Get Ready for Google Street View Inside More Chicago Businesses

You can already see inside a few Chicago places. Now, a local photo agency will help Google peer into even more. What’s next—a view of Blago’s prison cell?

Illustration: Oliver Munday

Just in case Google isn’t creeping you out enough with its access to, oh, all information in the known universe, it is now peering into hundreds of Chicago restaurants, nightclubs, shops, gyms, and salons.

Google Business Photos, which quietly launched in the city two years ago, is about to expand exponentially. The company just signed a deal with Rosemont-based VHT Studios—the third Google-approved photography agency in Chicagoland—to photograph the interiors of as many local businesses as possible. Says Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, a partnership-development manager at Google: “360-degree tours of business interiors tie in to our overarching maps goal: to create the most comprehensive map of the world possible.”

Orwellian? Sure. Helpful when trying to figure out if that new boîte your coworker keeps prattling on about is right for a romantic rendezvous? Of course.

VHT isn’t supplying this service out of the kindness of its heart, however. Businesses get charged $595 a pop, which includes a photo shoot and creation of the virtual gallery. In September, a week after VHT sent an army of college-student salespeople door-to-door, nearly 100 neighborhood businesses had signed on, according to a VHT spokesperson. They join a number of local spots with virtual tours, including three-star restaurant the Publican and Wicker Park hot spot Piece.

Not on the list: the Office, a secretive speakeasy hidden beneath Grant Achatz’s restaurant the Aviary. You’ll still need to charm the right hostess to explore that one.


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The next Rahm and Karen Lewis meeting


A Thanksgiving turkey

The next Pritzker family Thanksgiving


Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner’s Chicago sex condo (wait, scratch that)


Rod Blagojevich

Blago’s prison cell



8 months ago
Posted by

The reason business owners are reaching out to Google Approved Agencies is because they have something to show. There is no better way to market and sell your space. Each photo-shoot is carefully planned to make sure the business is shown in its best light (at least that's how we do it here at Check out the Pazzo's locations, one of our recently completed projects.

8 months ago
Posted by sjphoto

There are really 14 here in the city that can accomplish these tours. 5 or 6 true photographers, the rest are agency's and others riding the Google coat-tails.
The Chicago market is the testing ground for the Agency model and some of the Agency's just throw money into advertising claiming they are the only ones.

8 months ago
Posted by SeeInsideBusinesses

Google has created two classes of providers of this program; Trusted Agencies and Trusted Photographers. The Trusted Photographers were on the scene long before the Agencies were brought on. The reason is clear; Trusted Photographers are locally-based and locally-focused and work to build lasting relationships with the businesses they provide this service to. They care deeply for each and every client and will work hard to help them realize an increase in customer engagement aimed at your business growth . Because this quality-focused business model is more intimate it takes more time and therefore the Trusted Photographers were not returning the high volume of inclusion that Google HQ needed. The Trusted Agency model was created to get high volume. Trusted Agencies are nothing more than product pushers and just need to make a sale... ,and lots of sales each month. They cannot take the time to build relationships with businesses because they have a significant quota placed on them. They'll sell the Street View tour inside the business and then wish the business the best of luck as the door closes. The the Agency, each business is just another number in the quota. Business owners should decide if they want a professional to help them get the best out of a new Google program or if they just want to get their tour and be left alone. If focused attention to your business needs is the caliber of service you want, then you should seek out a Trusted Photographer. When you get the call, ask them if they are an Agency or an Independent. What kind of attention and service does your business deserve?

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