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Want to Create Your Own Niche? This Photographer Did Just That - PPA Today

Want to Create Your Own Niche? This Photographer Did Just That

By John Owens

What if I told you that you could completely immerse yourself in surround via a photograph. A complete 360 degree panorama experience created by a single digital image. You wouldn't believe it, would you?

Well this PPA and Atlanta-based photographer, Fabio Musio, came up with a way to do just that and he is now one of the very few who know how to make it happen. Hopefully his story will inspire you to try something new!

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Fabio, a former engineer and self-proclaimed salesman, janitor and CEO, creates virtual tours through his imagery. The tours could be of a building, a concert venue, a park, a car dealership... even space! His photography hasn't taken him out of the atmosphere yet, but (beyond) the sky is the limit.

Originally from Torino, Italy, Fabio moved to the U.S. in 2007 and worked as an avionics system designer. For a few years, he worked 6-7 days a week and was doing nothing with his downtime, so he decided he needed a hobby--an expensive one so he would be forced to do it. Guess what he chose?

He left his job and created his company in January 2012, 100-DC immersive marketing agency, and now has national clients like Google, Red Bull and Expedia or local ones like Atlanta's Fox Theatre or Stone Mountain Park.

He was looking for something on the cutting edge of photography, not wanting to stick to traditional boundaries of the media. He discovered 360 degree digital tours and found his calling. The process involved taking hundreds to thousands of images per scene, then carefully stitching them together to create a single, panoramic high-res image. It takes time, patience and a steady hand. He claims his image of downtown Atlanta taken from a helipad is the largest of the city in existence. He plans to return to the same location to try to enter in the top 10 largest images in the world. 

He first started out as a hobbyist, not seeing it as a future career opportunity. "It's taken a lot of time to transition to a full-time business" he said. "I didn't realize how tough it is to be a professional photographer and I think a lot of people underestimate their skills and offer their photography for next to nothing. But I decided early on that I wasn't going to do that."

360 Degree Virtual Tours - How To Create Them?

These visual tours are intended to be viewed in the public (like in a museum or in a park), on tablets and smartphones. You drive the tour simply by tilting your device. To create them Fabio uses a similar technique as your iPhone's panorama feature. He keeps the camera in the same position, takes multiple images and patches them together. His post-production (stitching) work is just a bit more technical than with a smartphone:

Fabio takes the hundreds of images as fast as he can because the environment changes constantly, people and cars move; the light changes, etc. And if he changes the exposure, you'll see bands of light. So he spins his camera on a panoramic tripod head or sometimes uses a pole that extends to 20 feet. Then he then spends a considerable amount of time post-processing to deliver the finished product without any visible stitching.

"I think about the format, what I want to put on the thirds, but the location dictates if I want to follow the rules. With these 360 panoramic photographs, the rules of composition are meant to be broken. You have to move your camera around to make sure you tell the entire story of that location."

To sell the experience of viewing the world through a tablet or a smartphone, Fabio has to pay special attention to capturing his surroundings exactly as they appear. The lighting and exposure have to be perfect and consistent.

Thinking Outside The Box

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Fabio sees the 360 digital tours as the way of the future. "Our brains aren't made for maps. With the broad use of the GPS we can no longer visualize a quarter mile, while these tours allow you to see exactly how far things are."

"Brochures are a thing of the past," he added. "The future is mobile. You scan the QR code on your phone and take a virtual tour. The better people see what they shopping for, the more receptive to buying they become. So instead of simply selling images, Fabio started selling the experience his 360 tours provide, allowing people to travel places from the comfort of their own sofa wearing the visioning goggles. Allowing folks to go around the world through a tablet and getting the visual feeling they are in a different place."

What sets Fabio's work apart isn't a matter of expensive gear or training. He bought the camera and software like anybody else. It's his experiential process that makes the difference (and a great dose of patience!) And that's what makes all photographers different.

He once spent four hours in the Atlanta Botanical Garden waiting for a bee. But he had a vision, and he waited, and accomplished it. His virtual tour of the Fox Theatre took him two days of shooting more than 7,000 images on location, plus additional days of meticulous editing.

Fabio doesn't follow profit as his main goal, rather values the best quality and experience he can provide. But he also learned early on that he needed to build a business plan.

"If you don't have a direction, you won't know where to go," he said. "My business plan is like a puzzle. I needed to know what the larger picture looked like before I started; So if you start with the end in mind, then you can start putting your puzzle together. That's what I am doing."

To get a better understanding of Fabio's unique work, below are 3 sample links. And remember: grab your tablet or smartphone to get the full viewing experience and tilt your device to virtually explore these locations:

·        Aerial Tours Around the World

·         Tour of College Park, Atlanta

·         Tour of Stone Mountain

And follow Fabio on his Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages.

So what about you? What are you doing to set yourself apart? What makes your work uniquely "you"? We want to hear from PPA photographers who are out there living Be More! Email if you have a story you'd like to tell.


John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burger.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on July 14, 2015 10:46 PM.

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