Ask the VR Photography Experts

Q: I’m looking for photographers to subcontract and shoot VR panoramas of local hotel facilities in several major cities for a commercial web site. Photographers will need to charge $150 shooting fee plus $25 per room, since that’s what I advertise as my own rates for one-shot VR panoramas. The client is aware of the difference in quality, but can’t afford the "normal" $250-$400 per room for nicer high-res images. We can’t use fisheye or iPIX images on this project, but you’ll only need to send me your original source pics from your shoots. We will assemble the panoramas here.

A: You have got to be kidding... I don't think anyone would want to do it at either the low or the “normal” prices you describe!

No one in their right mind (or with any need to run a profitable business) would even consider doing a VR shoot in a major metro area for this kind of low rate.

Besides, who would want to intentionally produce low-quality work? It makes it almost impossible to ever get paid for doing higher quality work if the only thing you ever do and charge for is low quality stuff.

Professional VR photographers call shoots done in this price range "drive by shootings", because they are similar to what non-photographer realtors charge to take VR pictures of their real estate properties. It comes from their old practice of shooting properties without even getting out of their car. Sure, they produced a picture for the flyers and newspaper ads, but what was the point, since it didn't really show the property effectively or in a terribly flattering manner?

It is public pricing like this, combined with an acceptance that quality is unimportant, which undermines the VR industry, in my opinion. When you ask the average consumer what they know about virtual reality, they'll usually tell you "oh, it's those blurry movies in little windows on the web that you can look around a room with."

Personally, I can't imagine why anyone would want to further that low perception of VR by continuing to produce such low quality content, particularly when there is so much potential and so many possibilities otherwise.

I'm sorry to pick on you for this, but collectively, VR authors really need to do better. You'd be amazed at how effective it can be to just tell a client "no, I don't / won't do low quality work" or "no, I can't do the kind of work that you'll be happy with for that low a price."

- Scott Highton