Creative Aspects of 360° photography and Editing


A panoramic image which surrounds the point of shooting of the image is known as a 360° photo. It is basically a spherical panorama image. A 360° photo is controllable and can be moved left, right, up and down as desired and also can be zoomed. The viewer can drag the image in a desired direction. With specialized equipment, one can create a virtual tour of a scene – be it a bird’s eye view from the sky or an eruption of a volcano. The viewer experiences as if he were present at the center of the scene! The viewer can rotate the scene in all directions, zoom in and out, read texts, and even click links.

With the easily availability of 360° cameras and apps, 360° photos are widely used in various fields like wedding and event photography, interior photography, eCommerce, social media, nature and landscape photography etc. 360° photos help to present a scene or a product from various angles, to view it from inside etc. The viewer gets a clear and detailed picture of the scene or the product.

A 360° image consists of several images. These images are joined together with an image stitching software. Usually the images are captured for stitching with a DSLR with a fisheye or wide-angle lens and a panoramic head, or a 360-degree camera, or even a smartphone with a built-in app or a downloadable app like Google Street View.  Some post processing measures like vignetting, luminosity, color balance etc. are required before stitching the photos. When the photos are ready to be combined with each other, they are merged into a spherical image with a 360° panorama stitching software. The most widely used softwares are PTGui and Hugin. A very common and main challenge in stitched panorama is parallax errors which these softwares can solve. A virtual tour can be created combining several 360° images together. This step will require another type of software like Easypano, Pano2VR etc. For instance, to create a tour of an apartment for a real estate agent, first the 360° image of each room has to be prepared. Then using the software, one has to combine the 360° images together to create the tour. The viewer can move from one room to another and see the whole apartment
without visiting it in person. Moreover, adding additional interactive elements like sound, video etc. the tour can be taken a step forward to make the viewer believe that he is actually exploring the surrounding in real life.

Apart from the technicalities, in 360° photo editing, the main focus should be putting the viewer in the center of the action. The editor has to think of interactive elements that will encourage viewers to explore every single point of the image. The viewer should have the feeling of ‘being inside the scene himself’ instead of ‘being behind the scenes’. The editor is like a tour guide. While capturing the images for a 360° photo, he has to think what would grab the attention of the viewers from every single angle.

The creative aspect of a 360° photo is endless. The editor can create a story, or challenge the viewers to find a hidden object, or even go wild to place an image of a unicorn! The options are numerous. This is how it ultimately pays off to be creative and interesting.