Chicago Pics: A Demonstrative Evolution

I spent last week in Chicago at the Cause Marketing Forum. Before the show and after the first day was done, I had the opportunity to take a couple of photo walks, which produced some of my best work so far in the 365 Full Frame Project, including the header image for this post.

It is nice to see the progression in my skills via the project over the past 11 months. But what was really amazing to me was how far I’ve come since I picked up my first DSLR in 2009, a Nikon D90. In that year, I visited Chicago and took quite a few pics. I think those images showed some good framing, but overall they were classic tourist shots.

I returned a couple of times in 2012, and took some more pics. This time I was shooting with one of the first micro 4/3 cameras, an Olympus PEN 3. There was clearly a progression, but perhaps at this point I was what is called a casual enthusiast.

In 2015, I published fewer shots and took them with a Nikon D810. In my opinion, these newer photos are clearly better in framing, capture and post production.

It’s a clear evolution. Really, it shows what happens when you stick to something over a long period of time. And of course better equipment helps. But I’ll let you be the judge. Here are three shots from each set.

2009

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2012

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2015

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Every Communicator Needs a Real Camera

A ton of data out shows the incredible impact visual media makes on engagement rates. There are many types of visual media marketers are using, from illustrations and graphics to video and photos.

Perhaps the easiest visual medium to grasp and use is photography. Unfortunately, there is a growing school of thought that with an iPhone or Nexus smartphone, a communicator is well equiped to meet the needs of the visual thirsty stakeholder.

Don’t kid yourself.

Every communicator needs a real camera.

Or a good photo site to research and license images from.

In spite of protests by media and pundits, marketers, entrepreneurs and artists alike would benefit from having access to a real camera and photographs. I would tell you use both a camera and a creative commons licensing site. It takes practice to learn how to take and edit photos. Having a resource to access others’ high quality photos is helpful.

The Chicago Experiment

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Have doubts? Still think you can get away with pics on a smartphone?

The Chicago Sun-Times tried this experiment for you already when it fired its photography corps and armed them with iPhones. Fast forward a year, and the Sun-Times hired back four of the photojournalists, even after taining its staff on iPhone phtography and editing. Quality dropped dramatically.

While we are growing accustomed to user-generated photos, quality stands out. Personally, I can tell you that my Instagram photos taken with a DSLR and uploaded via smartphone fair about two to three times better on engagement than my regular old iPhone/Nexus shots (yes, I have both phones).

The value and engagement we see in Tenacity5’s projects like xPotomac and with clients like Vocus has convinced me. First of all, most people attending events don’t take quality photographs. We can better report on them, and provide attendees with a memory of their time.

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Secondly, garnering equity from other events like SxSW and Social Media Marketing World requires reporting, networking and social sharing. There is no better way to do that than with photos taken live from an event. In doing so we provide extended access to the events through our communities.

If you are intimidated by a camera, there are plenty of free lessons available on these websites. Or take a class at your local art school. The most important aspects are to learn how to tell a story with a photograph and basic editing tips.

From there, the world is your oyster.

What do you think? Is quality photography a part of modern communications?

Originally posted on the Vocus blog.