Technology Your Travel Agency

Tips and Tricks – Smartphone Photo and Video

Written by: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS



Who remembers the days when you didn’t have a cell phone? Who remembers having to lug around a bulky camera and video camcorder on their trips to capture the memories? Who remembers what a pain that was? Technology has forged all sorts of new avenues and the fact that you have a device in your pocket or bag that can make phone calls, send messages, capture HD quality video, and take HD photos is a true reality now. The power of the smartphone isn’t just in it’s ability to stay connected, but to capture, create and promote!


Using a smartphone to create marketing, promotional, or visually stimulating content may have been frowned upon years ago, mostly due to the poor quality, but not today. The quality of cameras in today’s latest breed of smartphones surpass many of the digital cameras that were available just a few years ago and the fact that it conveniently fits in your pocket, well, it just makes the job that much easier!


Whether you are using your smartphone to share content from your latest trip with your clients, producing a short video to post on YouTube or gathering photos for a gallery on your website, your smartphone can be your sole source for these and many more tasks. Let’s look into 7 Tips and Tricks that can help you capture the best quality photos and videos to use in your business today!


Tip # 1: Shoot horizontal, not upright

9 out of 10 devices that people will view your content on are horizontal. TV’s, monitors, laptops, online video hosting, photo galleries and so much more are favored to the horizontal image or video. Let’s fill that horizontal screen with beautiful and branded content!


Break the habit of holding your phone upright on your next trip or adventure and turn it horizontal to capture more of the scene and to create content that will work across every device your customers may be using to view it.


Tip # 2: Use classic compositions

Some of you may have taken Photography in High School or College. If you didn’t or just forgot over the years, apply the full of thirds to your content in every shot. Nearly all smartphones have a “grid” option. Enable that and use the Rule of Thirds to create eye catching and visually enticing content.


Where the lines intersect on the grid filter on your phone are all great places to put the area of focus in your photo or video. Use the space around it to compliment and create a “story” for your viewers to enjoy on their small journey. Remember to pay attention to the surroundings as there is nothing worse than a beautiful photo ruined by an unsightly tourist scratching their bum.


Tip # 3: Keep it smooth and steady

Your smartphone is small and light, but it can be held surprisingly steady. Instead of holding it with one hand, brace your arms against your body for extra stability and support when shooting photos or video.


Try it yourself and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the increase in stability that this can offer. There are also a wide variety of gimbals and stabilizers available for smartphones. These tools used to be unique to movie production studios with costs over $10,000. Today, you can purchase a high quality stabilizer that fits in your bag for a fraction of the cost. Many manufactures offer a variety of stabilizers that take your videos to the next level with smooth rolling footage and a very professional look that your customers will love to watch.


Tip # 4: Make the light work for you

Light is a wonderful thing, but it can be a friend or foe when shooting photos or video. If you want to shoot better video, you need to know how to work with the available light and use it to your advantage.


When outdoors, try and find a position where the sun is evenly lighting the scene you want to record. Having the bright sun behind your subject will make them impossible to see while the hot sun beating on their face may wash them out and make their facial features unnoticeable.


If some parts of the shot are looking too bright or too dark, get into the process of changing your position and finding another angle which allows you to still achieve the shot you wanted, but you’ve got the light working for you not against you.


Tip # 5: Manually set exposure and focus

Not all smartphone apps do this, but try pressing and holding on an area of the screen to activate the AE (Auto Exposure) / AF (Auto Focus) Lock function.


With a smartphone, the most important is the AE (Auto Exposure) Lock because you don’t want the smartphone to keep changing the exposure while you’re filming or attempting to capture a unique point in a picture.


Manually setting the focus is great when you want to get close to an object, and you need to tell the camera to focus on a particular area instead of the whole area in the camera being in focus.


Tip # 6: Mix it up

Great videos that really engage their viewers typically aren’t a two minute long video of someone walking through a store or down the beach. Mix it up by using unique and creative shots that will show your goal message from unique and different angles. Think up high and down low. Think from far and up close.


Whatever your subject, think about what other shots you can get to complement your master shot, and add to the story. Think about someone doing a cartwheel, have them repeat the cartwheel and capture it from different positions and angles, this variety in content will allow for an awesome and unique video when edited together.


Tip # 7: Record good audio, or remove it later

Although important in some cases, most destination or ship based videos you may create don’t need audio. I would argue that they would most likely be better without it. Removing the audio and putting a song with the video can make it feel much more professional and further engage your viewers.


If it’s a perfectly still day, go for it, and if you want to video someone talking, get as close to them as you can to make sure they are heard above any noise in the environment. Most video editing applications can remove “background” noise, however, the better the original content, the better the end result.


Now, you may have heard some of these tips before but I promise you that if you start using all 7 in conjunction with each other, your content will improve and be more viable for use in your business. Going on a trip, whether for business or personal, should be an opportunity to create content and use that content to attract new clients. Whether it’s an amazing airport, popular restaurant or city sight, grab that smartphone and capture the images that will help motivate your clients to book their next trip with you!