Photo_hands

There are 1.5 billion smartphones in the world.  According to Business Insider,

“The annual smartphone growth rate in 2013 is projected to be 44 percent, which is just ever-so-slightly down from 2012′s 45 percent but is still a torrid pace.”

With cameras built-in to most of these phones, that’s a lot of photographers. And with over 16 billion photos published via 3 year-old Instagram, a ton of people are getting better all the time at ‘pretty good’ photography.

We are all adopting new behaviors about capturing, publishing and sharing pictures. Brands can take advantage of this change (and should).

Empower your crowd of could-be photographers

Percolate has done quit a few smart things. I particularly like them because they are committed to design. Not ‘make-it-pretty-design’ but putting design at the heart of their products where they really listen to users and solve problems via design first, technology second. This includes their approach to image capture.

Percolate_Photographer_App

Photographer 2.0 is one of the great features in their platform for sourcing content. Simply put, it’s an app that allows a distributed group of photographers –like your employees in your marcom department – to grab images and send them to the Percolate content workflow. These images pop into a database ready for publishing via your content + community team via Facebook, Instagram, dotcom and more.

Imagine giving select people within your marcom team, the enthusiastic designer in the product design lab, the event-team, even the sales team, the simple instructions to be on the lookout for interesting visual moments. It could be behind-the-scenes at the brand film shoot, on the floor of the trade show, even a spontaneous customer testimonial. The IOS and Android app acknowledges that ‘pretty good’ and authentic photos are valuable.

You don’t need 1000 employees shooting images to make this worthwhile. 

Empower a crowd of photographers

This same idea can be broadened outside an organization to engage a world’s worth of photographers. Imagine yourself a home furnishings brand like Ikea or a property insurance company. What if you could enlist 500 photographers from 35 countries to capture images of what they consider “home?”  As part of a focused program (aka “campaign”), you could get unique content that really brought the idea of home to life via the visual images. These come from experienced photographers working in more of a journalism mode (nimble assignments).

Scoopshot is doing what Visual.ly is doing for infographics – providing a simple to access marketplace of photographers.

Here’s how they explain it:

“Scoopshot currently offers the media and brands unrivalled access to more than 280,000 photographers, and counting, in over 170 countries worldwide. Scoopshot's service is used by more than 60 publications globally including Metro International, WAZ Media Group, the Daily Star, De Persgroep, Ebyline, MTV3 Finland, Expressen and Hürriyet.

Scoopshot has recently launched a new web-based platform, Scoopshot Labs. The new service, published May 2013, aims to make crowdsourcing and authentic mobile photography accessible to everyone, individuals and companies alike.”

As brands adjust their ideas about where content comes from, crowdsourcing visual imagery either through a field-force of friendlies (people who know your brand like employees or agency partners) or through a world-wide, efficient marketplace deserves a section of the New Marketing playbook.