CAMP 2015: Essential apps for mobile storytelling

JAWS CAMP 2015 l

By Nicole Chavez, 2015 JAWS Fellow

Chavez_MobileStorytelling1

Jackie Spinner (right), a professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, shows a JAWS member how to use her smartphone’s photo app during the mobile storytelling workshop at the 2015 CAMP. (Photo by Nicole Chavez)

You can turn your phone into your best ally for reporting and also promote your work on social media with just a few clicks.

“It’s not really to engage your audience, it’s to attract new people to your platform,” said Jackie Spinner, assistant professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago and correspondent for Columbia Journalism Review. It’s as much about branding as reporting.

At CAMP 2015, Spinner went over the basics of how to take better photos with your smartphone, what apps can turn your phone into a better camera and also a few apps that can help you distribute your photos and stories.

Tips to take better photos with your smartphone:

Use the grid on your smartphone camera to follow the rule of thirds. “Just shift the subject of your photo a little to the right or a little to the left,” Spinner said.

Zoom with your feet. Get closer to your subject and capture more details. Avoid losing quality and sharpness by cropping photos that have too much information.

Jackie Spinner (center back), professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, explains how to use a camera app during a hands-on exercise part of the mobile storytelling workshop at the 2015 JAWS CAMP (Photo by Nicole Chavez)

Jackie Spinner (center back), professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, explains how to use a camera app during a hands-on exercise part of the mobile storytelling workshop at the 2015 JAWS CAMP. (Photo by Nicole Chavez)

“Distinguish yourself as a professional iPhone photographer by shooting horizontally,” Spinner said.

Don’t use flash with your smartphone. It distorts colors and makes backgrounds darker. Turn off the flash by going to settings in your camera app.

Get that special unexpected photo by turning the camera where no one else is.

Don’t use filters; be a photojournalist. But if you do think black and white is a good option, don’t use a filter use an app. Spinner suggested Hueless.

Lock the focus of your camera. Tap and hold the subject of your photo while on the camera app.

Here are tips for making your camera phone into better camera:

  1. ProCamera (for iPhone) or Camera Zoom FX (for Android) These photography apps will help you gain more control of your photos. How? They have more features than your phone’s built-in camera but mainly, they allow you to adjust the exposure, which translates into better lightning in your photos.
  2. Get a camera lens like BeastGrip, a universal lens adapter and rig system for smartphones.

Here are tips for how to distribute your work on social networks:

Jackie Spinner (right), professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, leads the mobile storytelling panel at the 2015 JAWS CAMP. (Photo by Nicole Chavez)

Jackie Spinner (right), professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, leads the mobile storytelling panel at the 2015 JAWS CAMP. (Photo by Nicole Chavez)

  1. Instagram Promote your content and attract some of the app’s 300 million monthly users to your platform. How? Upload photos from your stories or just take a screenshots of your content. Write a caption, add a hashtag and hit publish.
  2. JamSnap Have 30 seconds of audio from an interview and a photo? You’re set. With this app, you can integrate audio and a photo and easily publish, embed or tweet a multimedia clip in minutes. “It’s the easiest way to add multimedia content to your stories,” Spinner said.
  3. Snapchat You can share photos, short video clips from users near you and users you add. Even though Spinner didn’t go too in-depth on Snapchat, she suggested it because of its power with younger audiences, especially people between 18 and 24 years.