For the past five years, Joseph Lalli focused his efforts on video production and graphic design through his company, Lalli Visual.
Always mindful for ways to grow, Lalli recently took a big leap by becoming a Google Trusted Photographer, adding a new element to his one-man operation based in Overland Park.
“With this special training, I work with business owners … to provide them with business photography that’s a 360-degree virtual tour of their business that’s hosted and marketed by Google maps,” Lalli said.
Taking high-quality still images, Lalli the “stitches” the pictures into 360-degree views using panoramic camera technology. Google offers the free training to expand its popular maps listings.
“It really enhances a business’ Web presence,” said Lalli, who has a variety of small-business clients.
According to Google’s website, Trusted Photographers work as independent contractors and businesses that are not employed by Google. However, Google certifies them as being trained in the technology and meeting “Google’s standards of quality for taking the feature pictures and panoramic pictures, uploading them, moderating them and eventually publishing them on Google properties.”
Lalli said, “In essence, we are doing its (Google’s) work to map the world.”
Q: What did the Google training entail ?
The first step is completing an online application. Once approved, Lalli received an access code and the training begins.
“It’s online training that’s self-paced,” he said.
It took Lalli about three weeks to complete the curriculum.
“There was a little bit of a learning curve,” Lalli said.
He also had to buy equipment, including a special fisheye lens for his camera, and a tripod that allows him to shoot in 360-degree coverage.
“It’s normal operating expenses that some photographers may not have,” he said.
Lalli has invested about $2,500 for equipment and other expenses related to the technique.
Google assigns an employee to its Trusted Photographers to mentor them through the process, answering questions and providing quality control.
Once certified, Trusted Photographers’ names are placed on Google’s list.
Q: How does the process work for clients ?
Clients connect with Lalli through Google’s list or his website, which he has fine-tuned to accommodate the new service. Lalli meets with each client in person to assess their needs.
“There are few people who don’t need this, but I want to let them know how this will help them,” he said.
Lalli bases his fee on the size of the business he is shooting as well as the extent of coverage the client wants.
“This is a onetime cost that on the backend I can educate them on how to use this as a marketing tool or that those who do market them can use,” he said. “This enhances your Google map presence. Everyone who has used a Google-plus virtual tour tends to boost his rankings.”
Q: Why did you decide to make this shift ?
“With this training I can still do consulting and project management but my focus is now on this,” Lalli said. “I see this as having the greatest potential.
“I’m going into a business that holds more value than the videos I used to do.”
Working full time for an area retail technology company, Lalli recently went to part-time status to concentrate more effort on his own business.
“You have to have business savvy, marketing and business skills,” he said. “You have to be an entrepreneur because you play so many roles.”
Q: What’s been your greatest challenge with this new endeavor ?
“Putting it in someone’s lap and explaining how it works,” Lalli said. “It’s such a unique opportunity for them.”
Lalli sees great potential for his own company now that he’s a Trusted Photographer, one of two approved in the area.
“I would like to build this as a Trusted agency in order to more effectively support the needs of this market,” he said. “You can’t do this as one person. This is just the progression of this industry.”
In the meantime, Lalli likes the challenge of making his own business decisions and networking with people.
“I love working with small businesses and helping them succeed,” he said.