360 photography of vehicles: From cameras to sales

A tool that increases the interest and sales of a car is undoubtedly a 360 photo. Learn how we produce the incredible prospects that fascinate buyers and other benefits of 360 vehicle photography.
  Do you know what is the photograph that manages to sell a car? Yes, of course, the title has made it clear that we will talk about 360 photography of vehicles, but let’s not rush, the question makes sense because 360 degrees mean dozens of points of view and only the ideal perspective has the power to close a sale. On this occasion we will show you what 360 vehicle photography is, what is the perspective that buyers and fans of four wheels fall in love with, how we produce it and what benefits it has to use this technology in businesses in the automotive industry, such as car dealerships. This article will be of interest to you if you work in the automotive industry, are a dealership manager, or are in charge of car marketing and advertising. If you are looking for ideas to take advantage of the potential of 360 technology in your digital channels and be able to make virtual sales regardless of your geographical location or that of your buyers making use of the technological trends that are growing globally, then you are in the right place.  

360 photography of cars

What is it and how to use it in marketing and sales?

With 360 technology gaining increasing popularity, it is possible that you have already seen a 360 photo before. However, let’s look at a very simple explanation so that later we talk about how it can help you sell cars with the ideal perspective. If at this moment you turn your head watching in all directions, no matter where you are, you will always have a 360-degree view of everything around you. That is the principle of a 360 photograph, a spherical digital image that shows all the angles of a space so you can contemplate it as you just did. 360 photography is a specialty within the photographic art that can be very versatile, as long as you have the necessary equipment and knowledge. Therefore, in Perspektiva 360 we can take photos of real estate properties such as buildings, houses and apartments, urban and natural landscapes and even 360 photographs of cars.  

The ideal perspective

360 photos of cars are digital products in which the four wheels are protagonists and with which we can show vehicles in a way that conventional photographs can not achieve, why? they do not get the ideal perspective! And what is that ideal perspective? Surely you will know like us that, when it comes to cars, the exterior is attractive, but the interior is what closes the sales.  
Interior view of a vehicle
A car interior is a very attractive view. (Photo: Mike, via Pexels.com)
  An ideal perspective is the one that places your potential buyer inside a vehicle and that is what 360 photography offers you, a realism that impresses his mind and generates an irrepressible desire to breathe the aroma of a new car, feel its textures and hold the steering wheel! Generating those sensations and marking the steps that take your buyer to action is possible through methods and channels that exploit the creativity and innovation in technologies that we offer in Perspektiva 360.  

An adaptable and responsive digital product

360 photographs of vehicles are designed to be viewed with software included in many devices at our fingertips. Most likely, the phone, tablet or computer you use to read this will allow you to see any 360 photos without problem, because we can embed or publish it in: What are car 360 photo apps all about? One of the great advantages of any digital product is the possibility of expanding its limits, making a seemingly simple photo or image become an experience. It is not unusual for many of our clients to ask us for numerous photographic and audiovisual shots, following scripts that we structure with them, to create what are known as virtual tours. And a virtual tour is already a 360 photography experience with possibilities as wide as you want! For example, an app with 360 photos of vehicles might include button and multimedia interfaces that allow you to present the most important details to your potential buyer. How to do it? Here are some ideas:
    • Buttons that display texts with winning features of the car.
    • A photo gallery that shows elements in detail, such as the engine, dashboard, sound system and everything you can think of.
    • Videos of commercials, evidence and/or testimonials.
    • Buttons with calls to action that allow your buyer to contact your business advisors or why not? request a test drive at home.
All these possibilities are limited solely by creativity and brands like Honda know it.  

The Honda 360 Experience

Some time ago the Honda 360 experience was launched in Colombia, an attractive way to visit a vehicle dealership on the web. It included 360 photographs that we produced to present the cars of this renowned brand. And while it was not the first time Honda employed 360 technology in its marketing strategies, this was a special occasion. What made it special?  
Photo of the Honda 360 experience
Brands like Honda apply 360 photography for their vehicles. (Photo: Perspektiva 360)
  The launch of Honda 360 Next took place in April 2020 and just by reading that you know what time we are talking about. The great quarantine was one of the great moments for digital technology in this century. Its use saved many companies from collapse, because they all explored as never before the potential of applications that they had ignored for years: such as using 360 photography for the sale of vehicles and real estate or applying it in the promotion of tourism, education and many other areas.  

Our production step by step

360 photography by cars is an art for us and that is why we follow the same process of any artistic project, which is usually divided into 3 stages: Pre-production, production and post-production.  

1. Pre-production

Pre-production is the initial stage and takes place when you as our client tell us what you need, we take note of everything, solve your concerns and advise you so that the 360 photos of your cars get what you are looking for sales, sales and more sales! This stage is usually short if the project is not complex. If you want 360 photographs for galleries and catalogs on your website, a briefing session will be more than enough. Otherwise, if you have a great virtual tour in mind and surely we will have to structure and script it. In any case, once we have discussed all the details and planned the work, we load our equipment and step on the accelerator until we reach your dealership, showroom or warehouse, to start production!  

2. Production

Production is a meticulous process, because each space photographed in 360 degrees requires special treatment. We must be very detailed, since, unlike conventional photographs, it is much more difficult to capture multiple planes on the same axis, especially if their measurements are narrow like those of a car. A narrow space can cause unwanted effects, such as parallax. One minute! Parall… What?! The parallax effect is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “the effect by which the position of an object seems to change when it is looked at from different positions“. To make you understand it better, put a finger in front of your eyes and close one of them as if you were making a wink. Look at your finger and close your other eye while opening the one you had closed without taking your eyes off your finger. Repeat it a few times. Do you notice how it seems to change places? That is essentially parallax.  
Parallax is an unwanted and probable effect when you do not have enough experience in 360 photography. (Photo: Lazar.zenit, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
  To avoid mistakes, 360 photos of vehicles are a task that we entrust only to the most skilled photographers in our team, who have learned a production process that we have perfected over the years:
    1. Stage and vehicle preparation
    2. Lighting tests.
    3. Photo composition.

Setting the stage

The protagonist is your vehicle, so our photographers make sure that everything is in good condition and looks perfect for the cameras. They get in your car, turn it on and check:
    • Impeccable windows.
    • Steering wheel, mirrors and seats aligned.
    • Seat belts in place.
    • Interior and dashboard lights on (Except if they indicate “low fuel” or something similar).
    • Built-in screens lit.
They take into account as many details as possible to get the 360 photographs to show the best profile of your vehicle. The next thing that our photographers do is to assemble equipment both outside and inside. Exterior and interior? It sounds like there will be a lot of elements around…
Full-frame cameras and lenses make it easy to shoot in tight spaces. (Photo: Perspektiva 360)
Well, our photographers are not amateurs! nor do they take 360 photos with any app on a smartphone. You will always see our professionals with high quality equipment, such as:
    • Cameras with 35 mm or full frame sensors.
    • Wide-angle lenses.
    • Panoramic ball heads.
    • Lighting scheme.
They are all equally necessary to achieve the 360 photograph that will captivate your buyers and sell your car, because they help control vital factors, such as light.    

Testing the lighting

Light is the most important element for every photographer and its control determines the clarity of all details in any photo, especially if it is 360 degrees. It may seem to us that a vehicle is well lit inside, but the truth is that no camera adapts to light as well as our eyes. That is why it is not advisable to take a professional photograph inside a car without a lighting scheme. Any variation of light can be difficult to handle. If you were to take a photo inside your vehicle on a sunny day with a professional camera, the outside light could take all the attention of the built-in sensor and leave image details too opaque. You would not show your potential buyer a photo where the dashboard of their new car is lost in the shadows, would you? The lighting schemes vary according to the conditions of the space and the type of car that is going to be photographed in 360, but be careful! a few lights will not help if they’re out of control. Any lighting, natural or artificial, needs to be balanced to avoid the effects of direct exposure. For example, light bounces off and generates reflections, such as when you take photos with flash pointing at a mirror or window. These effects are not professional (at least when they are not intentional). That is why our photographers will cover the windows of your car with lightweight diffusers, which will also facilitate the subsequent editing of the exterior panoramas.  

360 photo sessions for vehicles during the last years. Since 2020 we have implemented biosecurity measures. (Photos: Perspective 360)


Composing an excellent 360 photo

Once our photographers have finished all the preparations and the light has been balanced to perfection, they start the photo shoot. All photos are taken with triggers (i.e. remote control) so no one is inside your vehicle when this happens. Our photographers do it this way because this is how they avoid movements that can affect the sharpness of the details or obtain blurred images. At this time you will see equipment like the panoramic ball head in action.  360 photographs require great precision, so this equipment is used to rotate the camera on its axis so that the lens can capture different planes of everything that surrounds it inside the vehicle. Every time the taking of enough plans to build a 360 photo is finished, there is a quality control. This process is repeated as many times as necessary so that the editing can include the best perspectives of each shot when assembling the 360 photo of your car.  

3. Post-production

Finally, the post-production stage is the editing process in which we assemble and polish the 360 photo of your car using specialized software. Although this stage comprises several steps that are repeated over and over again during its development, it basically requires these tasks:
    1. Photo editing.
    2. Stitching.
    3. Optimization.
    4. Quality Control.

Editing the planes

Editing a professional photograph is the stage of greatest attention to detail. In this process, we select the photographed shots that we will use in the 360 photograph of your car, we correct image defects, improve the image and add any elements that we have agreed during pre-production. When it comes to vehicles, we use the most advanced techniques that we master, because their interiors have a great variety of textures: Chrome, plastic derivatives, metals and, sometimes, leathers, which require us good eye and ability to maintain their realism, generate contrasts and accent their visual impact. An important point in this step is to perform the assembly of the exterior panorama, which your potential buyer will see through the windows of the vehicle in the 360 photo. Car showroom, city or beach? No matter what is shown, one of the secrets to maintaining realism is that the mirrors of the car reflect the exterior as faithfully as possible, so, when you see them, your buyer will not feel the strange feeling of being in another dimension.  
Plane in edition of 360 photo of vehicles
Properly editing exterior panoramas accentuates realism. (Photo: Perspektiva 360)

Putting together 360 photos with stitching

We have already said a couple of times that a 360 photograph is “built” or “assembled” but why do we say it? Because when editing it we use a method called stitching. Stitching describes in a way what we do with this technique, because we take different planes and join them together as if we “sew” them into an image. Stitching is like putting together a puzzle and that always means making sure that each piece is in place. But not only that, we must also make sure that there is a good balance between all the planes and there are no points with different lighting, contrasts or strange elements that ruin the realism of the experience.  

Optimizing 360 photos for web use

Doesn’t it bother you when a video on YouTube or a movie on Netflix takes time to load? Well, your potential buyers also won’t want to wait to see the 360-degree interior of the car they want to purchase. Every high-quality digital product has a considerable weight and that is one of the reasons why it is necessary to “lighten” the 360 photos of your vehicles.
360 photo of car optimized for mobile phone
Our 360 photos can be viewed on many devices. (Photo: Perspektiva 360)
Optimizing does not mean reducing the quality of 360 photographs, but keeping it in formats that are light and responsive. In other words, we optimize so that 360 photos of your vehicles can be viewed comfortably and quickly on the different devices your buyers use to access your website or web application. This is a necessary step if you also want to offer content that is SEO-friendly, that is, that positions your website well in search engines. And don’t worry, of course we will also give you the 360 photographs of your cars in the original high quality formats.  

Controlling quality

Finally, as if we were not already meticulous enough, we constantly review the work of our editors to ensure that the 360 photographs of your cars and all your contents, virtual tours and other digital products fit what you need and meet the best quality standards. We do not finish this process alone, because it is a product that we make for you, so you will have the last word on the results. Our team will always be attentive to the necessary adjustments and improvements before making a final delivery and that you can release the 360 photos of your cars in your digital channels.  

What are  the benefits of

360 photographs of vehicles for sales?

When you sell a car you not only offer a means of transport, you also provide an attractive good for your buyers for what it represents them: comfort, aesthetics, status, among many other qualities that tell the story of your products and the attributes of your brand. The same goes for 360 photographs. At Perspektiva 360 we don’t just offer digital images of your vehicles. Now that automotive interior design is becoming increasingly relevant, 360 photography is a tool with advantages that are already being used by other industries, such as real estate and tourism:
    • Innovate with technology: You will have an online digital portfolio with multimedia in 360 format that will be in operation all the time.
    • Overcome physical barriers: Your car dealership will not be limited to one place. The most attractive view of your cars will be within reach of a click.
    • Analyze and act: You will be able to measure the behavior of your buyers with built-in metrics to analyze and improve your sales strategies.
    • Use ICT effectively: You will provide valuable information to your potential buyer while having an excellent tool for your sellers.
    • Attract and position: You will offer a different experience for your online shoppers, adding value and positioning your digit al channels.
As you have noticed, 360 car photography is not only an attractive image, but it is an experience for your potential buyers and your dealer collaborators. It is a technology designed to help you sell better with the ideal perspective of your vehicles, but it is not a digital product that anyone can develop. Luckily here we are, a professional team that is dedicated daily to working with 360 photography and video technologies, virtual tours and virtual reality. Our experience will make getting the ideal perspective of your vehicles and putting it online as pleasant as a ride driving them. If you want to show your cars using 360 format technologies whose benefits are positioning different industries in the world, contact us and let’s give an interesting twist to your sales strategies.

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