How to democratize visual storytelling

Optimizing the use of a tool you’re already using – your phone – to capture moments and stories for social media/blogs/newsletters/etc.

Your phone, a device you know all too well. In fact, recent research reveals that the average person spends just over three hours per day on their mobile device. Your phone serves as a familiar extension of your daily routine. It’s always nearby – you carry it in your pocket, purse, and hand. You utilize it for communication, checking social media, and documenting exceptional latte art. In an attempt to remain professional and focused, you keep it put away for the majority of your working hours. And while we applaud your discipline, your phone’s camera can serve as a bridge between your company and potential partners, followers, and consumers. If easily accessible, this tool can be used to document the moments that define, highlight, and give insight into your ever-growing company. We believe it’s possible to remain professional while optimizing the use of your phone, a powerful storytelling tool, at work. 

What moments are ‘worth documenting and sharing’? When is it appropriate to pull out my phone?

Our daily work experiences have a tendency to feel nuanced and far from captivating. Sometimes because they are, other times because they’ve become our normal. Try to view your job from the perspective of a curious potential partner. Take photos of significant company events (parties, staff meals, conferences, seminars…) as well as the routine meetings, research, product development, etc. 

Documenting the seemingly mundane in addition to the extravagant will support a more comprehensive story of your team and work. 

It is up to you – the insider – to communicate your company culture with the outside world. What does your work space feel like (AKA, what’s the vibe?)? Is it family-oriented? Do employees bring their pets to work? Do you take breaks to play ping pong or go to happy hour together? Let us get to know the human side of your work – giving others the opportunity to relate to what you do and leaving them with a lasting mark.

Okay, but I’m still not sure how to effectively capture these moments… and I don’t want  my colleagues to assume I’m playing around on my phone. 

Firstly, take time to establish a phone usage trust policy within your company – a common understanding that if someone is using their phone to take photos they are doing so with the purpose of visual storytelling.

Secondly, below are some tips to help you optimally operate your phone’s camera. (For additional visual storytelling tips, check out these blogs posts here and here.) 

  • Avoid two-finger zooming. Though this rule doesn’t apply to all DSLR and film cameras, it rings loud and clear for phones. The size of most phones makes them difficult to stabilize and when we zoom we lose stabilization, thus increasing the likelihood that our images will appear blurry and grainy. If you need to zoom, use those feet. If you want a ‘tighter’ image, crop the photo after it’s captured using the phone’s built-in editing tools. 
  • Exposure. Though the majority of modern phones have quality auto-exposure, it’s always wise to check. To do so, while composing your picture, tap the section of the screen that appears under or overexposed. Depending on your phone model, you should then be able to properly adjust the exposure prior to snapping away.
  • Rather than using unnatural filters, use your phone’s photo editing tools to brighten, sharpen and soften your image. 
  • Utilize these basic composition techniques for more compelling images. 
  • Get creative! Utilize these photography techniques to make diverse and effective photos. 
    • Portraits
    • Timelapse
    • Panorama
    • Shots of nature, food, etc. related to your work
    • Photos en route to events (view from airplane, etc)
    • Generate free giphys of company photos, logos, and phrases (https://giphy.com/create/gifmaker)
  • In addition to photos, focus on capturing short storytelling videos. Use your camera to film brief interviews with colleagues, important talks, staff parties, and more – turn your phone  horizontal for more professional looking footage. If available, stabilize your phone while filming using DIY or simple tripods.  

So whether you’re an avid photographer, or you own a phone that just so happens to have a camera, you are capable of capturing stories, information, and moments that matter and will benefit you and your company.