I’m facilitating a Peer Learning Program for the Knight Foundation with community foundations that are hosting Giving Days using the Knight Foundation’s Giving Day Playbook. We were discussing marketing plans for earned, paid, online, and social media – and looking at good examples of social content. The Community Foundation of Palm and Martin Counties had this great example of a “behind the scenes” photograph of a photo shoot for their annual report. It represents the convergence of two ideas: mobile phones have great cameras and you can quickly create great visual content as part of your content strategy by using it, along with a few tips and tools.
The new generation of smart phones come equipped with excellent cameras and for many it means that they can easily shoot from the hip and capture moments in your organization’s work that make for great, socially share able content. It takes a bit of mindset change as you have to focus on your work environment more carefully with a visual eye and suddenly see Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter posts you have never seen before. Smartphones, while they are so much better than ever, still have limitations. And it is those limitations that help you focus on your subject.
You can get inspired by from the myriad of great apps that can help you do a little editing and bring out the mood in the photo. But remember you are the one taking the photos, so don’t get carried away by these new and fun shiny objects. But to get the most out of your phonetography as content strategy you have to align your subject matter with your communication objectives and put the basics of good photography into practice. But there are some specific tips for this new genre of photography:
1. Be Quick: There are two principles for mobile phone photography. Speed and simplicity. If you are using an iPhone, you can shoot without unlocking the display. Also, with the recent upgrade, you can keep your finger down and it can take multiple shoots. You can pick out the best one later.
2. Finger Focusing: Many times you will be using the auto-focus feature, but you may decide that focusing on something else in the frame supports your communication goals better. Mobile phone cameras that have touch screen allow you focus with your fingers. Simply touch your subject. This is a good trick if your subject is back lit and darker, the iPhone, for example will auto focus and adjust the contrast.
3. Rule of Thirds: Good picture composition is important. You can do this by dividing your screen into a tic-tac-toe grid and use the rule of thirds for placing your subject. The iPhone camera comes with a grid that you can turn on and you can train yourself to think about composition so it becomes embedded in your shooting technique. Also, the grid lines can help you make sure that the horizon is straight so your photo doesn’t give viewers vertigo.
4. In-Phone Editing: Take multiple shots and review them and delete the blurry, backlight, boring, and otherwise crappy photos. Don’t forget that if you can use photo editing apps or the camera editing features to crop, sharpen, straighten, or filter images to improve them.
5. Concentrate on Your Subject: Mobile phone cameras are much more limited than a DSL camera. For example, you can’t change your lens (although there are some clip on lens for iPhone and better ones coming) and you have to use the built-in lens. It will force you to move around to get a different angle or view on your subject. Will the subject come to life from shooting from across the room or high up or looking down. Experiment.
6. Develop Your Eye: The more you shoot and evaluate your work, the better your eye will become. You’ll probably find subjects right in your work place or nonprofits programs that you didn’t see before. So, take a look around, try a theme, or play with perspectives. The possibilities are unlimited, but whatever you do it has to support the goals and audience for your communications strategy.
A few good apps for your camera bag …
There are hundreds and hundreds of photography apps out there. That’s why I’ve put together this curated list for you. It includes photo editing apps, special filter apps, and photo sharing apps. But that’s not all. I’ve included a select list of resource blogs, books, collections, and additional curated lists.
Share the links to your organization’s “mobilephonetography” as part of your content strategy in the comments below.