Content Creation: Photography

Quick photos are easy, but capturing quality images takes the right equipment, complementary techniques, constant organization, and practice. With this combination activated, you’ll compile a diverse collection of organized content. Pictures say a thousand words, so you’ll be ready to bring any story to life.

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Photos are awkward, but everyone loves having them.

Let’s dive deeper by starting with an obvious fact. Smartphones allow anyone to be a photographer. These pocket-sized supercomputers deliver solid results with unmatched convenience. Taking photos with a phone is fast and easy, but it’s still worth taking time to frame your shot. Ideally, you’re able to leave extra room to make it easier to crop or straighten the image. Another simple trick is to avoid using zoom. Instead of zooming in or out, move physically closer or farther away from the subject. This will reduce the digitized blur in your photos. Also, no matter how good you get, you’ll never capture award-winning shots every time. Take more photos than you need, because something is better than nothing. Lastly, learn the tools of your phone to limit the amount of editing required after an image is captured. Think of filters and photo enhancement apps as secondary safety nets. They can be used to get creative, but the effects they add often damage the clarity of the original image. Like with writing, take a little extra time with your photos to support stronger storytelling.

When it’s time to add to your arsenal, a more advanced camera will serve you well. This camera should add many new angles, so consider how it pairs with your current equipment. Less expensive digital cameras have everything wrapped into one device. More expensive options have a body paired with the lens of your choice. For these cameras with multiple components, go with a body that support the type of photos and video you’ll be working with most. In addition to the features of a camera body, explore what lenses work with it. These attachments determine the photography you’re able to capture. They cost way more than they should, so leave plenty of room in the budget for a strategic lineup of lenses. If possible, start with two different lenses that offer very different capabilities. For instance, pair a wide-angle lens with a more concentrated lens to give yourself a full range of shots you can shoot. Fill in the gaps with more lenses, but having two very different lenses may be all you need. Renting a specific lens for a special occasion is also a fun way to shake things up. Quality equipment requires a chunk of change, but the investment pays off the more you use it.

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As you get comfortable with equipment, experiment with new settings, techniques, and software. I write about a few more advanced photography skills in YDNTB.

With moments memorialized in each photo, bring everything together with photo editing software. Photo editing software is easy(ish) to learn and will take your photography to the next level. In many cases, automatic tuning tools are all you need to perfect your images. As you learn basic editing techniques, let curiosity expand your photography and editing skills. This will push the boundaries of how your photography can be used to tell stories.

UP NEXT: Skill #3 – Videography

Threaded Thoughts

Let’s talk tactics. Here is a simple technique to absorb, translate, and share the (audio)books you read.

Start with one tweet, then reply to that same tweet over and over again. The result is a thread (sometimes called a tweetstorm) that combines your key takeaways and gives you a single link to share your collective thoughts.

Here are a few examples…
Tribes – Seth Godin
We Are All Weird – Seth Godin
This Is Marketing – Seth Godin
Free Prize Inside – Seth Godin (ideal for intrapreneurs)
The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin (great for students)
Startup Community Way – Brad Feld & Ian Hathaway
Think Like A Freak – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
The Hard Things About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
Angel – Jason Calacanis
The Almanack of Naval Revikant
BONUS THREAD – Big Thoughts in Little Tweets

Why is this helpful? If you’re thirsty to learn from (audio)books, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as authors bombard you with knowledge. Passively enjoying (audio)books is fine, but this organizational exercise forces you to slow down, which reduces the numbing effect. In short, crafting concise tweets that are all connected forces you to feel the experience.

Another benefit to sharing threaded thoughts, is that each public post draws out more focused contemplation. I’ve found this technique makes me think deeper, use words carefully, and has actually made me a better writer. Such value is compounded when the entire thread can be retrieved with one link.

Lastly, this exercise generates accountability. When this exercise becomes a habit, you spend extra time with that first tweet, knowing it may become be the foundation for a neat collection of thoughts. As the thread expands, you’ll feel momentum that keeps you listening/reading. If progress stalls, the lingering sense of an incomplete project may bring you back to finish the literary journey. If you must get through something quickly, just craft a smaller thread, but include one post that lists the page numbers for areas that caught your attention. Such a hack is still better than nothing.

To be clear, this exercise is not about pirating content or echoing knowledge like a parrot that sounds smart. It’s about sharing a meaning narrative while leaning into what resonates for you, knowing you’re creating a relic for others (including your future self) to enjoy as well.

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Tag me on Twitter if you try this! I’d love to follow along and will definitely chime in if you experiment using You Don’t Need This Book.

Social Audio

Video may have killed the radio star, but our voices were never silenced and social audio is now connecting them.

What does the term “social audio” mean? Social audio is an emerging subset of social media. Think talk radio with your entire social graph. Instead of a broadcast studio, everyone is able to speak their mind directly from a smartphone. The result is unscripted conversations that feel like a live podcast, with an endless amount of hosts, speakers and listeners tuning in from anywhere.

These audible discussions strip away the text, photos, and video. Your spoken thoughts are everything in this realm, but sharing your voice is nothing new. Talk radio, music, conference calls, voice messaging and podcasts have been around forever. What’s interesting is how social audio companies are transforming one-to-many productions into synchronized, many-to-many experiences. The timing of this growing market also makes sense, as the global pandemic has created an isolated world craving new ways to stay connected.

As Jeremiah Owyang shared in his comprehensive market forecast, a lot of attention has been given to Clubhouse, but there are signals of a market that’s getting much louder. Twitter Spaces, Locker Room, Sonar, Roadtrip, Yoni Circle, Quilt, and Cappuccino are a few more pioneering platforms that have each caught my attention for different reasons. Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Spotfiy are surely working on clones to catch up as well.

After scanning the open airwaves, I’m betting people with large followings will be drawn back to social audio features that allow them to interact with their existing audience on established social media platforms. For talkative people looking to expand their influence, choosing to be an early adopter on a new platform could be a waste of time if the app flops, but with less noise, the reward could be the audience they seek.

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It’s hard to tell if the race to win in social audio is causing this, but more social media companies are experimenting with different ways to compensate content creators. Twitch and YouTube have this somewhat figured out, but imagine spending the day talking on Twitter Spaces. Listeners could show their support with quick tips, while sponsored conversations and other shared revenue attracts more creative talent.

If you decide to share your voice by exploring social audio, remember the words we use matter. These are live, decentralized discussions, but what you share with the world may be hard to take back as many of these conversations are being recorded in one way or another. While this data collection feels like Ursula stealing Ariel’s voice in the The Little Mermaid, we all know the social media landscape is not a private place.

Privacy concerns aside, social audio provides an innovative way for humans to communication. Unlike edited writing, filtered photos, and polished video, our voices in real-time provide raw access to what people think. How might you use social audio to engage in more connected conversations? <End of Transmission>