360 photos are in great demand, yet there are many businesses and unsold houses that don’t have one yet. If you want to earn money with 360 photos, one way to get started is by becoming a Google Trusted Photographer. This post will show you how, including the cameras, tools, software, tips and techniques that will help you.
What is a Google Trusted Photographer? In addition to fulltime Google Street View photographers on Google’s payroll, there are independent photographers who take 360 photos of businesses for Street View — those are Google Trusted Photographers. Although Google won’t pay you for contributing 360 photos for Street View, becoming a Google Trusted Photographer allows you to be listed on their directory of trusted 360 photographers, and get the opportunity to get hired by businesses to take 360 photos of their establishment.
TABLE OF CONTENTS for the video
00:31 Benefits of becoming a Google Trusted Photographer
00:51 How to become a Google Trusted Photographer
01:35 Which camera to get
01:38 Low cost cameras under $100
02:50 Better cameras $199 to $399
05:48 Stands and tripods
08:38 How to add a photo to Street View
09:53 Tips and techniques
10:34 How to get more views on Street View
Samsung Gear 360* (~$80) – good detail and dynamic range; limited exposure controls, compatible only with Samsung S6 and above.
LG 360 Cam* (~$100) – low cost; noticeable chroma noise
Ricoh Theta SC* (~$200) – built in HDR mode, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; chromatic aberration
Ricoh Theta S* (~$250) – built in HDR mode, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; chromatic aberration
Ricoh Theta V* ($399) – Street View video mode, built in HDR mode, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; chromatic aberration
Ricoh Theta V* with free selfie stick
Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere ($250) – excellent resolution and dynamic range, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; some chromatic aberration
Xiaomi Mi Sphere discount codes
Insta360 ONE for iPhone ($299 at Gearbest or Amazon) – excellent resolution and dynamic range, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls
Insta360 ONE for Android: TBA
Yi 360 VR* – excellent stitching on desktop; poor stitching on mobile app
* these cameras can connect directly to the Google Street View app
As I mentioned in the video, it is important to use the right techniques for 360 photos to ensure that your photos will be approved.
1. Avoid placing anything important in the stitch line. This is a fundamental rule of 360 photography. Almost all spherical 360 cameras use two or more lenses. In order to create a 360 photo or video, images from those lenses must be combined (“stitched”). Anything placed in between a 360 camera’s lenses (the green area is within the stitch line, where there is the highest likelihood of distortion, especially for objects close to the camera. Therefore you should avoid putting anything important within the stitch line.
2. If possible, point the stitch line toward the key light (the primary light source). This is another very important and fundamental technique. If you aim the stitch line toward the key light (the primary light source), then the light will be more or less similar between the lenses, thus ensuring an even exposure throughout the 360 photo.
3. Ensure that the horizon is straight. This is another very important rule for 360 photos. The horizon must be level, or else looking around the 360 photo will be disorienting. To ensure a level horizon, make sure the camera is level when you shoot. If necessary, correct the horizon with Theta Converter or similar software.
4. Understand the exposure triangle. You should understand ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure. You should also understand the correct exposure for digital cameras.
5. Ensure that the lens is clean. Unlike telephoto lenses, ultrawide lenses such as those used in most 360 cameras are very susceptible to dust and fingerprints, and they will affect your image quality. You should ensure that your lenses are clean.
6. Use a self-timer or remote shutter. If you trigger the shutter with your finger, then your hands will be very prominent in the 360 photo. To avoid this, you should use a self-timer or remote shutter to give you time to move your hand and probably yourself away from the camera.
7. Use a stand. 360 cameras sometimes have mini tripods but they are rarely tall enough to be useful. Instead, use a stand to position the 360 camera at the right height. One way to determine the correct height is to place it between eye level and shoulder level of the viewpoint you want the viewers to have.
8. Align the camera with the stand to make the stand less visible. Align your stand along the stitch line of the camera to make the stand less visible, or in some cases invisible.
With these techniques, you should be able to take 360 photos that will get approved for Street View. If you are interested in meeting other like-minded 360 photographers, join the 3D and 360 Virtual Tour Network on Facebook. And if you found this article helpful, you can get posts from 360 Rumors sent automatically to your email by subscribing (for free).