The Era of the Empowered Consumer meets the Era of the Empowered Photographer. It’s the nexus some professional image-makers appear to fear, but others — like super shooter Annie Leibovitz —
pragmatically embrace. It was 2011 when Leibovitz shook up shutterdom by calling the iPhone the “snapshot camera of today.” Leibovitz and others recognize the democratization of pixel power through our ubiquitous digital devices. And while Leibovitz does not see smartphones replacing those who wield lenses professionally, we should seize the opportunity that rests in the palm of every smartphone owner’s hand. It’s about creating competitive messaging advantage through powerful visual collateral. And as the appetite for visual content grows — especially online — you, your team, your stakeholders, and your social media audiences can help feed the beast by taking great pictures! Here are a few tips:

1. Focus on one subject. Then, set up your shot with the “rule of thirds” in mind. Frame the shot so your primary subject takes up about a third of the composition, and negative space accounts for the other two-thirds. You can use your smartphone camera’s “gridlines” function to help you balance the framing. Then, don’t zoom in. Instead, move closer to the subject to get the proportions right, and protect the quality of the image.

2. Respect structure and perspective. Look for symmetry, unique angles, and repetitive patterns when composing your shot. All of these are pleasing to the eye, and draw attention and interest. You can often find these geometrically gifted scenarios when you focus on small details and textures. Think peeling paint, dewdrops, or a gravel road.

3. Play with light and color. Like the flash on your smartphone camera? Consider taking most of your pictures with natural light instead. Many times, smartphone flash photography looks overexposed, washed out, and without true, bold color. Using natural light gives you the chance to use light and shadow as creative elements in the overall composition. And when it comes to color, experiment. One technique to try is color blocking, where you colorize only the part of the photo you want to stand out; the rest remains black and white. There are great aps to enable this approach, including Touch Color. Bottom line: give these techniques a try, and enjoy new opportunities to power your brand through amazing, “amateur” smartphone snaps!