How to Take Awesome Pictures with Your Phone

By Joshua Payberah; Digital Branding Institute

Yes, we’re all about video, but knowing how and why good photographs are key to your success in digital content marketing is also important. And we want you to succeed. Because we like you. And this is a really useful article.

Phone cameras have come a long way, but they are not perfect. This is where you come in. The following tips will show you how to take awesome pictures with your phone.

You might be asking yourself “why should I care about taking pictures with my phone?” According to data from Skyword, a Boston company specializing in content marketing, articles with pictures get 94 percent more total views than articles without.

If you want your customers and website visitors to see your content, you should try to include many high-quality pictures.

Including pictures in your press releases can even result in more views.

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Infographic by MDG Advertising

Unfortunately, DSLR cameras are expensive and can take some time to figure out. The smartphone has the DSLR and other “real cameras” beat in these two areas.

Chances are you already have a smartphone and you’ve already used the camera app. That’s great! Now it’s just a matter of learning a few tricks and practicing. Here are a few tips to help you take awesome pictures with your phone:

1. Use gridlines

Gridlines help balance your shot when taking pictures with your phone. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the quality of your mobile shots.

Turning on gridlines will place lines on your screen based on the rule of thirds, a composition principle which states a photograph should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. 

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According to the rule of thirds, if you line up your subject along the lines or at an intersection your shot will seem more balanced and pleasing to the eye. This is essential when using a smartphone since there is no optical viewfinder.

Here’s how to activate gridlines on iPhone cameras:

  • Go to “settings”

  • Select “photos & camera”

  • Find “grid” and turn it on

And here’s how to activate gridlines on Samsung Galaxy (Android) phone cameras:

  • Open the camera app

  • Go to “settings”

  • Scroll down and switch the “gridlines” option to “on.”

2. Get closer

When you use your smartphone camera’s digital zoom, you lose a lot of fine detail. Instead, try taking just a few steps closer in the direction of your subject and see if your picture doesn’t improve.

Image Source: digital photography school

Image Source: digital photography school

You’d be amazed by how getting just a little closer to the subject can make all the difference in the world in terms of picture quality.

Image Source: digital photography school

Image Source: digital photography school

3. Lose the filters

Filters were cool once upon a time, but these days they are seen as gimmicky. Rather than using the same pre-set filters used by countless teens around the world, try your hand at editing.

Mobile apps like SnapSeed, Photoshop Express, and iPhoto are all excellent for fine-tuning your photos without compromising their integrity.

4. Clean the lens

Your phone’s camera doesn’t have a lens cap to protect it from all the lint in your pockets or fingerprint smudges. This build up of gunk on your camera’s lens can lead to hazy images that no amount of post-production editing can fix.

I recommend buying a lens cloth and some cleaner. Even wiping the lens with your t-shirt is better than nothing.

5. Try taking pictures with your phone from weird angles

Taking pictures from weird angles can result in some of the most memorable photos. This is all about seeing from another perspective and to do this will require some creativity.

Image Source: Anthony Vitale

Image Source: Anthony Vitale

Think about bird’s eye view/ the overhead — to capture that shot one would need to position themselves above the subject. To do this you can try taking pictures from rooftops, or even ladders.

Image Source: iPhone Photography School

Image Source: iPhone Photography School

What about taking a reverse bird’s-eye? — to capture this shot you’ll have to lie on your back.

Image Source: Michael Kestin

Image Source: Michael Kestin

Think about the perspective of a child or a dog — to capture this shot you’ll want to crouch or lie down on the ground.

I know a journalist whose signature shot is to get behind someone giving a speech to capture the faces of the audience. He was one of many journalists to cover the 2016 presidential election, but because of his signature style of taking pictures, I can recognize his work even without reading a byline.

Image Source: Alan Mittelstaedt

Image Source: Alan Mittelstaedt

6. Forget the flash

If you want to take good pictures with your phone, you should forget about the flash.

The light used is a small LED and this, combined with the fact that it’s not even an inch away from the lens, makes for blurry photos, strangely lit subjects (seriously, the flash makes people look like they have jaundice) and red devil eyes.

So what do you do if it’s dark? Well find another source of light, but do not switch on the flash unless it’s to capture the elusive Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster.

Image Source: Patrick Janelle

Image Source: Patrick Janelle

For alternative sources of light, you might have to wait for the right opportunity and try to work with your environment. For instance, if you’re walking the streets, you might wait for a passing car’s headlights, or a street lamp to illuminate your subject. If you’re in a dark club, you can try to sidle up to the well-lit bar.

Natural light is almost always better than artificial, so practice good time management skills so you can take pictures with your phone while you still have daylight.

7. Turn your phone on its side

The web is a horizontal medium. We consume content horizontally, not vertically. As a content creator, you should aim to produce horizontal pictures that take up the entire screen and not just a tiny slice.

8. Use the volume button

Turning your smartphone on its side has an added benefit — you can use the “volume up” button as the shutter. This is a benefit because using the standard shutter button will often throw your perfect picture off balance.

By turning the phone on its side and using the volume button as the shutter, you will be forced to use both hands. This will increase stability and reduce shaking.

In Conclusion:

The key to photography, like any art, is to keep learning and practicing.

Good pictures are vital to your content strategy.

While DSLRs and other “real cameras” are nice, they are not always the most affordable nor convenient pieces of equipment. It is up to you to take truly awesome pictures with the equipment you have — your phone.

Meet Our Team: Max Meyers, Videographer

The island’s sand and surf is just one of the reasons Max Meyers loves it here in Hawaii, because there isn’t much of that where he grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

Max started out studying Digital Media at Hawkeye College in Waterloo, Iowa, but ended up moving to Hawaii to pursue his passion as a filmmaker.  His passion began in middle school when he was creating snowboard and skateboard videos with his friends, enabling him with an income and on-the-job training.

“There is something so strong about being able to share someones story through visuals and sounds,” Max explains. “The number one thing I love about videography, is setting up the shot. I love camera movements and planning how the shot is going to play throughout the scene.” 

In his spare time, he’s using his skills from growing up on a farm in Iowa to work on local organic farms in Waimanalo. His plan for the farm is to create a sustainable environment where people can come and enjoy the fresh vegetables and fruits grown on the land.

One thing you won’t find him doing, is being lazy. Says Max, “I’m always thinking about something that I could be doing. I always have to be doing something productive.”

Meet Our Team: Neil Laroya, Videographer

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Making skateboarding videos of his cousins and friends is where it all started for Neil Laroya.  Neil says his dad helped, although he doesn’t know it.  “He had a Sony Camcorder that I kept stealing to use for those skate videos,” confesses Neil. It’s the process of the visual language that fuels Neil’s passion for videography and he’s fascinated with the use of light and how it compliments what happens on camera. Videography, says Neil, is a form of art that can create a deep connection with viewers.

The Honolulu native earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Advertising Photography/Video from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. He enjoys training in Olympic weightlifting and Crossfit but lately, most of his spare time is spent taking photos of his two-year-old son as he’s discovering the world around him. 

An interesting fact about Neil? “When I was 21, I went on a month long trip to help film a human trafficking documentary in East Africa, India, and London,” he shares. ”My mother thought I was gonna die and she told me I couldn't go, but I went anyway. One of the craziest experiences of my life.”

The Best Social Media Platforms For Businesses 2019 (And How to Choose The Right Ones!)

By Betsy McLeod

One of the main causes of a failed social strategy is prioritizing the wrong social media platforms. It’s an understandable mistake to make—social media is fickle, and staying on top of the new channels, trends, and current best practices (not to mention the dozens of niche social media platforms like Nextdoor and MeetUp) takes a lot of time and dedication.

That whole “takes a lot of time and dedication” thing doesn’t resonate with business owners who have a to-do list longer than a line at the DMV. So, I’m never surprised when one of the first things they ask during a consultation is, “which social media platform should my business be on?”

Tricky question, and since you’re reading this, you’ve had the exact same one. I’ll tell you this: Before I give our clients any sort of recommendation I always need to know—and so should you—three key things:

•           Are you B2C, B2B, or both?

•           What’s your target audience?

•           What’s your overall goal?

That’s what you really need to focus on. If you know the answers to those three questions, it’s relatively easy to pare it down to a solid two to three platforms to dedicate your time to.  (Side note—Yes, a solid two or three; no more. Unless you have a giant team to manage them all or employ a social media marketing company like Blue Corona, do not try to be on too many social media channels. They each take time, and you won’t see results unless you put in the man-hours.)

If you understand that social media marketing matters for your business you’re already miles ahead of other CEOs. To save you time and help you prioritize, I’ve broken down (and only included) the five best social media platforms for marketing, including their main audiences and top industries for the channel:

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • LinkedIn

  • Pinterest

After you’ve answered the three questions above and matched your answers with the top platforms, you’re well on your way to a successful social media marketing strategy.

Which Social Media Platform Should Your Business Be On? Answer These Three Questions First

1.     ARE YOU B2B OR B2C?

Are you B2B or B2C? Because that changes things. Unfortunately, we’re not yet to the point where people go to social media sites when they want to buy things. There are exceptions—like looking for local goods on Facebook’s marketplace—but a general rule of thumb is that people on social media are at the very top of the sales funnel. What this means for you is that you might be targeting your ads and social media strategy for the wrong buyer’s stage. Unless your product can be an impulse buy, the likelihood of them traveling all the way down that funnel instead of scrolling to the next post in their feed is slim to none.

The best B2B social media strategies aim to gather leads and generate interest in your product. Do this by regularly blogging, creating lead magnets like case studies and e-books, and promoting your company on the best B2B platforms like LinkedIn.  

Be careful, however, because the dynamics of B2B buying have changed, and your target audience might be on other channels.

2.     WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE? THESE 10 QUESTIONS WILL TELL YOU

Every once in a while, I’m served an ad that is blatantly ill-targeted. I’ve gotten bad ads for everything from jock straps (true story) to herbal supplements for overweight pregnant women (also true).

I’m a female, I’m not overweight, and I’m as likely to get pregnant as a new parent is to jet away for the tropics on a whim. 

Every time I’m served these types of ads, two thoughts run through my head:

  • That business just wasted money on me.

  • That business should fire whoever is in charge of their ads targeting

When you target the wrong audience, you’re wasting your money—no ifs, ands or buts.

Take out a piece of paper, right now. Write down the answers to the following ten questions:

  • Where is your audience located?

  • What is the average age and gender of your target buyer?

  • What’s their average income?

  • Are they homeowners?

  • What are their hobbies?

  • What industry do they work in?

  • Do they have kids?

  • What challenges do they face, and what problems do they want to be solved?

  • How do they get their information (are they tech-savvy or more traditional)?

  • Which of all of the above are my top-paying and most loyal customers? 

There. You’ve just profiled your average buyer.

Stuck? A handy—and simple—tool you can use to profile your target audience is Facebook’s Audience Insights.

3.     WHAT’S YOUR OVERALL SOCIAL MEDIA GOAL?

I once spent an afternoon with a nephew of mine who had just discovered soccer. After two hours of chasing loose balls and narrowly avoiding broken windows, I made a deal that I’d keep playing with him until he made three goals. Three goals later, I made to go inside, and he stamped his foot and promptly told me,

“Yea, but THAT’S not the goal I was talking about,” he said, gesturing to the net. “That is,” and he pointed off to the bushes in the opposite direction.

As childish as it sounds, that’s actually how a lot of business owners and marketing managers run their social media program. They’ll say, “shoot for the goal,” without disclosing (or knowing) exactly what the real goal is. Chances are, you’ll have the same results as I had with my nephew’s “three-goal” soccer game—disappointing at best.

One thing to keep in mind is that social media is a “see” platform, meaning people go there to see things, not do things. That makes it difficult for businesses with a long sales cycle to make sales straight from the platform.

The Top 6 Social Media Sites that Are Best for Businesses in 2019 and Their Demographics

FACEBOOK

BEST FOR: B2C, in some cases B2B

TOP INDUSTRIES: Fashion, Auto, E-commerce, Retail, Entertainment, Real Estate, Marketing, Sports, Health and Wellness, News and Information

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: Anywhere from 25 – 55+, both men and women

At the end of Q3 2018, there were over 2.27 billion monthly active Facebook users—1.5 billion of them log onto Facebook daily and are considered daily active users. The most common age demographic is age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of all users.

You need a Facebook presence. It doesn’t matter if that’s one of the main platforms you choose to market on, you need one.

Here’s why: Facebook is considered a local SEO signal, meaning search engines look at your business’ Facebook profile as an indicator when they spit out local search results.

2019 Facebook Statistics You Should Know:

  • Facebook users are 53% female and 47% male

  • An average Facebook user has 155 “friends”

  • 77% of college graduates are on Facebook

  • 77% of adults in the US making over $75,000 a year are on Facebook

  • 81% of 18 – 29 year-olds are on Facebook

  • 78% of 30 – 49 year-olds are on Facebook

  • 65% of 50 – 64 year-olds are on Facebook

  • 56% of online Seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook

TWITTER

BEST FOR: B2C, some B2B

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: News and Information, Retail, E-commerce, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality, Telecom, Finance, Fashion, Retail, Sports

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 29, both men and women

Twitter was on its way out the door until it got a Hail Mary pass from the 2016 election. Now it’s re-emerged as a hub for trends, news, and political rants, all in 280 characters or less.  Another thing it’s good for? Customer service. Whenever I—or anyone in my office—has an issue with a product or service, they Tweet the business. If your business has the right audience and a big element of customer service, I highly recommend making this a platform of choice.

Twitter (and social media as a whole) is becoming a central discovery hub for consumers, so it’s a great place to show off your expertise, products, and creativity.

2019 Twitter Statistics You Should Know:

  • 40% of 18 – 29 year-olds use Twitter

  • 27% of 30 – 49 year-olds use Twitter

  • 21% of 50 – 64 year-olds use Twitter

  • 42% of Twitter users use the site daily

  • 8% of US Companies use Twitter for marketing purposes

  • 74% of Twitter users follow small businesses to get product updates

INSTAGRAM

BEST FOR: B2C

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Travel and Hospitality, Fashion, Health and Wellness, Arts and Crafts, Food and Beverage, E-commerce, Beauty, Photography, Auto, Event Planning

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 35, mostly women, but that’s shifting

Is Instagram the best social media platform for your business? If you’ve got a visual product, the answer is yes. In the words of Blue Corona’s CEO Ben Landers, “Instagram is all the stuff you like on Facebook and none of the crap you don’t like.”

Well said, Ben, and it really hits the nail on the head. Instagram is a photo app, where users upload and share images. While it may not seem like much, this social media platform packs a punch, especially with Millennials. If your business wants to capture this audience and can create high-impact images, by all means, you should make this platform a priority.

Facebook owns Instagram, so they have a lot of the same features and ad targeting options, which makes it an excellent option for brand awareness and engagement. Be careful, though; Instagrammers expect high-quality imagery that tells a story. Posting stock photos isn’t going to work. If you don’t have a visual product or access to quality photographs, try a different platform.

 2019 Instagram Statistics You Should Know

  • 64% of 18 – 29-year-olds use Instagram

  • 33% of 30 – 49-year-olds use Instagram

  • 21% of 50 – 64-year-olds use Instagram

PINTEREST

BEST FOR: B2C

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Retail, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality, Fashion, E-commerce, Arts and Crafts, Food and Beverage, Beauty, Home and Garden, Event Planning

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 45, mostly women

Pinterest is a hobbyist’s paradise. Ask any woman who is planning a wedding or remodeling a house if they’re on Pinterest, and I guarantee they’ll show you a pinboard dedicated to that event. Even if they aren’t planning something, most people I know have a Pinterest account where they keep clippings of vacations they want to go on, items they’d like to buy one day, and new workout routines.

If your audience is on Pinterest and you have a visual product or offer services that have to do with visual planning—like home remodels, landscaping, event planning, etc.—then this is the platform for you.

2019 Pinterest Statistics You Should Know

  • 34% of 18 – 29-year-olds use Pinterest

  • 34% of 30 – 49-year-olds use Pinterest

  • 26% of 50 – 64-year-olds use Pinterest

  • 25% of Pinterest users use the site daily, and 31% use the site weekly

  • 87% of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest

LINKEDIN

BEST FOR: B2B, B2C employment

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Financial, Employment, Science and Technology, Legal, Manufacturing, Marketing, Education, Professional Services, Health and Wellness, IT

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 25 – 45, both men and women

If you are B2B, the main social media channel your business should be on is LinkedIn. Why? Get this: four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions, and LinkedIn’s audience has 2x the buying power of the average web audience.

I love LinkedIn, and I’m considered a B2B buyer. I’m on LinkedIn more than Facebook and Instagram, and I’m willing to bet I’m not unique. More and more professionals my age and in Gen-Z are discovering the power of networking on LinkedIn, and that number’s only going to keep growing.

2019 LinkedIn Statistics You Should Know

  • 49% of college graduates use LinkedIn

  • 45% of adults making more than $75,000 per year are on LinkedIn

  • 34% of 18 – 29-year-olds use LinkedIn

  • 33% of 30 – 49-year-olds use Linkedin

  • 24% of 50 – 64-year-olds use LinkedIn

Final Thought on Choosing a Social Media Channel for Marketing Your Business in 2019

Understanding which social media platform to use for what will not only save you time, it will help you get further down the path to your goals. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it—the social channel’s definition is to be social. We always recommend you spend at least six hours per week on monitoring, posting, and responding alone (Insider tip: use a scheduling platform like Hootsuite to save you some time). 

About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's in-house Digital Marketing Specialist. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets 

13 Video Marketing Statistics to Know for 2019

Original Article Published on January 11, 2019 by Andrew Hutchinson 

As you've no doubt heard and read, video content is the best performing content type on social, and can help to increase brand awareness, interest and conversions.

Not everyone feels comfortable creating video content, not everyone has the capacity to create engaging, compelling video. But the stats don't lie, and with more video options now at your disposal, it's likely worth, at the least, experimenting with the video options on the major social platforms to see what you can come up with to add to your overall marketing push.

Need more convincing?

The team at Renderforest recently surveyed more than 1,000 marketers to get their insights into how they're using video content, and what results they're generating from those efforts. 

You can check out their responses in the below infographic

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