is an exciting software application endorsed by Google.
The application offers multiple features and additions to enhance virtual tours and 360° photos and make them more effiective. TourDash allows business owners to embed their 360° panoramas on their website AND add extra layer to your 360° photos.
This allows you to add navigation drop-down menus which – for example – take your viewer to the location you are viewing in the tour. TourDash also gives you a chance to enhance the experience by adding ‘hotspots’ to direct your audience towards the most interesting spots inside your location.
In addition, you can add clickable links to 360° photos. This means that, while viewers are taking a tour, they can also click on objects and be taken to another page where they purchase your product, or reserve your service. Imagine you own a restaurant, and while you familiarise your audience with your physical space, they can actually click on a specific table in order to reserve it!
How Can You Get TourDash?
Of course, you need to first create a virtual tour or 360° photos via Google Trusted Photographer. If you have already completed this step, Google also offers a list of trusted TourDash resellers.
TourDash is provided as a subscription-based service. There are three different packages that you can choose from when it comes to pricing: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each one offers its own specific options allowing you to choose whichever is best.
Where Can You Share 360° Photos?
There are a large number of platforms where you can share 360° images, react with other people’s photos, and exchange experience and tips with friends. Of course, the most popular communities can be found on social media channels.
Other than social media, there are other applications, blogs, and websites, specially designed for creating a community of 360° photographers and enthusiasts. For instance, 360Cities and Kuula are two well-known websites where you can find the best and most creative virtual or 360° content. The two websites engage people from all over the world and build a multicultural space for sharing creative 360° photos.
Another interesting application where you can create and share 360° panoramas as well as interact with others is Roundme. All these online sites can give you ideas, tips, inspiration and teach you how to create immersive 360° photos.
How to Share 360° Photos and Videos on Different Social Media Platforms?
The following steps are taken from Facebook’s easy guide to getting started with 360° photos. It includes the exact steps to upload 360° images on your business page. Keep in mind that Facebook’s mobile application allows you to take 360° panoramas right away. However, if you prefer to use another application for that mission, make sure that Facebook supports that app in order to be able to upload it whether you are using iOS or Android.
- Click ‘Photo/Video’ at the top of your page’s timeline
- Click ‘Upload Photos/Videos’
- Select a photo
- Share it
- Look around in your photo by clicking and dragging
- Tap on the ‘Publish’ button at the top of your page’s timeline
- Select ‘Photo/Video’
- Select a photo
- Share it
- Look around in your photo by moving your phone or by dragging your finger
- Tap on the photo to view it in full screen
How to Share 360° Photos on Whatsapp
To share 360° photos on Whatsapp is a great way to share your content with family, friends and a direct way to share 360° photos and videos with clients. The tip in sharing 360° photos on Whatsapp is to share your image as a document rather than an image file to maintain the quality.
If your contact has a 360° player/photo viewer app installed on their device, this will allow them to view the photo with the intended point of view.
How to View 360° Photos on Facebook
If you are uploading 360° photos to your personal or business page, you may not be sure on how to view 360° photos on Facebook. Really, the answer is quite straightforward and simple. 360° photos for Facebook can be created with a panoramic image from your smartphone if you are wishing to share in the moment 360° content or with a 360° camera for a more professional shot.
When adding your 360° content, you upload the 360° photo like you would a regular image. When shared to your page timeline, friends, family and your business audience if posted to your company page can click into the 360° photo and move around the image.
You can also enhance your Facebook page by adding your 360° photo as your cover image which will make your cover more exciting and allow anyone visiting your page, personal or business, to submerge themselves in the image.
How to View 360° Photos on Windows 10 PC
To view 360° photos and videos on your Windows 10 PC, by opening the file you should have access to all the angles of the image and video. With the Windows Mixed Reality headset, Microsoft has added an additional way in how to view 360° photos on Windows 10 with a 360° extension to Microsoft Edge.
How to View Gear 360° Photos on a PC
The Samsung Gear360° is a very popular 360° camera due to the quality of its images and performance making it the most popular 360° camera available on the market.
To know how to view Gear360° photos on a PC, the first step is to install the Gear360° Action Director software onto your computer. Once your software is successful and your Gear360°camera is connected, you can now begin to import your 360° photos.
Once you have imported your Gear360° photos, you can save them to your desktop or edit them by stitching together your panoramic images.
The only issue that users find with the camera Gear360° camera is that the importing process is quite slow and can cause battery power to drain quite quickly. By using the Gear360°, you can create your own collection of 360° stock photos for yourself and your business.
This stock can supply your Samsung VR 360° photos. If you are looking for Samsung Gear360° sample photos, visit the official Samsung website.
How to Send 360° Photos on Messenger
Sharing your best 360° photos is a great way to give an insight into the location you are in especially while on the go using your smartphone but you may not want to share them publicly on the Facebook platform. This could be to share 360° photo content with a client about their premises or even just with a friend. An option to share your content privately through the platform is with Facebook Messenger. So the questions is, how to send 360° photos on Messenger?
Just like sharing 360° photos on Facebook pages and timelines, sharing your 360° photo through Messenger follows the same, straightforward guidelines.
You can take a panoramic image using your phone’s camera or from another device and send it through Messenger like a regular image. The app will then take your panoramic image and convert it into a 360° photo ready for you to share.
Can You Post 360° Photos on Instagram?
With Instagram as the most visual social platform, many will ask does Instagram support 360° photos and videos?
Unfortunately, just like LinkedIn, 360° photos and videos cannot be uploaded to Instagram. This is not only the case for Apple devices but for 360° photos on Instagram, Android devices cannot upload 360° photos or videos.
There are other options to add 360° photos to your Instagram feed by creating what are known as “Tiny Planet” images. This is a flat based image of your entire 360° photo to give it a globe like appearance which can be created using a 360° camera.
Instagram natively allowing 360° photos and videos to be uploaded is a feature that many users of the platform hope is integrated into future updates.
Does Twitter Support 360° Photos?
While Twitter does support 360° video content, it unfortunately does not support 360° photos natively. On Twitter, it does support 360° photos as interactive panoramic images using a third party app called Kuula.
Luckily, YouTube, the most popular video sharing website, supports 360° videos. Meanwhile, there are many 360° cameras which are compatible with YouTube.
YouTube supports some stitching applications mentioned earlier such as Kolor and Autopano. In addition, keep in mind that your video must include specific metadata in order to be identified as a 360° video by YouTube. You will find below YouTube’s instructions to make sure you are adding metadata the right way.
- Download the 360° Video Metadata app for Mac or Windows
- Un-zip the file, then open the 360° Video Metadata app. If you’re on a Mac, you may need to right-click the app and then click ‘Open’
- Select the video file
- Select the checkbox for Spherical and click ‘Save as’. Do not select the ‘3D Top-bottom’ checkbox. For more information, refer to upload instructions for virtual reality videos
- Enter a name for the file that will be created.
- Save the file. A new file will be created automatically in the same location as the original file
- Upload the new file to YouTube
- Wait for the 360° effect to process. This may take up to an hour
The Top 10 Business Views
This part of our article can give you an insight about how other businesses are using 360° efficiently.
Chataigner Yves is a Parisian cheese shop! People can see that your shop welcoming and organised. This example shows how potential customers can be given a great impression before they visit.
As the name implies, Toy Joy is a toy store in Texas. Since it targets a young audience, making the best use of every possible visual technology is a great decision.
Sarastro is a restaurant in London with another great reminder of why owners of similar businesses such as restaurants, cafes, gyms, and showrooms should give customers glimpse of what they should expect. This is exactly what we can see in this perfect 360° shot; all the details.
Emirates Airbus A380/Boeing 777
Who would have thought that anyone in the world would be able to take a tour around a private Emirates aircraft? On the Emirates website, it provides users with an immersive 360° experience of the different departments of these aircrafts. Providing customers an insight into what they should expect when using your services can potentially encourage them to go with your business over competitors.
360° Photography in a Nutshell
We’ve explored why 360° content can be so effective for your business and the tools you can use to create 360° photos and videos.
Do you need help creating and implementing 360° photos and videos into your marketing strategy?
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