August 13, 2017

JF1076: Using Your Smartphone to Make Professional Quality Photos and Videos of Your Properties #SkillSetSunday with Tabitha Carro


We all love to see great photos or videos before we go to a property. Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew how to take professional quality content with just your phone? Tabitha is here to help us with that! She has so many great tips and tricks to make great photos and videos with only your phone and a few apps. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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Tabitha Carro Background:
-Full-time certified teacher & Owner of Smartphone Marketing School
-Her company is a a curriculum design business, blog and membership site
-Created two online schools and over 20 online courses that are enjoyed by students from all over the world
-Say hi to her at

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluffy stuff.

I hope you’re having a best ever weekend, and because it is Sunday, we’ve got a special segment, Skillset Sunday – you know what it is, you’re a loyal Best Ever listener. On Skillset Sunday we talk about a specific skill that you can acquire or hone, depending on where you’re at in your skillset. By the end of our conversation you’re gonna be able to have the skill either honed, or help you hone it, or acquire a new one. Today we’re gonna be talking about how to make your videos pop, so make the videos that you take for your investors, for people who want to buy the house, to sell the house, whatever, as well as how to get the word out via design and social media. We’ve got an expert with us who will talk to us about that, Tabitha Carro. How are you doing, Tabitha?

Tabitha Carro: Hey, Joe. I am doing good, I’m very happy to be here.

Joe Fairless: Well, nice to have you on the show. A little bit more about Tabitha – she is a full-time certified teacher and owner of Smartphone Marketing School. Her company is in the curriculum design business. She’s got a blog and a membership site. You can say hi to her at her website, which is her name, (that’s in the show notes link). With that being said, Tabitha, before we dive into the topic at hand, will you give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus right now?

Tabitha Carro: Sure. I am originally a teacher, and I have my degree and my masters degree in elementary education. That’s currently what I’m doing right now, and I will be taking a break from a 13-year teaching period this summer. But along the way, over the past 6-7 years, I began to start developing my own curriculum, basically my own online digital resources that other teachers can use. There’s a website called where we can upload our resources – all of us fellow teacher entrepreneurs – and sell them. That’s where I first got into the business totally; I did not know at all what I was doing, and it took me probably seven years before I realized besides just creating, I probably should be marketing what I’m creating as well.

I was trying to do it with professional photos, with a camera, and I was learning how to make my videos on Adobe Premiere software on a desktop, and it was a lot of learning curve for me and a lot of stress. Once I got the iPhone 5 – I’ve always been an iPhone person… Nothing against Android, I’m sure they’re awesome, I just never had those; I always started with iPhone. So when the 5 came out, the camera was getting pretty awesome, and I started to just transfer over all the videos, photos and designs I was doing via a camera and desktop software – I started to be able to just do it all on my phone, which was really awesome.

By the time I got the iPhone 6, the video camera quality was great as well, and I was doing YouTube videos, talking head videos, product videos, and now I would just use my phone, so I’d bypass everything… I would film with my phone, I’d edit with my phone, and then — I usually still upload to my desktop and post from there. The quality still seems to be better that way.

As I was doing this, I’m the small niche of teacher/entrepreneurs — we’re not that small anymore, but if you’re not in our little world, you’re probably like “I didn’t even know that existed”, but we have millionaires in our group and everything, all that have made their money through this website, just selling what they make and use in their classroom. So people would ask me, “How are you doing this? You’re just doing this on your phone? I can’t believe it”, and I got to speak at one of our TPT presentations on smartphone marketing, and I just realized that I could fill that little passion burning inside about this topic, and I just found such an obsession with trying to mimic visual marketing that is usually done through a complicated process just on my phone. That was two years ago — this summer will be two years ago since I did that presentation, and from then on I was like I wanna really start focusing on this and seeing if this is content that would help other business owners that need to promote online.

I just gradually started with the Instagram account, then website, then I started the membership, and it has just gone really well, and it is just a major obsession; I can’t stop being on my phone, trying to learn new apps, combine apps, just make sure I’m using my phone to the best of its ability to really produce — now you can produce awesome visuals to market whatever it is that you’re promoting or selling online. That’s where I am right now.

Joe Fairless: Well, you’ve piqued my curiosity, for sure. I’d love for you to talk through the types of apps that you use and the process that you undertake to have visually striking video and pictures with your iPhone.

Tabitha Carro: Totally. So for me it starts off — if you’re just going at level one, it’s working on your photography; you do have to understand a little bit about lighting, but with natural lighting and all that you should be fine. I know that for your audience, the Best Ever listeners, you’re probably wanting to do a lot of outdoor and indoor videos. Indoor, you’ve gotta keep that consideration that things are well-lit, but really natural light should be fine. When you’re outdoors, on an iPhone, and I don’t know Android, but there is an HDR feature, and that’s very helpful when you have very bright light, and then you’re having these shadows, it really helps balance out the contrast between the light and dark in those photos. So that’s just a tip that I’m thinking off the top of my head that would be helpful.

Joe Fairless: So when you’re outside and there are shadows, which I would think there will usually be shadows, and you’re doing a video, then make sure you click the HDR option and turn it on, not on Auto. I’m on my phone now, it’s set to Off.

Tabitha Carro: Right, you need to set it On, and it is going to be just for photo.

Joe Fairless: Okay, that’s photo, sorry.

Tabitha Carro: That’s photo. But when I open mine right here, the HDR is white, you need to tap it; then it has auto, or you can set it to on. But any outdoor pictures where you’ve got bright light and it’s gonna have shadows, what you have is extreme light variations, so often times it just doesn’t look good. But when you have the HDR tapped on, it really helps balance and regulate that, and it actually makes those pictures often times look amazing, and that’s right within the iPhone camera roll that you can do that.

Joe Fairless: Why not Auto instead of on?

Tabitha Carro: I think you could totally do Auto. If you know that you’re outside, I would make sure and put it On, if it’s a bright, sunny day. But apart from that, yeah, Auto… I think you can trust your phone, hopefully.

Joe Fairless: I wonder why it’s set to off…

Tabitha Carro: Because typically you’re not gonna use that. You’re typically inside, or there’s just different environments all the time, and HDR is really when you’re often just outside… And you don’t wanna take it when there’s movement; that often doesn’t work well either. But I’m thinking if you’re taking pictures outside of a house, you don’t have movement, so I think it would be a perfect opportunity. Maybe it’s something in settings you could automatically put on, but if you’re gonna also then go inside the house and take pictures, you would not want to use HDR.

Joe Fairless: Makes sense.

Tabitha Carro: Another thing for photos, once again, this is iPhone – you can lock your focus if there’s a focal point, whether you’re kind of far away from the house and you wanna make sure that the focus is sharp on the house, if you just press down on the screen where the house is located (or whatever focal point), you’ll get this yellow outline square that will blink a couple times and then it will just stay there. That is gonna automatically lock the focus and the exposure to wherever you pressed on, which will keep that area sharp and clear, and the surrounding area can be less clear, which sometimes is a desired effect.

Then you also have this little slider to the right of that square, that if you go up, it will help increase exposure, which will brighten up your pictures. I think this would be a great tip when you’re inside the house, and maybe you don’t have full lighting that would be desired, then make sure you lock your autofocus and exposure, and then just swipe the slider up a little bit to get in more light. That’s [unintelligible [00:11:29].10] and it usually does an amazing job without having to go to an editing app.

Joe Fairless: This is the first interview I’ve done in over a thousand where as you’re talking I’m actually implementing it immediately; I’m playing along with you as you’re talking, like “Yup, there it is.”

Tabitha Carro: Well, it’s funny, because I’ve started doing podcast interviews over the past few months and the last one was the same way, because it is something you kind of need to do and show, and this is all audio. The last guy said “Make sure you’re not driving while you’re applying”, so that is a good tip for your Best Ever listeners – wait until you’re somewhere safe to try out these tips.

Joe Fairless: What else have we got?

Tabitha Carro: Basically, I suggest building up first your photos if you’re brand new to any type of photo design and video editing – build up some photos, and then you could just create a slideshow. One app I will recommend – I think I’m gonna recommend two, or three apps. There’s an app called Quik. This is actually from GoPro. This is their app that they bought out from a developer to go along with their GoPro camera. It is really amazing if you need to do text overlays. Maybe you need to highlight the amenities in your photos of what the house provides…

There’s a tiny bit of a learning curve, but compared to any other video editing app, it’s pretty simple. If you have any experience at all with iMovie or something like that, you should be able to catch on quickly. It just does it all for you and it’s pretty flashy. You can’t add your own audio, like voiceover; you can include audio if you were talking as you were videoing… You can’t include it, but it’s more for just layering text on your videos and photos.

That’s actually a very smart type of video to make if you’re posting this on social media, because most platforms mute the volume anyway, so often times it’s pointless to be talking, because nobody’s even listening to the volume, they’re just reading whatever you have presented. So the Quik app is a great one.

Adobe Spark Video app is really cool, because it actually kind of tells you what to do. They have different formats… I’m not sure if there’s one so geared towards what your audience does, but there are definitely marketing video type templates, and it really tells you “Okay, take a picture like this”, and then you have different themes; they really put it all together for you. The only thing is if you use the phone version – and this is not available for Android (Quik is available for Android) – they keep their watermark at the end, so you can’t legally remove it if you do it on your phone. But they have a desktop version you do have to pay, so you could access whatever you do on your phone on the desktop version and make sure to get rid of their watermark if you wanted to.

Then Animoto is the last one. These are all really just taking photos and bringing them to life into video, and Animoto is one; they will do that as well. The app will just do slideshows…

Joe Fairless: So Quik is good for text overlays, Adobe Spark Video tells you how to edit the photo, and what’s the main reason why we would use Animoto?

Tabitha Carro: Animoto is just another top name app. It’s also a website version as well. It has these pre-arranged templates with the transitions, the background… You can also add text as well. It’s kind of like Quik. I think Animoto is easier than Quik, but Quik you get more control as far as like trimming. If you already have a little bit of understanding of video editing, I would prefer Quik. I always go to Quik over Animoto.

They have a whole business-type platform, but it’s only desktop, and since I’m Smartphone Marketing School, I don’t use it… But I know that it has more bells and whistles, but you also have to pay pretty big bucks, and I’m really kind of all about being as minimalist as I can with what I use.

Basically, those thre are great, and I think just start with the one that sounds interesting to you, and that may be all you need. You don’t need to get complicated. Just master one, and then that can be your go-to app whenever you need to put photos together, and your video clips, because these apps will do both.

Joe Fairless: That’s outstanding. So those are for photos and videos, that’s what you walked us through…

Tabitha Carro: Yes.

Joe Fairless: Okay, cool. Real quick, any tip on having a high-quality vide?

Tabitha Carro: Yes. When you go to video… First off, I’m going very basic, because…

Joe Fairless: Because we’re stupid. [laughter]

Tabitha Carro: No, because I am stupid, and I know what I had to learn just two years ago. My husband, he’s very bright and he gets all of this, so he kind of has to guide me along the way. But first tip of all that blew my mind was how much quality you can increase when you just wipe your camera lens on your phone. The first time my husband told me that, I was so frustrated…

If your photos and videos are blurry, cloudy, you probably have a dirty camera lens, because we don’t ever think to wipe it. So just use your shirt, whatever, and wipe it. That’s a big thing to do first off.

Then, what I already shared about pressing on the screen to lock your focus and exposure – you can also do that. I’m not sure if it would be a great thing to do if you’re panning, of whatever like that… But if you’re actually gonna talk in front of the camera or if you’re videoing just a set spot, it’s definitely something you wanna do to kind of increase that focus on your focal point.

When you go to settings in iPhone, and go to Photos & Camera, when you go down — and I apologise this is just iPhone… But you’ll see this section that says Camera, and you wanna make sure where it says “Record Video”, when you tap on that, I would definitely choose 1080 PHD at 30 fps. That’s the one in the middle. 720 now is too low. If you have the capability on your phone to go higher, go higher, but you don’t need to go ridiculously high, unless you want to.

Now on my iPhone 7 Plus we can do 4k, but I never deal with that, because your video is gonna be so large to deal with… It just depends on the intended purpose, but if you’re just doing a quick show demonstration of a house, then I would say keep it at 1080 PHD, and that you can check in your settings.

If you end up getting the iPhone 7 Plus, they have that new Portrait mode, which is for photos only, but that also does kind of this blurred background, and it might work for your Best Ever listeners if they’re wanting to focus on something, but for just general, broad photos it might not be helpful… But it’s super cool for portrait.

Honestly, if you need a new headshot, some of my fellow members have taken amazing headshots of themselves using this portrait mode, and it has that blurred background that looks like they had it done professionally with a DSLR camera. So that’s something to consider too if you’re like “Wow, this headshot is from five years ago. I don’t look the same.”

Honestly, if you have a recent smartphone, there’s really no reason you can’t take a decent professional photo of yourself now right from your smartphone.

Joe Fairless: Those are some practical tips for anyone who uses their iPhone camera for their business, which is, I’d say, 90% of the listeners who are listening to this show.

One other question I have for you as far as social media platforms, and now that we’ve got this amazing content, how we promote it… And we don’t have a lot of time, so real quick, what are some tips to increase our exposure on social media platforms that you have?

Tabitha Carro: If you’re presenting houses, or whatever, that’s visual and that’s awesome and that’s what is grabbing everybody right now. So I would say Instagram, Facebook – those would be great platforms, and everybody is on Facebook. If you choose one, choose Facebook, because that’s where everybody is.

I would honestly — if you’re brave (and you don’t have to be brave either), start trying Facebook Live. You need to have a Facebook page, and when you’re ready to show a house, there is nothing like being live, in person, going through a house. I’m not sure if that would be something that some of your audience would need or could use, but I can see that being an amazing opportunity. Right now, Facebook is really promoting Facebook Live and giving it more priority in feeds, so I would definitely give that a try.

Then just anything visual… If you can think of any reason to do a time-lapse, you have that setting within the camera roll within your camera in iPhone. Time-lapse videos are very engaging. You’ve probably seen this kind of like repetitive, loop-type video, that is the Boomerang app. And even if you just show yourself and your colleagues or something, doing something silly and saying “Hey, come to the open house”, or “Check this out!” or whatever, Boomerang is just a looping video that catches three seconds of your movement and repeats it, and it just looks fun, and it really grabs people’s attention.

I think more than quality, Facebook and Instagram, these social media accounts are really giving priority to posts that are authentic, that are real, that are fun…. So honestly, just be creative in how you can grab people’s attention, and don’t worry if your audio was not the best, or whatever. If you are being personable and you’re just bringing some kind of angle that’s interesting within your video or photo, it’s gonna do really well right now.

Joe Fairless: So many practical tips… Everything that came out of your mouth was a practical tip, and that’s amazing. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. Where can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you, Tabitha?

Tabitha Carro: Well, on Instagram, you can find me on Smart Phone Marketing School. If you are interested and if you’re a course taker, I have some free courses at They kind of give you more tutorials and insight into what you can really do on your phone. There’s one on video, and there’s one on just basics – productivity, getting storage, starting to do text on photo designs, and some animated text video as well. So if you’re wanting to do social media, there’s a course there called Couch Hustlers, and it’s free, because when you have your smartphone, you can get a lot of hustling done on your couch. [laughter] That’s my favorite spot, I don’t know about everybody else…

It’s amazing now what you can do, and you’re not breaking your neck bent over a desktop, you’re just doing it right from your phone.

Joe Fairless: I love it. Tabitha, thank you for being on the show and educating us on how to get better pictures and better quality videos, and how to get more exposure on social media, from the little yellow box focus thing, to the settings we should have on a video, to the apps that you recommend (Quik, Adobe Spark Video and Animoto). Wonderful, practical stuff.

Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Tabitha Carro: Thank you, Joe. I appreciate being here.

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