Save Big $ with DIY Marketing– Take your own Pictures!


Taking pictures is one of those things that’s super fun BUT it can also save you money as an entrepreneur. Wherever you go, There you are. Shoot the picture– with your camera phone!

Save Big $ with DIY Marketing– Take your own Pictures!

Wherever you go, there you are. Take the picture—with your camera phone! Are you a business owner or entrepreneur who needs pictures and videos to go on your social media sites and websites to help you market what you do?

Of course, we ALL need them, right? People often use stock photos, which I don’t mind but I’d rather see the real thing– the hand of the artist if you will. But do you know how easy it is to do your own photos? So easy! And it can save you massive amounts of money! You don’t have to hire a pro for everything, you don’t have to buy stock photos and you don’t have to risk copyright infringement in case you just did a Google search to find the perfect photo to go with that blog post but got caught. When it comes to your business wherever you go, there you are– with your cell phone. Take the picture. Tell Your Story!

I’ve spent a career as a photojournalist shooting events great and small and some of the most famous people on the planet too I am proud to say. To me pictures are everything and from where I stand it seems they get more important every single day! Pictures AND video are the first things people look at when online or thumbing through any publication. It’s what draws them in, gets them to pay attention.

There is a secret sauce to all great imagery and though you may already know what it is how often is it the main thought in your mind when you bring a camera to your face and click?

What is the Secret Sauce?

If I had to choose one single word to tell you the most vital thing of all when it comes to great or effective imagery this is it– Emotion. How does the picture make you feel? How people feel and the emotions they experience is the single most important key to the deeper level of visual storytelling. Emotion is what you look for and I could write a book on that topic alone. Hold the thought. For now we will focus in on the more practical matters of approaching a photo subject because even though emotion is the secret sauce there’s still a lot more surrounding any subject in the sense of creating a complete story. The who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how.

The following suggestions should get you started in how to look at and approach situations you want to photograph and convey to the viewer what you saw– and in a perfect world seeking the special sauce and showing how it felt to be there too.

Let’s look at three simple and practical aspects to visual storytelling that you can learn and use for capturing your own effective pictures for use in your own marketing materials.

So let’s say I’m at a public event and I want to take a few photos that visually tell the story, capture the flavor– show what it was really like to be there. It’s very possible to gather all kinds of relevant information into a single picture.  Napoleon Bonaparte said it best–  “A picture is worth a thousand words.” You can see time of day, the season or climate, how many people were there, get a sense of the location and mood of the event.

The Overall Shot— This is the scene setter. This is the picture where you establish location by photographing the scope of a place or an event. Things you might include are people and how many. Is it a bustling crowd or a smattering? Is there a seasonal aspect? What is the overall mood of the event– the emotional experience people are having. Happy? Somber? Lively? Rained-out?

Look for interesting activities happening or some main gist of the event and why people might have gathered there. For example—Let’s say this is a community event with artisans selling their work and there are hundreds of people, young and old wandering through. It’s a riverside locale with dozens of vendors on a beautiful summer day. Take a picture in your minds eye right now and imagine the scene. Click.

The Medium Shot— Focus in on some specific thing or aspect of the event of interest to you. Since there are many artists you might look for one doing something unusual or colorful to emphasize that it’s an art event. For example– a glass artist is creating on the spot. Taking a picture of them moulding the glass into a shape, the heat source, the intensity of the artist as they work. Look for emotion, engagement, interaction. Perhaps someone is watching the process close enough to keep in the picture too so you move in and center the frame on them a bit. That would be considered a medium shot.  Can you imagine it? Click. Click.

The Close-Up—This is literally a close up photo. For example—the artisans hands as they deftly shape the molten glass before it cools into a fine glass miniature that they’ll later sell. You can see the lines in the deft and experienced hands, or the sweat dripping off the artisans face, or the stretched molten glass thread-like. Click, Click, Click.

One Event, Two Stories. Which story are you trying to tell?

One Event, Two Stories. Which story are you trying to tell?

This is storytelling but you are doing it in pictures. Sometimes you can get it in one picture. Often you’ll get it in the three I just described. The Overall, Medium and Close-up. Do this at any and all situations or events you attend and you’ll always come away with a solid visual record in photos you can use for blogging, posting on websites or social media of all kinds.

Showing up, getting your voice out in the world and telling a story from your unique point of view– it’s all a big and powerful part of great marketing.

You don’t have to be a journalist to think like one and tell a great visual story. You don’t have to be a professional with thousands of dollars worth of equipment to capture great pictures and the essence of photo subject. Listen, sometimes only a pro will do so by all means hire one for those important things like professional head shots or high end brochure work. But since wherever you go, there you are why not go ahead and take the picture yourself—with your camera phone– and post all over the place! Marketing is more than just advertising. It’s about connection, top of mind, being seen, noticed and recognized as a solid resource. And don’t forget the secret sauce.

Pictures and videos in social media are the first things people see besides a striking headline. Create and use them liberally as part of your ongoing business efforts. Pictures and videos are just two of the dozens of things I use my cell phone for when it comes to business and I love teaching how to do it.  Do you want to learn all about making photos, videos and using apps to market your business? I’m TEACHING how I do it all. It’s rad fun. Check out my workshop page– CLICK HERE!

About the Author: Charr Crail has been a photographer and artist all her life, and a working professional photojournalist for over 25 years. She specializes in photographing people, entertainment, creating imaginative photo illustrations and teaching. Charr is an oft published photographer in both newspapers and magazines and has won numerous awards for her photography and art work world wide. Charr also speaks to professional groups and colleges about photography and puts on workshops at her photo studio in Sacramento teaching art, digital imaging and marketing with your camera phone to both beginners and pros.

Learn and see more about Charr on her website: or get in touch directly via email:

Beautiful Strangers & Inspiration Happens

imageHas this happened to you?  You see a face in the crowd and are inspired. Something about them gets your immediate attention…  An expression, the quality of light showing off fine features… something intangible. Meet Jadice– who was once a beautiful stranger to me with just such a face.  Chris and I went to a movie premier yesterday and on our way out I saw this beautiful girl doing a selfie with a friend.  Though I walked out of the theatre I had to quickly double back and introduce myself. Moments later we were outside in good light and with my iPhone in hand to do a few quick pictures!   So here is the artistic fruit of an impromptu photo session with a beautiful and unexpected model. Shot with an iPhone, turned into art using an iPad, three different apps and four different pictures combined to create this art piece.

Why it wasn’t done traditionally?  You may wonder why I didn’t use my big pro Canon SLR camera and Adobe Photoshop program and technique on my computer instead of my iPad.   Jadice was there, I had an iPhone, there was the urgency of inspiration.  It’s the same reason Lincoln wrote down his most famous speech – the Gettysburg Address– on an envelope.  It was handy.   And the reason JK Rowling jotted down her first ideas for the Harry Potter books on a napkin while she was riding a train.  OK, I am NOT comparing my iPad art to some of the greatest minds!  The point is ideas happen, they happen fast.  It happens to us all at one time or another… 

INSPIRATION HAPPENS!  It’s fleeting, it goes so fast and we must capture it while it’s there.  Even on an envelope, a napkin or an iPhone. There may be traditionalists lurking out there but notice lately just how much a mainstream art expression our cell phones have become simply by looking at Instagram with all of it’s built in filters and ways of making pictures look extra groovy!  AND iPhone pictures get published in some of the biggest newspapers in the country!  Here’s an example slide show link with wonderful iPhone pictures by photojournalist Michael Williamson— two time Pulitzer Prize winner.  Slide Show:  The Washington Post, Michael Williamson.  

Whatever world of self expression you’re living or working in what really matters is getting it, capturing the moment, allowing the flow and letting art happen.  Feeling it, expressing it and not worrying about how to do it– just reach for the first available thing and get the idea down, the image captured. You can go back later and refine till your hearts content.  I happen to like refining on my iPad in the toned down quiet of a late night.  It has a very different feel from sitting at the workstation in a more business mind mode.  It’s more relaxed attitude and the plethora of interesting apps allows a different kind of creative exploration.   Not better, not freer, just different.

There’s a place for all of it and we, The Creatively Insatiable, appreciate that!

Be sure to sign up for my mailing list– upper right.  You’ll get free original art and you’ll be the first to know when my summer workshops are scheduled!  I’ll be teaching an App Art class too and you won’t want to miss it!


Drawsome the App

Are you as amazed as I am by the number of wonderful apps out there?  I found one recently that has really got my attention in a big way.  DrawSomething.  On my iPhone or iPad, one finger and a bunch of color choices to  get another person to guess the word you picked based on what you drew.  I’m constantly delighted to see how the simplest line gesture can suggest so much. It’s a treat. I’m not advertising for the app.  It’s just that so many artists, including myself, work very hard to get things just right, trying to make something perfect in their art.  This is a delight because of the freedom to NOT get it right.  Just have fun and get the idea across.  So here’s a video of a few of my drawings I managed to save along the way.  Better to keep those creative juices flowing by whatever means, this is one I’ve found that really works for me…