Can a Professional Photographer Use 360 Photography Commercially?

360 Photography and Virtual Reality are some of the areas where photography seems to be evolving, becoming cool, fun, and fulfilling the human need to constantly be entertained. Like a dog that sees a squirrel run across a field, there are some of us in the industry that simply just go for it because it’s the cool thing to do. But in all honesty, it doesn’t have a lot of major uses for the professional photographer. Instead, it’s just a way for people on social media and other platforms to be engaged. To that end, it could become the ultimate Behind the Scenes Tool for a photographer’s life.

For Landscapes and Real Estate

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Canon EF mount review images street and landscape (1 of 29)ISO 6400

When you’re talking about a commercial aspect, let’s be flat out honest here and say that 360 landscape photography is completely moot for anything else but looking around in an area. A professional photographer may be able to do it when documenting the state of an area–but that’s something that also plays into Architectural and Real Estate photography. If a company or people need to check out a property before they purchase it and want a virtual tour of some sort, then 360 photography makes a lot of sense when it comes to tantalizing a prospective buyer. But that’s as far as it goes.

The Ultimate Photo Booth?

The idea of 360 photography for weddings, events and parties is one where you’ll need more set design in a way. The option to set it up and use it in the same way that millennials use photo booths is one idea. Appealing to the need to constantly be entertained, a 360 photo booth will allow folks to do all the silliness in the world that they’d like only to deliver them a few files where they can swipe through the entire image just for kicks. Considering how well Photo Booths do at weddings and parties, it kind of makes sense. But that’s a machine that more or less just stays there and doesn’t do much else otherwise.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomography LCA 120 color photos (19 of 24)

To effectively do 360 wedding photography involving candid moments on the dance floor or reception area, you’ll need lots of amazing light all over the place–and more often than not that’s just not very possible unless it does some sort of HDR functionality. Even then, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense. If you think about 360 photography as an idea otherwise, then it would mean a whole lot of set design or careful light placement.

For those of you who don’t know how off-camera lighting works, know that it’s a royal pain. Basically, the larger the light source, the softer the light. Placing said light sources in the right spots is the logistical issue.

In Art

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400

But then what about for other things? 360 photography obviously won’t be able to give you resales of any sort. The idea of purchasing a 360 print to hang on your wall and impress your friends and family doesn’t exist. To that end, it satisfies a very temporary need and want. When that’s over, someone moves onto the next thing.

Don’t believe me? Have you checked out National Geographic on Facebook and all the 360 photos/video they post? You’ll sit there, check it out for a bit and then move on. It hasn’t come to Instagram, Vine or anywhere else major yet except YouTube. As it is though, it makes sense to only satisfy someone for a little while.

It, and the overall appeal of it, doesn’t last in the same way that a proper photo of a decisive moment will affect someone. As a further example: 360 images of all the protests going on around America right now could be cool to look at, but they’re not as effective as us focusing in and concentrating on something very specific in the scene.

It’s all about framing–and that’s been the key to visual story telling for years. In truth, it also probably won’t change.