We recently had the opportunity to connect with Kevin Marple, a professional lifestyle photographer with over 30 years of experience capturing captivating images, with a focus on food, hospitality and architecture. Read on to learn about his experience capturing 360 images and virtual tours with RICOH THETA.

Thanks for taking the time to share your photography expertise with us. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and background?

Sure! My name is Kevin Marple and I've been a professional photographer for approximately 30+ years, specializing in the food/hospitality industry. My company is Marple Creative and our studio is located in Dallas, TX. I work with a team of industry veterans, who help me produce compelling imagery and mouth-watering videos for our clients that make people hungry. In addition to capturing food, I also capture the beautiful restaurant and hospitality spaces in which food is served.

That sounds awesome. In what areas of your business do you use 360-degree photography?

The THETA Z1 is my camera of choice - I haven’t tested any other 360-degree cameras. I use the Z1 primarily for architectural interior shoots because it provides crisp, high-quality shots of the entire restaurant/bar. While my clients come to me for polished, high-quality 2D images, I’ve found providing 360-degree images has been a nice value-add for my clients, as its something most of my peers don’t offer.

That's great to know! What other cameras do you use, such as an SLR camera or a smartphone?

I use an SLR camera for most of my food photography, portraits and product photography in the studio and also for interiors and on-location work on a regular basis. I have used 4x5 film cameras, medium-format film cameras, and medium format digital cameras previously, as well.

That's nice! How did you discover RICOH THETA?

A good friend that I work with actually told me about the company and mentioned it could be a new option to offer clients, so I decided to check it out for myself!

We are so happy to hear you heard about us! What are your favorite features of the THETA Z1 and THETA X? Do you have a preference on which you like to use or any benefits to share?

I love the screen on the THETA X, but the THETA Z1 offers more versatility with the settings based on my experience. I have more experience with the Z1, so there is also a stronger comfort level there. Our clients are so surprised by how realistic the 360 images are. The technology has come a long way, and the RICOH THETA 360-degree cameras to impress clients. I’ve also experimented with the RICOH360 Tours platform, and my clients have been equally impressed with the quality of virtual tours I’ve created of their spaces. Adding RICOH THETA 360 capabilities has helped my service offerings to be more dynamic and robust. I'd definitely consider it a competitive advantage.

That's awesome! Can you share a bit more about your workflow and any shooting tips/tricks?

Absolutely! I begin shooting with the RICOH THETA Z1, then move to my iPhone 12 / RICOH THETA APP. From there, I edit within Photoshop and upload to RICOH360 Tours. I think mapping out where to capture each shot on a floor plan prior to shooting is very helpful. It allows you to pre-visualize how the tour will lay out and connect. Though RICOH360 Tours is typically used for home tours, it also works great for commercial applications and larger venues, as well. In a larger venue, you'll want to capture a 360 image about once every 10-15 feet or so. I start at the entrance, then follow the corners of each room. When deciding where to connect, visualize standing in the space and looking at the "next" spot. If you can see it from where you're standing, the tour should flow well. 

When shooting to avoid lens flare, be mindful of light sources directly above or near the camera. Sometimes having two cameras is also helpful when shooting in a larger space, because the battery can go out quickly. One of the benefits of the THETA X is the removable battery, which makes it easy to have a spare one charged and ready to switch out. But the THETA Z1 model requires charging, so having two cameras is helpful in that instance, you can have one charging on stand-by, and one the other to shoot with.

That’s really helpful advice! Can you share an example tour you’ve created?

My team recently captured and created a virtual tour with the RICOH THETA Z1 of chef Tim Love’s newly opened Tannahill's Concert Hall in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Chef Love's marketing team needed images of the venue so they could market it to corporate event planners, so we stepped in to help!

Virtual Tour of Tannahill's Concert Hall (©Kevin Marple)

That looks incredible! Do you think the use of 360-degree images will continue to grow in your industry?

I do think there is a growing need for 360-degree images. Of course, only time will tell what the industry will bring. Hopefully soon, the software to manage 360 images will improve so multiple platforms aren’t needed. That would be a big help!

Thanks so much for your time, Kevin! Are there any parting thoughts to share on RICOH THETA or RICOH Tours?

It's never fun to take on new technology, especially when you need to know the information for work right away. However, the interface of the RICOH360 Tours software is extremely clean and straight-forward. Also, the few times I had to reach out to the technical team, they were very helpful and responded quickly, which was great.

You can find more on Kevin’s work at his website and Facebook page.