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HOW TO: Use Your Smartphone Camera to Market Your Local Business

Last updated 3 years ago

Did you know that by the end of 2011, more than 50% of Americans will own smartphones? This tool is great not just for consuming media and digital content, but also for promoting your local business, especially since most of today’s smartphones come equipped with a high quality camera.

That means it’s now even easier to create interesting, engaging photos and videos that illustrate the life of your businesses, which consumers love to see on sites like Facebook and Twitter. So, here are a few basic tips for getting the best photos and videos of your small business’ products, services, and location that you can.  

Basic Smartphone Photo Tips

Test your flash options. The automatic settings on your phone camera will typically set the flash to go off in low light settings, but you can use different levels of light to create different dynamics in your photos. So, test different lighting options by turning your flash on or off manually within different lighting situations to see what kind of results you get. Check out these examples of how flash can affect your photos:

Work with environmental lighting. Also, you can use the natural and artificial lighting within your environment to your advantage by adjusting the amount and positioning of light within the area you’re shooting. Open and close windows or doors, turn artificial lighting on and off, and position yourself and your camera in different relationship to the light and the subject you’re shooting to get varying results. See how environmental lighting can affect your pictures in these examples:

Compose photos artfully. One secret to making smartphone pictures look more polished is to pay careful attention to composition. For example, shooting above or below a subject, taking advantage of different angles can create a more interesting result. There are many tips and secrets for composing photos, so explore some different composition techniques to enhance your smartphone photos. In these examples, simply changing the background of the photo creates a completely different composition: 

Keep it steady. It’s important to make sure your camera is as stable as possible when taking pictures to avoid blurry images, so try propping it up on something solid or using equipment designed to make smartphones more photography-friendly, like a smartphone tripod, which plays double duty when you start using your smartphone to take videos.  

Basic Smartphone Video Tips

Audio – Audio is one of the biggest challenges for shooting video on your smartphone. So, make sure the place you’re shooting in is free of natural noise and distractions, such as people talking, phones ringing, or traffic going by. Keep your phone close to the subject you’re videoing, and make sure that you’re not covering up the built-in microphone with your finger! To get better sound, see if external microphones are available for your phone.  

Lighting As with smartphone photography, lighting is important for producing a good video. So, work with environmental lighting such as natural light or florescent lights, and test different options, angles, and and setups before you shoot your video!  

Framing – Make sure the subject of your video is centered appropriately in your video and that your are close enough to your subject when capturing video so that they fill the screen, because you won’t be able to easily fix framing problems later like you can with photos. So, carefully frame your video before you shoot, and pay attention to little details like the setting, background, or backdrop.

Length – The most effective videos keep it short and simple. If you can time your videos well, that means you won’t need to do time-intensive editing before posting videos online. It may help to script out and time your thoughts before you shoot to make sure you can stay between 30-120 seconds, the general rule of thumb for online video length.

Editing – Editing can be a time and labor intensive task, so try to limit the need for editing as much as possible by shooting your video strategically. When you need to edit or clip a video from your phone, you can use apps like Snip Video Trimmer for Android or iMovie for the iPhone 4.

There's an App for That! 

There are numerous photography and video apps available for both Android and iPhone users that can help you create and capture great images of your business for the web. 

Helpful iPhone Apps

  • Adobe Photoshop Express – Allows you to edit photos by cropping, adjusting color, filtering, adding effects, creating borders, and more, right from your phone.
  • Hipstamatic & Instagram – Let you add filters and layers to give your pictures a more stylized look.
  • Camera+ – Makes your iPhone camera even more powerful with a stabilizer, autofocus, gridlines, a timer, and more.
  • 360 Panorama – Allows you to create panoramic pictures using your iPhone for a dramatic visual image.
  • iMovie – On the iPhone 4, you can use this app to create movies incorporating video, photo, music and sound effects, trim clips, share videos, and more.

Helpful Android Apps

  • Adobe Photoshop Express – Allows you to edit your Android photos by adjusting color, cropping, and adding artistic effects and share them online.
  • Retro Camera  & Vignette – These apps allow you to add a nostalgic feel to your pictures with different filters and effects.
  • Camera 360 Ultimate – Allows you to take more professional photos with your Android camera with various effects and features.  
  • Phoraf 3D Panorama – You can create and share panoramic photos using this app and your Android camera.  
  • Snip Video Trimmer – Trim your video clips from your phone to make them easier to share online.

Have you used your phone’s camera to take and share photos and videos of your business? What tips, tricks, or apps work well for you? Share your ideas in the comments section!

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About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and small business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.


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