People vs Empty Photospheres

Some businesses/industries photograph really well with people in the tour and others are typically better empty. The most important thing to consider is that this is your business and your virtual tour. We have some recommendations below, but do what you think is best for you. There are pros & cons of both and we explain below.

People in a Virtual Tour

Different Options

In general, the benefit of shooting with people is that it adds a layer of energy to the experience. There are three different ways to photograph your Google Virtual Tour with people and we’ve explained each below (you can combine them, as well). We also address facial blurring.

For some fun and creative Google Virtual Tour ideas, click the button below!

Is a Team Shot Right for You?

Normal Business Environment

We find our customers very split on this. Many like to show people and a state of busyness. Others find it distracting. A general list of pros & cons are below:


  • Creates a realistic experience
  • Shows that real customers are visiting the business
  • Easy to schedule
  • Can distract from any parts of the facility that are worn down


  • Moving people will create a ghosting effect
  • Most faces (read more on this below) will be blurred
  • Less focus will be on the facility/inventory itself

Three Different Tour Options

Team Shot

This option can be done in conjunction with either of the two above and it is straightforward. In one of the photospheres, we can capture a team shot that people will see as they navigate through the tour.

google 360 virtual tour

Empty but Staged

This is the least common scenario because it can involve extra planning required by the business management, depending on the level of staging. The only people in the tour, in these instances, are staged and posing in place. For each shot that has people posing, they hold the position for a few seconds.

google 360 virtual tour

Blurring People’s Faces

Our general rule is that faces look best, unblurred. Therefore, employees that approve having their face unblurred and smile at the camera will be unblurred and everyone else who has not given us approval is blurred. We do what we can, but Google sometimes overrides with a frustrating lack of consistency. Google often changes the rules here with no warning. During some seasons, they leave blurring up to our choice and during others, they want everyone blurred. 

Empty Google Virtual Tour

In general, the benefit of shooting empty is that it allows for the business to look very clean, open, and there are no distractions. The facility itself is the main attraction. This is definitely the “safest choice” in that it is predictable and straightforward. The best way to decide if empty is best for you is to consider the pros and cons of photographing a normal business environment above. 

For some businesses, the best way to have an empty tour is to schedule it before or after you open. But for many businesses we can shoot an empty tour even during normal business hours; it just depends on your typical flow of foot traffic. The Google Virtual Tour is created with still photography, not video. So if it isn’t too busy, we can typically “shoot around people” and avoid them.