Sunday, 25 April 2021

Personal Project : Hyde Park Barracks Art Installation

 I love a good art installation! A few mornings ago I logged into Facebook and as I scrolled down I came across a post by my friend, artist Marlene Sarroff, one of the people who do help keep me up-to-date on art. Right there in my 'feed' were 25 shots Marlene had taken of Australian artist Fiona Hall's 2021 installation 'Who goes where?' 300 signposts depicting people transported to Sydney, which ship and from where and why. Every post represented someone who had passed through the Hyde Park Barracks between 1819 and 1887. I had made one 360° shot of the front of the barracks in 2018 while I was still figuring out just how the circular panorama worked. It was OK for helping my being Street View verified by Google - but I wanted to get back and photograph this important historic building with my now greatly improved skills. I am also a fan of Fiona Hall's art so, seeing Marlene's shots galvanised me into action and I set out that very day.

Panoramas of Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, Australia
Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, Australia

I started out front and in the five or so minutes it took me to set up the the light travelled across a third of the front of the building! It's already moving that fast. I will most likely return for a full light on the front shot though I don't mind the mystery of this shot. Next was the north side in full light, in amongst the signposts themselves. This makes for a highly interactive experience of being in amongst the art installation, something I think 360 does best.
Who goes here? Art Installation by Fiona Hall at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Who goes here? Art Installation by Fiona Hall
Followed by a shot from out front on Queens Square, looking through the gates, across to Hyde Park, back to St Andrews then north to the Morton Bay Fig trees obscuring The Mint.
Hi-Fidelity 360° Panorama of Queens Square, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Hi-Fidelity 360° Panorama of Queens Square, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney

Can you believe it's now only 2:28 PM on the 23rd of April! Twenty minuets from the first shot and I sat on a bench briefly thinking about what would make a good sequence from the relationship between the art and the historic site.
Who goes here? South View, Art Installation by Fiona Hall at Hyde Park Barracks
Who goes here? South View, Art Installation by Fiona Hall at Hyde Park Barracks

One last shot from the south side, there's some construction work on access to the Registrar-General's Building - so I have shielded the worst of that with the trunk of the tree. I'm happy with the outcome and the  quality of the 360's do click the image below to see them in all their Hi-Fidelity 360° glory, double click (fast) to go fullscreen.

Visit High-Fidelity 360° to learn more about how your business can benefit from 360° panorama photography.

 Telling Stories in Pictures the World Over..

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Innovation - Why Technology Does Not Equal Design?

Technology marches forever onward at what can seem like an ever maddening pace. For decades now becoming more central to our lives in nearly every thing we do; with Siri, Alexa and "Hey Google" personal assistants bringing that relationship ever closer.

Computers, and Information Technology (I.T.) and User Experience (UX) are part of the design world too. It's no surprise that designers produce work on computers. Photography too, is now largely computer based, especially once you have made your picture. Though I do most of my own I.T. I am not a professional, though I enjoy some of the technical aspects and 'know my way around', the nuts and bolts of it all. One of the things I loved about traditional photography was the mechanical side and marrying that to the creative ideas I had. Cost wise, getting the technical side right and the creative side right too; was paramount. Failure at the technical or creative side, could easily see you out of the game. Which made making the right choices very important.

The computer makes everything seem possible. I mean, I won't have to look for a publisher to get this article out. I'm typing straight into Blogger. When I'm ready I just need to hit the button that says 'Publish', and I'm done! Though the story might be better if it had an editor look it over first.. Everything has crossed over. Computers have made it possible for me to write, with less catastrophic spelling than you would see if you read my hand written notes..

There's opportunities for pretty much everyone to have a go at pretty much anything they choose to have a go at - digitally, these days. And that's a good thing and something I am very grateful for.

Though I am not sure I would be able to build another web site completely from scratch. Mobile first, tablet then desktop, responsive design. Actually I think most 'responsive' design websites look pretty much the same. Why? The phone's screen does not have a lot of real estate to spare. Navigation? Look for three bars... But I digress; or do I.. Some technology innovations can make you look bad. In the case of my website, with a phone you may need to pinch on the screen, and that works fine, but apparently it's not fully mobile compliant - so Google reminds me of this every once in a while via email, and the threat of search downgrading if I don't make a change. But I still like my design. And as I said to a friend recently, "well it may not be mobile friendly, but it's not mobile hostile either!" So that's one way technology can make you look bad.

Another way technology can make you look bad is when the presentation of the technology is overpowered by the technology itself. As a photographer in the fashion trade, I used to refer to this as the dress wearing the model, as opposed to the other way around. It does not work, no matter how beautiful the garment is, or the model, it just doesn't look good, like kids dressed in their parents clothes, cute maybe, but not to be taken seriously. This is something 360° photography is having to deal with right now. Part of the issue is that 360° photography is technology driven at virtually every stage. It's the first of a new kind of 'captured' photography that cannot be experienced on paper; well not as an interactive photosphere. It is very different.

Movies. Films were new once too; and potentially difficult to understand. I remember as a young art student studying filmmaking, being told of film's evolution. At first, if characters went from place A to place B - the journey must be shown too, on foot or by car, train.. so as not to confuse the audience, as to how they got there, in the next scene. Now we don't bother. Well. Have you ever taken a Virtual Tour made to Google Street View's a-picture-every-three-feet specification? It's ridiculous! Like wierd software trying to make a movie with no script. No director, and no ideas. The sequence of images attempting to be a narrative of a place; ends up a complete mess that says nothing at all.

If the photographer does not have a vision for the picture they are making, the picture will not present itself as an effective vision of the subject or the place. To anyone. This idea is so basic, it's hardly discussed within creative circles at all, where understanding and investigation of your subject is taken as a given. But when you have imaging based in technology and not design, the aesthetics and the psychology of why an image works are easily - no pun intended - completely left out of the picture.

So these are the issues confronting those who want to innovate by using 360° photography. Without a doubt the benefits of being able to show more, more effectively are inherent in the new medium. Making the the right choice? Well these are still marketing pictures. And your clients are as time poor and discerning as ever. Engaged they click in, otherwise, they will click away. So you need captivating pictures, seamlessly implemented that show what you have, directly, succinctly, creatively. No one has time to click through 5, 10, pictures of your foyer and a sea of indecipherable ugly arrows or symbols everywhere; just to find the front desk. It's a waste of everyone's time and a production expense you don't need.

And when you have good design, you don't want a bull in a china shop approach to displaying that good design. What you want is a quality presentation that highlights your good taste, as seamlessly and as effectively as possible. Not just what you know, it's what you show. Quality, efficiency, and good design.

Some things never change.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Visiting Cockatoo Island - A High-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour

It had been years since I last visited Cockatoo Island and that first visit coincided then as it does now; with the former shipbuilding site in Sydney Harbour hosting large scale art installations for the Sydney Biennial. My first trip was not particularly memorable. At least, the memories are of a very hot day, blasting sun, a vast 'apron' of concrete to be traversed, and a crush of people too. The art at the time; did not leave an impression, though the massive old ship building machinery did; a giant lathe, industrial steam hammers or whatever they were; they looked impressive, but were not so accessible. That was my first visit and I really had no idea where I should go and what I should see. If only there had been a virtual tour to guide me around the island before I went - so I knew what to look out for - something like a really useful map, a virtual map with pictures.. So I've made one myself.

Workshops on upper Cockatoo Island, one of a virtual tour series of High-Fidelity 360° panoramas.

Fast forward to 2020; a year no one will ever forget, the year where doing nothing is helping flatten the curve. Fortunately in Sydney; we seemed to have 'done nothing' well and have stayed ahead of the worst issues, thank you to all the people getting it right! This means I was able to mask up; and take the ferry from Wharf F at Barangaroo out to Cockatoo Island. I was inspired by a friend who had journeyed there just days before; and pictures I had repeatedly seen, everywhere, of the huge art installation in the machinery hall. It was a mild and sunny winters day as I set out across the harbour with no particular expectations; other than to grab a few Hi-Fidelity 360° shots; and maybe add a harbour swimming pool; to my personal project of Sydney Ocean Pools and Harbour Baths. I had read that one of the slipways had at one time been used as a 'swimming pool' and was keen to see that too, for myself.

The largest cran on Cockatoo island photographed in Ultra high Resolution by Kent Johnson.
While the island was host to an MCA Biennial art exhibition. I had resolved to take in the history of the island first; and save looking at the art for another day. Alighting the ferry I made my way past the art deco-ish administration building (a shot I will make another day) and made may way straight across the long concrete runway like sweep of the 'Eastern Apron'. This is the main approach to Cockatoo Island though hardly its most flattering aspect. The 'apron' consists of lage concrete slabs abutting a tall cliff along the western edge, with the harbour admittedly looking very nice on the eastern side. As you walk across this flat white plain you may notice a tunnel dug through the cliff face; there are others too, though they are are generally closed to the public. The view directly in front is a jumble of cheap corrugated iron buildings, factory functionality on an industrial scale.

This is how I remember it from my first time, a vast barren expanse though without so many seagulls putting their chip stealing eyes on me as I make toward the machinery hall. True there is a colonial sandstone building that has been patch-worked into the structures ahead; and behind it the pointy pinnacle of a cranes' skyward pointing boom. But it does not look an enticing destination. Well it was a navel shipyard so one would expect that function, not decoration was the design rational for such a place. An assumption I discovered as I made my way around the island this time; to be completely wrong, at least if you find your way to the right parts.

A High-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour of Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour

Having made the decision to photograph the industrial heritage of the island and not focus on the contemporary art curation of the spaces. Instead of slipping through the doors of the massive machinery building to view the artworks, I took the roadway between the workshops toward the large crane. Now I was seeing wide open old industrial spaces for the first time as I worked my way clockwise around the island. My first 360° panorama photograph was midway along the Eastern Apron,  the picture features a banner artwork high up on the cliff walk. Next location I was being dive bombed by a squadron of seagulls defending their nests close to the tall crane pictured above. I had to back up 10 meters to avoid the persistent swooping, to be able to get my shot; and I was very glad to have a tripod to wave around above my head until things settled down. It seems the whole island is rookery during August and wherever there is a niche there is a nest; in the less travelled parts the seagulls are much more aggressive. Beware!

Segulls squarking on Cockatoo Island

Having survived a sustained Hitchcock-like attack of 'The Birds' dive bombing and circling while I  made my pictures, I continued around the perimeter, happy for the company of other visitors along the path; there's safety in numbers after all; even if just a few.

Next was the Fitzroy Graving Dock begun by convicts over six years and completed in 1857; used for "laying down ships and repairs". There are three smaller cranes here and a late 20C brick and concrete building, I was fascinated by what I took at a distance to be a submarine's conning tower up the far end of the dock only to realise as I drew closer that it was the 'gate' to the dry dock, safely secured well back from the harbour entrance.

Shipyard buildings of the fitzroy graving dock - linked to 360 panorama photograph

There are two dry docks on this the southern apron of the island, two watery fingers slicing into the land at an acute angle looking as if  they wish to join up into a single canal of their own.. if such a thing were possible. Here on the southern apron there are also modern marinas and an older jetty that would make a much more interesting arrival point. Looking around I can't believe I have not been here and seen these cranes and docks before; it is such a simple thing to get here. I'm fascinated by the machinery, the history and textures of the place. And I'm not yet half way around!

Continuing along on the pathway under the south cliff face I make my way to the pointy end of the island. A power station and a roofless concrete enclosure with a tiny low doorway, no door, and decide to squeeze through for a look. I found myself in an irregular shaped room with walls about 8 feet high, walls of concrete (the dome of Parthenon in Rome circa AD 26 is made of concrete..). Now with only the view of the off white walls and sky above, just hints of what lay beyond, some ship masts, the fa├žade of the 1918 brick power house with its arched windows and matching round chimney. I felt I was in a curiously magical space - or at least a location where I could create some pictorial magic at the very least. I make a mental note and several 360° panoramas! It seems I was inside the old rope and sling store, and at one time the coal store; and at another, quite possibly the islands sewage plant. Phew! Though obviously not all uses were at the same time. I liked this completely unexpected odd shaped box.

Rope store on cockatoo island photographed as a 360 panorama

So I had reached the end of the island (it's the biggest in the Harbour - but it's not that big) and right smack bang, adjacent to the power station are Slipways 1 & 2. These are two parallel channels with ramps at each end. More of a pull the boat out of the water, than the close it off and drain it, big bathtub concept of the other two dry docks. I was pleased to see a net, a shark net maybe? Across the the wet end of slipway 1; and a sign saying 'no swimming', and some life buoys at intervals along the fence line. That confirming to my mind at least, that this was indeed, another of Sydney's harbour pools, if not exactly 'open' right now. As on the stepped sides of the Fitzroy Dock, Slipway 1 also had plenty of Seagull activity, though these ones happily content to leave me well alone.

Slipway 1 on Cockatoo Isalnd, fence and signs detail.

If you had been trying to take in all the art as well as the Industrial heritage, I think that by now you would be getting a little fatigued. So my recommendation is to look at the buildings - or look at art; because there is still a lot of island to see. You could simply walk back from here along the roadway past the camping site to the ferry - yes there is a 'camping hotel' here on the 'northern apron'. Or you can make your way up the switch back roadway to the 'Upper Island' the plateau. Now I had been up to the upper island once before, as far as a heavily peopled grassy patch of ground, and most likely art fatigued coupled with heat exhaustion went no further. And that as far as I remember was that. So essentially the whole of the Upper Island was left as an unexplored place and I was quite surprised to discover how much I had missed out on. It is up on the upper island; with it's mixture of extant convict buildings, mid 20th century multi-storied workshops and Colonial and Federation houses that another face of Cockatoo Island emerges. It's up on the plateau that the extreme harshness of the concrete aprons contrast against classic Australian architecture, gardens and lawns, and a tennis court with perhaps the cities best on-court view of Sydney Harbour. None of which I was really expecting to see in the richness I found; even after having perused Google maps and it's contributor-content pictures of the place. Cockatoo Island is a fine place to spend a day, there is a lot to discover and I will certainly be back.

You can see my complete 360° Cockatoo Island 'Industrial' Tour by clicking here.

Visit High-Fidelity 360° to learn more about how your business can benefit from 360° panorama photography.

 Telling Stories in Pictures the World Over..

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Keeping Business Visible During Coronavirus with Hi-Fidelity 360° Photography

Yes, the Coronavirus crisis won't last forever. But before it ends we will see months of working from home, self imposed Quarantine and Social Distancing. I often attend three four, up to six events in a week here in Sydney. Last weekend became my cut-off. To do our bit helping stop the spread of Coronavirus my partner and I have decided to curtail all non-essential social activity and to minimise being in groups and crowds. Getting out there; being part of the community, this is how we experience life in Sydney and we do the same when travelling, it's how we see the world. And we won't be doing any of that for.. well we don't quite know just yet, no-one does. We won't stop looking though, online, and we won't stop planning for future activities when the crisis is over.
A Portfolio of Hotels and Travel imagery in Hi-Fidelity 360  photography
A Portfolio of Hotels and Travel imagery in 14 Hi-Fidelity 360° photographs
This is where Hi-Fidelity 360° becomes an important part of your businesses future. People like being there, and want to see what things are like - but right now, well.. it's not so easy. So Hi-Fidelity 360° photography is the closest thing to actually being there, it can ensure your business remains visible during this crisis and beyond, by virtually bringing your customers and clients directly into your world; be it hotel accommodation; an art gallery and the latest art exhibition; a museum, a fashion boutique. Anywhere people go. You can bring people from the safety of their homes into your business using Hi-Fidelity 360° photography, they can view your premises at their own leisure spending as long as they like on any part of the 360° image. This is an aspect I enjoy over videos set narrative. Then call or email to make purchase or arrange an appointment to visit. There is only one caveat; the photography has to be seamless to create the illusion of being there and this requires technical and creative artistry, not just  photography, Hi-Fidelity 360° photography.
Uluru and Sails in the Desert Ayers Rock Resort
Uluru and Sails in the Desert Ayers Rock Resort - Click for 14 images Virtual Tour
It's still new and a little different, and now is the time to add this interactive 360° virtual tour photography to your marketing and social media outreach; and it's a lot less scary than being left behind or the virus. I can create effective Hi-Fidelity 360° photography virtual tours of your store, your room, your house, your fashion, all can be shown interactively, just like being there. Click the links and enjoy the experience yourself, then call me to discuss your needs.

I am taking local bookings in Sydney, Australia, now.

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White Caviar Life - Galleria Milan in Hi-Fidelity 360° Photography
White Caviar Life - Galleria Milan in Hi-Fidelity 360° Photography
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia - The World.
0433 796 863

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

360° Virtual Tour Photography Is The Next Big Thing - Don't Miss Out

360° Virtual Tour Photography Is The Next Big Thing - and it's here already.

"Do I need 360° Virtual Tour Photography?" Do you remember the time when small business were asking themselves "Do I need a website?" or even way back, "Do I need a fax machine?" In the mid 2000s when everyone was going online; and phone and fax were no longer enough. I built myself a site to sell Vintage Audio equipment in 2006, and it became #1 in Australia and #3 worldwide - for years. I thought it would be months before my first sale, it took a week! Goodbye to paying Ebay to sell my gear, and I sold my equipment at better prices. At my day job, I was managing a second hand building yard specialising in Architectural Heritage. It took a while but eventually I convinced the owner into letting me build a small website, six pages of  just our core product lines with some good photos. Business picked up - I still had a job! A few years down the track I built a complex database driven e-commerce site for the same business which really took off. They even started shipping overseas, much to the owners amazement.
Desert Gardens Hotel Room, Uluru N.T. - photographed for a Hi-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour by Kent Johnson Photography.
Desert Gardens Room - Uluru N.T.
Do you need a website? I don't think anyone in business seriously questions this anymore. The real question is, what sort of website what will it be, look like and what will it do? One of the things that made my websites successful, was the quality of the photography I delivered as part of the sales package. The photography made a difference and it is still a key component to success on the web. Technology never stops changing, and that goes for the way we use photography too.
Cronulla ocean pool - photographed for a Hi-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour by Kent Johnson Photography.
So the new question is no longer do you need photography on your website and marketing activities. It's do you need 360° Photography for your website? And the answer is yes, interactive 360° photography in the form of Virtual Tours. This is simply the next generation of photography that shows the world what you have got. The pictures need to be good quality, clean, clear, visually concise and compelling. You should be using them on your website, and your Facebook page as well. Once you have them you can use them on Google maps and on your business listing to help lift your profile and search ranking there. They even work well as sliders on Instagram details or those quirky tiny planet images - they are made from the same 360 images. The Real estate industry loves them, because 360° photography generates sales. This is why the Real Estate trade is one of the driving force's behind 360° Virtual Tour photography. The web has changed the way customers engage with businesses and I'm sure we all know people who will not visit a store, until they have looked at the website to decide if it's worth visiting. Good photography of what we sold and what we looked like on a good website; helped the business I was managing, bringing new clients to the store. If you do not have good photography, if your competitors website is out-performing yours, you can make great steps forward with Hi-Fidelity 360° photography. I can bring that new look you need with my Google, Street View Trusted 360° photographs of your business.
Michelin Star Restaurant Venice - photographed for a Hi-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour by Kent Johnson Photography.
Quality photography works for all businesses whether you are selling somewhere to sleep, food to eat, even a day out with the kids, products or services; 360° photography takes your business to the next level on the web.
Call Kent to book your Virtual Tour Photoshoot today -
0433 796 863

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia. 0433 796 863
360 Stock Images - 360Cities

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Telling Stories in Pictures all over..
Luxury Hotel Room photographed for a Hi-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour by Kent Johnson Photography.
Luxury Hotel Room in Venice Italy - photographed for a Hi-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour

Uluru Northern Territory, Mutitjulu Waterhole Walk - photographed for a Hi-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour by Kent Johnson Photography.
Mutitjulu Waterhole Walk - Uluru N.T.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Be Generous - Go Large - Bring The Destination 360°

What could it possibly mean, "Be Generous" "Go Large" "Bring The Destination.." It's about thinking differently as to how we present who we are, where we are, and what to see - where we are.. and it's that last one that speaks to the idea of generosity as well. Hands up who has integrated local shots of their beautiful destination, outside the grounds of the resort or hotel, on their website? One or two of you? None! Why, why-would-you share a place, that's not your place? Why-wouldn't-you? OK if you have organised activities, day trips, you are going to be sharing those as part of a partnership. But what about some shots of what your guests can expect to see - even if they have been planning the trip for years, to this destination,  you can share your view of where you are too. Why? Because you care, because it's easy to do, it sets the tone of your resort, your hotel, it shows your generosity of spirit, and your place in this place.. wherever that place may be.
Hi-Fidelity 360° panorama of Burano, Venice Italy at Dawn. Photographed by Kent Johnson.
Yes I want to know what my hotel room looks like, the foyer and the front, so I can recognise it when I arrive. But why do I have to wade through a jumble of A.I. organised crowd-sourced pictures of where-you-are on Google maps; to try to get the feeling of where I am going to be. Why doesn't the hotel do this for me (without trying to onsell)? You can take the customer there yourself, on your website! You can do it, it's easy, it's just a few more, maybe only three or four custom pictures, of where you are.. So instead of being inside only - you can also be looking out, like several spots on the map "you are here" "we are here too". Now that's generous; like reception is when you ask advice on the best place to eat, to shop. This can happen on your website. So what would that look like, on your website? I'm glad you ask because I have prepared a sample, how it could look and work, like this; as visual bullet points of the resort, the area, why you are booking to stay with us - we care! Now just take a look at our place.. we know you are going to love it here.
Hi-Fidelity 360° panorama of a luxury resort hotel room, Mazzorbo. Travel photography by Kent Johnson.
Here's the demonstration below. We begin on the Venetian Island of Mazzorbo, at Venissa Wine Resort, we see a room, we see a Michelin Star restaurant, we see the vineyard. We also see Burano, as Mazzorbo and Burano are connected by a bridge, and San Marco too as they are connected by the Lagoon.. and in this series they are connected seamlessly by visual hotspots and you really get the picture of where you are, where you will be. It's easy when you have this special kind of high quality Hi-Fidelity 360° image to bring the visual feast to life. Small confession, the tour below leaves Venice, yes Venice our key Hotel and destination and includes a hotel in Como and also Milan; because it's my 360 hotels travel portfolio. Oh, and "Go Large', that works in more than one sense, 360° done well delivers a great feeling of the whole space, and the pictures are large - forget 4K these pictures below are double that and more; work very well on very large screens, and small ones like phones or VR headsets. Be generous, go large, bring the destination, give me a call, Hi-Fidelity 360° it works, and your clients will love it too.
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Hi-Fidelity 360° is like video only faster loading, can be animated, and lets the client view the images at their own pace and construct their own narrative in their own time. Would you like this for your business, please just call or email me.

Telling Stories in Pictures all over..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

I Didn't Want To Become A 360° Photographer

This is the story of how I came to realise the potential of 360° photography - the pros and cons - from learning 'how it's done' to understanding how it can be done - much better.. Big call I know. I hope you are interested in joining me on this journey of discovery . If so please read on.

It started with travel. It was travelling and using Google maps. That was my start. Getting onto Google maps listings, checking reviews, seeing what's in the city, the town, the place I would be staying in. Looking at user uploaded photos and of course, also looking at the 360 panoramas, to decide if a park, an attraction, an historic site, was worth taking the time to visit, first I'd look it up. To see if a restaurant was good, and if the reviews seemed truthful and authentic enough to visit for a meal. What the restaurants presentation looked like.. I found Google Maps to be very helpful indeed.

Then sometime in 2017 I started to wonder if it might be worth uploading some of my photography to Google maps too? Would my pictures rise to the top, would anyone see them? Was placing pictures on Maps be a viable approach to marketing - by putting the pictures where the viewers were already looking - as opposed to trying to push them toward my own website? Well I decided to give it a go and I also became a 'Local Guide' too, it's all a part of the Google Maps program. I enjoyed the challenge of selecting one of my images of a well known (or not so well known) location; adding it to the Maps listing and seeing how it did, position, views, that sort of thing. That's the same Google Maps you have your Business Listing on by the way, it's all the same platform.

SPOILER ALERT - Since late 2017 and  just over 700 pictures on 'Maps' I have received over 4 million views, an online record for me.
Burano, Venice in Hi-Fidelity 360 panorama photography by Kent Johnson

One fateful day, I discovered there was a way, and only one way, that Google would provide a photographer with an Official Approved Photographer listing. It was, and still is the Street View Trusted Photographer (SVTP for short) a listing in the form of an outbound link - from them - yes an official Google link!!! This is not a Google search result, it is an official approved link - and I wanted it. Of course with over 20 years of professional photography experience, first I tried to wag the dog by the tail. I jumped into the Local Guides forums with my crazy great idea "Hey Google, we know not all photographers are equal, why can't I have a SVTP listing, my shots are worth it". And Google said "You need to upload 50 approved 360° Street View Photographs and then you can apply to be a SVTP". I made a bit more noise, then I just gave in, I didn't give up, I gave in.

I decided I would learn how to make full 360 Panoramas, complete Photospheres, 360° x 180°, 2:1 and Equirectangular photographs; those are all descriptions of the same thing by the way. Yes, I really wanted that listing and the link!

Though to be honest at this stage of the game, although I had found some 360° photographs interesting, and used street view to get a peek at a destination.. I thought the whole thing was really just some sort of gimmicky photography; because more often than not, the actual picture was just not that good, or was really over processed, like crazy look-at-me-Kimmie HDR! I wanted the link, and I did not plan on going past qualifying for that outbound link from Google. But like most things it was not that simple; as I slowly learnt the complex camera mechanical side & also the computational software aspects of making 360° photographs. And with these structural elements under control. I began to understand several things. That 360° photography was no gimmick, and made to the same exacting standards I already applied to all my professional photography; that it was a valid photographic form that could deliver images in a way classic photography struggled to do.

I started to see that these moving images could be a game changer in the rapidly evolving world of photography; which had already changed so much since I started out with film and prints made in the darkroom. The same creative challenges were here too; and had to be solved to create great and inspiring 360° photographs. I found the work of Master 360° photographers to study and help light my way. And I enjoyed engaging with those images from all over the world, spinning them around - taking the tours.. and viewing all there was to see! Photography is after all, no longer restricted to flat print publications, it can embrace all the functionality the internet and computers have to offer.

I came to understand there were other ways to present and view 360° photographs, that are completely independent of Google and the Maps platform. Approaches that are more flexible, customisable, personal ways to present 360 and engage an audience, online and off, with sophisticated design and superior user experience.
 Uluru Sails Resort in Hi-Fidelity 360 panorama photography by Kent Johnson

This was yet another multi layered learning experience, because a 360° photograph is not a static photograph, and as part of a tour interacts with other 360 images, incorporating sound and static images as pop ups, text, 360° photography; virtual tours, it's an evolving photographic platform within the web itself! And I am still learning about that, lets face it, the learning never stops.

So these further 'discoveries' were good news to me as I was already questioning whether the so-very-many picture data gathering approach method prefered by 'Maps'. Was really the right approach to tell the story of a place, or particularly positive in terms of user experience. What I wanted for myself and my clients was in line with the goals of classic commercial photography. That did not mean a lot pictures. That meant a hero shot that told a story, then another image, another distinctive view, a true story telling narrative created by they photographers vision. This is something I know well and that I knew from experience would deliver a greater impression and superior engagement from the viewer. Which is what we want, and that's a win for both the viewer and the client.

Three 360° portfolios - Sails Resort & Uluru - Sydney Ocean Pools - Hotels and Travel in Venice, all saying something a little differently, just as you would expect when they each have their own individual story to tell.

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Telling Stories in Pictures all over..

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863