Mister360 Learning

Expert techniques and best-practise processes

Advice for shooting 360 VR tours


When shooting a 360 VR photo tour of a property or a similar multi-room space there are a number of things you should consider. This article goes into some detail – possibly more detail than you’ve considered before. If a shoot is relatively low budget and the client isn’t fussy then you may choose not to worry much about some of these, but even then anyone shooting professionally should be aware of all these points.

With all of the following advice, remember that consistency within a VR tour is absolutely vital. Pick an approach that fits best with the space you’re shooting, the kind of tour that’s wanted, and of course with your client’s expectations and needs – and then stick to it.

But first, before tackling any of these things, make sure you are comfortable and familiar with all the core functions of your camera, whether it’s a one-shot 360 device or you’re using a regular camera and a panorama head. There are few things more stressful than being in the middle of a shoot and not being sure you’re using the camera properly! Make test tour shoots at home and take the results right through to a finished VR tour so you’ve checked all the basics from start to finish.

Linked with this, always carry a lens cloth, spare memory cards, and camera batteries or a fully charged power bank, and if you’re controlling the camera with your phone be absolutely certain it won’t run out of power either. Being over-prepared is never a problem!


Camera height

This should normally be around 5ft 4in (1.64m) to 5ft 9in (1.75m), or simply around the chin height of the main character. I’m 6ft (1.82m) tall, and I generally shoot with the lens at my collarbone level. This tends to feel very natural for viewers, even when they are significantly taller (or shorter) than this, and even when viewed in a VR headset. This is discussed in more detail in ‘How high is too high?,’ a blog post I wrote in 2022 for Meta.

Camera support

Use a tripod where possible, but avoid extending its legs too far out or they’ll appear in the bottom (nadir) of each shot. This can happen even if the downwards view angle is restricted, you add a nadir cap graphic, or you use a one-shot 360 camera that pinches in the nadir (the ‘invisible selfie stick’ feature). Extend the centre column in preference to fully extending the legs – but always make sure the tripod is stable and secure.

Monopods or poles with mini-tripod supports can be useful as they have a smaller visual footprint, but beware of setups that don’t keep the camera very steady (small wobbles can cause blurry shots) or that risk tipping over and trashing your camera. There are some excellent professional products in this area (for example see the Bushman Monopod V2, the even more impressive Bushman Monopod Pro, and the video-oriented Freedom360 VR Stick Tripod). Cheaper products can be found, but many aren't stable enough for more than table-top use even with small one-shot 360 cameras. Compare the cost of a decent support against the cost of replacing your camera after a cheap one let you down – especially if it happened while on a commercial shoot!


Unless you’re shooting with people or other moving elements in a scene, keep the camera’s ISO as low as it can go, even if this means extremely long shutter speeds. This will give you the cleanest, most noise-free possible results, and cameras typically also deliver their best dynamic range (handling of very dark and very light areas) at their base ISO setting.

Dark clothing, high-viz vest

Okay, it's not really equipment as such, but if there's any chance you may be visible in a reflective surface then make sure you're wearing dark clothes. Anything bright will be far more noticeable in even the dimmest reflections, so this can save you work in post-production.

As well as dressing in dark clothes, you should also carry a high-viz vest as a matter of course when going to a location. Sometimes this will be an absolute requirement, for example when shooting in train stations, and not having one could mean you're simply not allowed to shoot even with full client permissions forms in hand. A high-viz item can also be useful placed at the base of your camera support if you need to walk away from it in a busy location.


Space prep

If the goal is to capture a moment in time, for example a busy working art studio, then shooting regardless of clutter is fine. However, most paid work is done to capture and present a space in an attractive, even idealised way, so preparing and dressing each room is vital. Ask the client to ensure spaces look as they want, removing or tidying anything that’s clutter. When you get to each space, walk around it to make sure that it looks right, particularly from your shooting points. Check surfaces, tweak curtains, plump cushions, hide or empty trash cans, straighten rugs and chairs, and so on. Make the space feel ready for whatever its use may be, and make it feel inviting.

Shot positions

Are you aiming for a StreetView-style or Matterport-style navigation system where the viewer moves in 6-8ft (~2m) jumps as they navigate through the spaces? Or are you creating more of a showcase by putting someone at the ideal spot for viewing each space and having minimal jump-steps between each one? The former risks boring visitors with too many clicks to get around, the latter risks confusing visitors with disconnected navigation.

My preference is to lean towards the latter, as boring visitors with tedious repetitive navigation clicks is generally the quickest way to lose them. Where it’s important to create a walkthrough feeling I look for places where intermediate shots help link showcase scenes and help the visitor build a mental map of the space. Creating an interactive floor plan is also helpful and can speed up a visitor's understanding of the overall space, but these take more work to implement and so should be factored into your production cost estimates.

Hero shot positions

Regardless of what kind of shot spacing method you choose, each room will have a point which shows it at its best. There may be more than one point if the space isn't a simple one, but always look for what feels like an ideal position and make sure you capture from there.


Closed doors are less inviting than open ones, so unless there are specific reasons to have doors between spaces closed you should open them before shooting. Yes, you can place a navigation hotspot on a closed door, but this does introduce subtle cognitive dissonance, especially if the shooting position is relatively close to the door.

If you’re going to get clever with ‘change state’ animations of doors opening when clicked that does change things somewhat, but that’s a production complication that your chosen tour production software or service may not support, and it does take more time and expertise to implement well. Remember too that things such as this can feel more ‘clever-clever’ than actually good for the visitor.


Natural light from windows is normally important and makes most spaces feel better, but it can introduce a wide range of challenges. The first couple of the following issues are best tackled first by asking the client to check, but even then you should look yourself as you work.

  • Do the blinds or curtains all work properly? It’s surprisingly common for horizontal or vertical ‘strip’ blinds in particular to not work properly and hang in awkward ways. Do a walkthrough check of all the spaces before you begin. Note any issues and see if they can be dealt with before you start, or at least before you get to them.
  • Are the windows themselves clean? If not, the results can look distracting and you may be faced with post-production cleanup work. This isn’t necessarily a big problem, but it does take time and requires some experience to do well.
  • Is the view outside too distracting? Again, this can be ‘fixed in post,’ with anything from subtle focus-style blurring to wholesale replacement, but it adds time to the post-production stage.
  • Is the outside much brighter than the inside? This is almost inevitable, and it places real demands on your camera’s ability to capture a wide dynamic range. In-camera HDR-style features can help by capturing different exposures and merging them, but the results can look a little unnatural; do tests in a variety of environments ahead of time so you know what to expect. Taking bracketed shots with a regular camera on a pano head and merging them in post-production can give more control, but this does take a bit more work and experience.


Few rooms will look at their best in photos with just natural light from windows, even if that’s how the spaces are normally used. Be prepared to switch on the room lighting to add to incidental daylight, and watch out for these common issues:

  • Do all the lights work? Sometimes a bulb or tube has failed and needs to be replaced. This is something that the client should, ideally, have been asked to check and deal with before shooting begins, but the reality is that it’s something that you will face regularly. Sometimes the effect isn’t a problem. Occasionally a careful bit of local editing can counter a shadowy appearance where part of a room isn’t as well lit as it should be. But sometimes it’s worth pointing this out to the client so they’re aware that it’s not ideal and may be noticeable in the final work.
  • Are there white balance issues? This is very often a problem when mixing natural light from windows with artificial lighting; regular daytime natural light will be more blue than most room lighting, and this can make areas near windows feel cold and uninviting. Dealing this requires either shooting near dawn or dusk when the outside light is warmer or, more practically, making careful adjustments to the captured images in post-production.
  • White balance can also be a problem with different kinds of artificial light, with one producing a warmer, cooler or even greener light than its neighbor. If bulbs or tubes can be changed so everything’s the same – and the budget allows for the extra time – that’s a good solution, but as with fixing natural and artificial lighting balance issues it’s possible to normalise these imbalances in post.

TV screens and other equipment

A blank, black screen can feel a bit monolithic, especially if it’s quite large or close to the shooting position. You can always add an image to a screen afterwards in post-production, but if a suitable image can be shown while you shoot this saves the extra work and ensures that subtle details such as lighting overspill on the screen bezels and the immediate surroundings are natural and accurate.

Devices such as coffee machines, hifi amps, and even networking hubs in cabinets should normally be switched on so their working lights are visible. If that’s not simple to do then it may not be worth the hassle, but be aware that some items can look like they’re broken if they have no signs of life in a photo.

People or not?

Shooting empty spaces is normal for regular virtual tours. It's faster than dealing with people, there are fewer distractions in the final scenes, you don't need to consider logging permission or filling in model release forms, and so on. However, some tours really do look better when there are people within the scenes to give context, set the mood, and help the viewer feel connected.

If you do shoot scenes with people, beware of slow shutter speeds as people will rarely manage to hold still enough while looking natural. You will probably need to raise the camera's ISO a few stops, which means you'll also probably have to deal with noise reduction in the final shots. Finally, take multiple shots for each scene. You will inevitably end up with some where eyes are closed or other similar problems, so make sure you have options to choose from.

If you have to shoot without people but you can't evacuate the premises for your shoot, take a look at Removing People from 360 Photo Scenes for some advice and a useful technique.

Mobile: +44 (0)7909 541365, email: thatkeith@mac.com