We all want great photos for our brand websites and social media feeds. A common misconception in our industry is that striking marketing photos can only come from full-blown photoshoots complete with fancy equipment and an expensive photographer. Not true! While a professional photoshoot will produce great results, it’s not always feasible due to time and budget constraints. Enter the smartphone. Taking marketing photos on your smartphone is an easy way to get into a consistent content-creating routine.
The smartphone as a photography tool
You text on it. You make lists on it and you even set alarms on it. And sure, you take pictures of your pets and kids on it. But you might not immediately think “marketing tool” in reference to your smartphone. Think again!
At the risk of dating this material, our smartphones are more photography-capable than they have ever been before—and that trend is poised to keep getting better. In other words, the quality of photos your trusty tech sidekick can capture is more-than-sufficient for marketing platforms like social media, your website, and even some print materials.
Tips for taking marketing photos on your smartphone
Focus, focus, focus.
First, select your subject! A product, your staff at an event, a beautiful day outside your office—your subject can be any number of things. Just remember what/who you’re focusing on before you to go compose a shot.
Focus also applies to your subject/photo being in-focus. A simple tap on your subject on the lens of your smartphone should bring it into focus for the shot.
Know your background.
We’ve talked subject. Now let’s talk backgrounds. Depending on the type of photo you are taking, you may be capturing an already-existing background (think candid shots) or you might be staging a background (product shots or headshots).
Your smartphone is obviously great for capturing candid action on the fly—so look for creative—yet simple—backgrounds in that instance. If you’re creating your own backdrops, we suggest shooting on solid white, as it reflects natural light onto the product creating more even lighting. You can use white poster board and tape, or even a white sheet (just beware of wrinkles).
Find your lighting.
Speaking of lighting, photography and lighting go hand-in-hand. Lighting can make or break your shot! Luckily, smartphones are programmed to automatically find that light in most cases. You can help it along by taking advantage of natural light when it’s available.
Some may opt to use artificial light sources, like ring lights, to give their photos that extra boost. Whichever way you find your light, just remember—flash is not your friend! The flash of a smartphone camera can create jarring shadows and make your subject appear unnatural.
When taking marketing photos on your smartphone, it is best as a rule of thumb to shoot horizontally (especially if you’re an amateur). Most social media platforms (with the exception of ones like Snapchat) favor horizontal image formats. Horizontal photos also generally capture more of a setting and give you a larger canvas to better-utilize the rule of thirds (more on that in a minute).
Either way, if you need to switch the format of your photo for whatever reason, it’s much easier to crop a horizontal photo into a vertical one than a vertical photo into a horizontal one.
If you’re far away from your subject, or you’re just trying to get a detail shot, you might be tempted to use the zoom feature on your smartphone for a photo. Resist the urge! Zooming diminishes the quality of your photo. Instead, move physically closer to your subject. If that’s not possible, take the shot of the subject from afar, and then zoom and crop when editing.
Remember the rule of thirds.
The rule of thirds is a basic photography principle that suggests visually dividing up your photos into thirds (on either a literal or mental grid, both horizontally and vertically) to create a more balanced composition. Points of interest should fall at the points where the grid intersects.
Use a mini tripod.
Accessories are our friends! While your smartphone alone is sufficient enough to take great marketing photos, an added tool, like a mini tripod, only serves to help. This one in particular can be useful (and is recommended) if you’re taking still product photos, as it will stabilize the camera and let you better control the consistency of your camera placement and angles.
Get to know your smartphone’s tools.
It’s called a smartphone for a reason. These trusty friends have a plethora of tools to help our photos look even better—from the actual shooting to the editing. Play around with the tools in your phone’s camera app to see what might be useful for taking marketing photos. From offering various modes to specific camera settings—you’ll be surprised at what your smartphone is capable of.
Always upload the original file.
We cannot stress this enough. Always, always, always upload the original image file (directly from your phone) when collecting the images you want to use. Whether you upload a photo directly to social media or to put in a folder for later use, maintaining the original file ensures that its quality is kept intact. A screenshot sent through a text and then attached to an email, for example, is going to compromise the original quality of your photos.
Choose a consistent edit style.
You took the photos. Now what? If you follow our blog, you know that we always stress the importance of brand consistency. This comes into play when considering the way you will edit your smartphone photos. We suggest choosing a consistent edit style—and sticking with it. For example, maybe there’s a certain filter that you like to use on all of your photos. Don’t have time to edit? Send them to your agency—like us—to do the finishing touches!
Alright, we’ve thrown a lot at you. But taking marketing photos on your smartphone shouldn’t be overwhelming! It’s the quicker, easier solution to capturing the real time content that you need to adequately showcase your brand and its products/services. And as always, if you don’t have time—we’re happy to help!
McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.