I started photographing my very first Google virtual tour, seven years ago, in January of 2013 at Totalvision Eyecare Center in Manchester, CT https://www.totalvisioneyecare.com/. The temperature outside was one degree and I was required to prop the door open as I took the first three images. I could barely feel my fingers as I clicked away, not really knowing what I was doing. I produced a new virtual tour of the renovated Totalvision in April 2019, which got me thinking about how I got started with Google.
In 2012, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a Google employee, who was recruiting photographers for their new “Google Business Photos” program. I’m smart enough to understand when opportunity is knocking. Google is an amazing brand and I wanted to be associated with Google.
I agreed to purchase the required photographic equipment and take the training to become certified. It was quite an experience. The entire system reminded me of a passage from Pulitzer Prize winning author Herman Wouk in The Caine Mutiny. The original Google Business Photos program was truly “a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. All the shortcuts and economies and common-sense changes that your native intelligence suggests to you are mistakes. Learn to quash them. Constantly ask yourself, "How would I do this if I were a fool?" Throttle down your mind to a crawl. Then you will never go wrong.” Google has improved the program dramatically since 2013, including allowing photographers to stitch their own panoramas and edit their own images in Photoshop.
After studying the course materials, I was required to pass a test and produce ten Google virtual tours. The most difficult part was each virtual tour had to undergo a quality control critique by Google technicians in India. Many times I was required to go back and take more panoramas of the same location and spend hours on the publishing software. The Google pipeline that stitched and published the panoramas was very buggy and often was completely shut down. Eventually I passed and became a TIP (Trusted Independent Photographer) and I was able to publish Google Virtual Tours without the quality control critique. What a relief.
The original program had rules against soliciting business outside your geographic area and a monthly quota for published virtual tours of businesses. There was constant pressure to produce tours or get kicked out of the program. Also, improving image quality by using Adobe Photoshop was forbidden.
The next year there was a re-branding from Google Business Photos to Google Business View and all website logos and printed brochures had to be brought into compliance. Then the “see inside” button on Google business pages was eliminated. A few years after that, the Google desktop stitching and publishing software was phased out and all the strict rules were eliminated. Anyone could now take a panorama photograph with their cell phone and publish it to a Google business page. Every Google Trusted Photographer had to purchase their own stitching software and either use a third-party publishing software or publish their panoramas on the Google Street View cellphone app. Any technical support to Trusted Photographers from Google was eliminated. Wow what a ride! The elimination of all rules was freeing and challenging at the same time.
Producing the new tour of the renovated Toatalvision of Manchester was a pleasure this time. The weather was warm, and I have gotten very good at the new software. I can use Photoshop to improve the image quality, and I now know what I’m doing. You can take the new virtual tour here: https://goo.gl/maps/1RaDapQWZwgLXAn48 By the way, I highly recommend Dr. Alpert, who is an amazing and caring eye doctor. Dr. Alpert has the latest technology to fit you with glasses or contacts and to evaluate and treat eye problems. Don't put off your eye exam!
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
From time to time I am fortunate to receive an unusual photo assignment that challenges my ability as a photographer. As a senior in college I was fascinated by the work of fashion photographers Richard Avedon https://www.avedonfoundation.org/history and Neal Barr https://nealbarr.com/. I tried without success to copy their work using black and white film for my college advertising photography course. Once I started my own photography business, I did photography for a modeling school, and an occasional model portfolio assignment; but I soon realized that there is no market in the Hartford area for fashion photography. That is when I discovered that I am a really a corporate/industrial photographer. Business portraits and photography of machines and metal parts are my main areas of expertise. I consider fashion photography way out of my comfort zone.
In October I received a message from Lori, who I have known for many years, from the time our sons used to hang out together. She explained that her daughter Anjelica had been a runway model in New York City during fashion week and was encouraged to get some photos so that she could get more modeling jobs. Anjelica is currently pursuing an advanced degree in clinical mental health counseling at University of St. Joseph's in West Hartford. She enjoyed working in New York so much, that modeling could become a nice side hustle while in grad school.
Lori agreed to be my photo assistant and stylist for Angelica's photo session. Since it was mid-October, the sun is lower in the sky and creates a beautiful light; and the fall foliage makes such a nice background, we decided on several outdoor locations. I am not a big fan of photographing without complete control of the lighting, so every image has a blend of flash and natural light. The sunlight that day was spectacular in Center Park and Wickham Park in Manchester, CT.
Anjelica modeled three different outfits. After taking a few dozen frames; my photographic anxiety was gone, I got in the zone, and took hundreds of photos. I don't plan on doing any more fashion photography in the near future, but I thoroughly enjoyed this photo assignment. It was another perfect day!
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040