Every Friday we do a Twitter chat on #DigitalPR. This week’s topic was visual content and how to improve your smartphone photography so you can take and make original images. Our guest was Mike Falkow, creative director for Meritus Media and Studio98. You can follow him on Twitter @mikefalkow or visit his site http://www.mikefalkow.com
Here are the questions and his answers:
Q1: Why should we be creating original images – can’t we just use stock pics?
Answer:: Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2015.pdf
Visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated. Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Stock photos can never tell your brand story like an original image can. The media wants original visual content and Google rewards original images with better visibility
Q2: What is visual literacy and how do we learn it?
Answer: Its’ the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image. The definition is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_literacy . Visual literacy is also the ability to evaluate, apply, or create conceptual visual representations of a message.
There’s a very good post about visual literacy by @geoffliving http://geofflivingston.com/2014/06/02/visual-literacy-means-better-thinking/
Q3: Can you give a few examples of how a good photo helps tell the brand story visually?
Answer: Hyundai just topped the USA Today Ad Meter with their Superbowl ad. Watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R_483zeVF8 A good photo / original image can help communicate your brand’s message by visually illustrating your brand or story.
Images are far more engaging than text alone. This medium can help engage your audience and communicate your brand message effectively. A good photo reflects the reality of your business. A perfect example of this is a photo of a successful athlete being shown in action, and visually connecting them to a sports brand.
Take a look at Home Depot’s Instagram or any visual material from Starbucks – it’s a consistently good visual representation of their brand story. The Coke animals meme communicates the brand story of Coke.
Whole Foods does a great job of consistently communicating their brand story in visuals.
Q4: Can a smartphone take really the great photos that meet this need?
Answer: Absolutely yes! Smartphones nowadays have incredible, high quality photo capabilities. And photo editing apps can make awesome images. There are many examples of high quality images being created on smartphones: the film “Tangerine” was shot on an iPhone. Here are some Tips & Tricks of phone photography http://www.techradar.com/us/how-to/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/smartphone-photography-tips-and-tricks-you-should-know-1189841
Q5: Please give us five of your best tips for taking great smartphone photographs
Tip #1: Use the Rule of Thirds – place points of interest on the lines for better composition. There is a grid on your phone. http://iphonephotographyschool.com/the-rule-of-thirds/
When framing a photo, imagine the scene divided up in thirds. Think about what elements of the photo are most important, and try to position them at or near the lines and intersections of the grid. They don’t have to be perfectly lined up as long as they’re close.
Tip #2: Keep the important elements in your composition should be in focus. Always. You can tap the screen to refocus on an object, element or person. More info here http://caeep the ierasim.com/apps/focus-frame-shoot/
Tip # 3: Lighting & Light sources. Use light and dark for impact.
A really great shot could be ruined if the lighting isn’t good. Taking pictures with your iPhone in different kinds of light is all about training your eye to recognize how the available light will affect the scene.
When shooting portraits light from above. It makes for better, more flattering jaw lines. Your subject should be facing your light source (in natural light.) You can find basic lighting techniques online. Learn the difference between a key light and a fill light and how to use them.
Having a second (or “fill”) light will fill in the dark shadows and give a more rounded and real looking portrait. A tablet makes a good 2nd light source. http://www.cnet.com/how-to/five-ways-to-use-a-tablet-as-a-photography-light/
Tip #4: Use depth and distance: There are some good examples here http://mashable.com/2015/05/19/distance-photo-challenge-roundup/#7z8aHFpowaqN
Creating a sense of depth can really make an ordinary image into a spectacular one. Remember that you are capturing a three dimensional space with a two dimensional medium. Distance and relative sizes of objects / spaces can help make an impactful image.
Tip #5. Emotional Impact: One of the most powerful, yet difficult, elements to master in photography is capturing emotion and feelingTell a story. Capture a moment Get the emotion on the faces of the people. http://iphonephotographyschool.com/emotion/
A really great image is one that conveys a mood and pulls the viewer into the scene. If a photo tells a story and tugs at the heartstrings, it’s successful. One technique for doing this is the use of high contrast lighting You can also use vivid colors or wide contrast.
Q6: How do we capture emotion in a photograph?
Answer: Be patient. Wait for the right moment. The best photos of this kind are candid, close up images of people experiencing real emotion – a couple sharing a loving moment, friends sharing a good laugh, or a sad moment of solitude. Be ready and be patient so you can capture that moment. Use close ups to get the impact.
Capture the story. 7 tips in this post http://mcpactions.com/2014/07/07/capture-emotion-photography/
You can communicate emotion with authenticity, movement, spontaneity, and mood. And look for emotions other than happiness. Focus on details. Eyes are a great for showing emotion.
Q7: Any other tips you have for marketers and PR pros?
Answer: Practice, practice, practice. Take a look online for smartphone photography tips. Shoot shoot shoot. And have fun!
Thanks to Mike for sharing his insights. Ifyou have questions you can tweet him @mikefalkow
If your PR or marketing team needs help with, or training in, visual content, give us a call. 626 676 6419.