Create Compelling Visual Content With Just Your Phone
Psst! This is a guest post from guest expert, Alex Blackwelder!
Why Visual Content Matters
Have you ever eagerly clicked on someone’s Instagram profile for the first time and you’re immediately turned off because of their boring, impersonal feed?
I’m guessing that’s been all of us at one time or another!
Despite this common occurrence, many entrepreneurs don’t excel at creating exciting visual content for their audience. So many of us will write paragraph after paragraph of irresistible written content, then just skimp on the visual content component.
Visual content is a phrase you probably don’t hear too often. I want to normalize it because I want entrepreneurs to realize that the images they are sharing are worthy of careful thought.
Phrasing it “visual content” reminds us that it’s more than just images- visual content is branding, information, and connection that our audiences are ingesting everytime we share something.
Boring visual content doesn’t just make your feed look unprofessional or lackluster, it means you are missing out on an important way you could be connecting with your audience.
You have a powerful opportunity to build a relationship with your audience and you should be taking advantage of that. The magic happens when you merge your powerful written content with just as powerful visual content.
Take Control Of Your Visual Content
As a personal brand photographer and visual strategist, my goal with my clients is to encourage them to see all the things happening around them that can translate into compelling visual content for their audience.
Before you’re ready to hire a professional photographer, you should still put time and effort into your visual content.
Even when you’re at the point in your career that you can outsource your visual content, it is still helpful to be able to take photos for the times that your photographer is not handy. Think conferences, workshops, or meetings!
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that it’s pointless if you don’t have a nice camera. There’s a popular saying in photography, “The best camera is the one you have on you.” A camera is just a tool. You can learn to take amazing photos on your phone’s camera. It’s easier to learn how to do this than to buy a whole new camera and begin the process of learning the ins and outs of complicated equipment.
If you want to take the time to learn how to use a professional camera, more power to you! But it is not the only way. With some time and effort, you can create amazing visual content with just your phone’s camera. If you’ve been using your lack of professional camera as a reason to avoid taking photos- stop right now! You’re just hurting yourself in the long run.
Action Steps to Creating Compelling Visual Content On Your Phone
Starting is often the hardest step, so I’ve broken it down how you can improve your visual content and begin finding compelling photo opportunities in your life.
Step One: Improve Your Photography
It is vital to learn how to use your camera. Youtube is perfect for this. Find a few video tutorials showing how to use your specific phone’s camera. Learn how to change the exposure and focus.
Most people will be surprised to find out they don’t know everything about their phone’s camera! If you’re an iPhone user, check out one of my favorite video here.
Learning to see and understand light is the biggest thing that will help you improve your photography. Start finding beautiful light everyday.
Even when you aren’t taking photos, start looking at how the light falls on people’s faces. Start noticing what is flattering and what doesn’t look so good. You’ll start noticing light in a completely different way. Everywhere you go, take note of where the light source is and how it would affect a photo.
TIP: Get out your phone and turn on the selfie camera. Take a video of yourself just moving around the room. Look at the window, put your back to the window, walk up to a lamp, etc! Get creative. Then go and study the video. Where was the light the most flattering on you? What type of light was it? Natural, artificial? Was it diffused or direct? These types of exercises will get you in the mindset of noticing good light.
ASSIGNMENT: Start intentionally practicing taking photos on your phone. Find something to photograph and challenge yourself to take 10 different photos that look completely different with different angles. When you’ve taken 10 photos, look at each of them and decide which you like most and why. Keep doing this- practice and get out of your comfort zone!
Step Two: Brainstorm Your Visual Content
Improving your phone photography is just a small piece of the puzzle. Discovering WHAT you will be photographing is an important step that so many entrepreneurs skip.
While we want your visual content to be visually compelling, it’s also important your audience connects with the subject matter. I encourage my clients to answer three questions when brainstorming for their photoshoot
Who are you? What do you do? What/who do you love? I’ll answers these for myself so you can get idea of where we are going with this.
Who are you? I’m Alex. I’m a business owner, photographer, artist, and partner.
What do you do? I help entrepreneurs connect with their audience through visual content. I am a photographer. I spend loads of time on my computer and with my face in a camera. I talk to clients on the phone. While I’m shooting, I pose my clients to feel great and enjoy making them feel comfortable.
What/who do you love? My partner, my two dogs, being outside, going on hikes, taking photos, traveling, cuddling on the couch watching TV, cooking meals for my family.
Just by answering those three questions, you can discover so many potential photo opportunities that will help your audience connect with you. If I was building out my own photoshoot based off of those questions, I would start with the following:
Photos with your partner and your dogs
Photos of you working on the computer
Photos of you taking photos and interacting with a client
Photos of you enjoying the outdoors, hiking, etc
ASSIGNMENT: Answer the 3 questions for yourself. Who are you? What do you do? What/who do you love?
Step Three: Take Your Photos
You’ve gotten to know your camera and you’ve pinpointed some great content ideas. You’re ready to create some visual content!
The easiest way to do this is to find someone to take the photos for you. Yes, I told you to learn how to use your camera and now I’m suggesting you hand it to someone else! You will be using all that practice to direct the person with the camera.
Think of yourself as the art director. You’re in charge. This person could be a friend or partner, just make sure you buy them dinner afterwards. Another way you could do this is to trade with a fellow entrepreneur. This is a fun way to get serious about creating visual content and a great way to network with someone. Win-win!
If you’d rather go solo, that’s cool. It just takes a bit more effort. Invest in a tripod to fit your particular phone. I love Joby, but you might find a more traditional tripod a bit easier to use.
While taking your photos, practice all those angles you played with earlier. For example, if you’re taking photos of yourself on your computer, take a few upclose of your hands then back up to give a wider view. The entire time you’re creating visual content, remind yourself about variety. Try different angles, different outfits, and different expressions.
ASSIGNMENT: Block off a chunk of time on your calendar to create visual content. Photograph at least 3 setups based off of the things you brainstormed in Step Two.
It might take you a few rounds of creating visual content to get the hang of it, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll probably notice the more personal you get with your photos, the more your audience engages with you. Your visual content should help your audience get to know you and connect with you, so don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.