iPhone Pro… Friend Or Foe?

Smartphone tech disrupts the creative-market. Content creators, will you adapt to survive?
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DSLRs & mirrorless cameras might still be the trademark of a professional content creator but truth be told… we’ve come to a point in time where everything you ACTUALLY need to create professional photos and videos fits in your pocket…


In the past few years, smartphone cameras (like the ones on the iPhone Pro 11) have been game-changers for small business & content creators when it comes to social media & online advertising. Their software & hardware has been widely adopted to the point where the idea of taking good pictures & recording video has become one of the major reasons an individual considers a new smartphone. 

Triple camera systems, night mode photography software, smart HDR, deep fusion “computational photography mad science”, this is just the beginning & there is no end in sight. Brands like Apple & Google along with other industry leaders are working hard on the development of camera systems that continue to narrow the gap between… a person with a smartphone camera & high-end content production-professional crew.

The positive… When it comes to social media, smartphone camera tech has made it possible for small brands, bloggers, restaurants & bars to create top-performing content without paying top dollar. Don’t get me wrong, smartphones aren’t a practical hardware replacement for EVERY creative professional BUT! There is no doubt that “pocket-sized” systems will continue to disrupt the creative market in a big way.

Depending on where you are in the industry this could be really good or catastrophically bad. The main takeaway here… If you work in the creative field or you’re getting into content creation as a means of making money, your business is changing. Expectations are higher than ever because of the “anyone can do it” mentality. There is no stopping it, the more smartphone camera tech progresses, the more the creative industry will continue to change.


So how will creatives & content businesses need to adapt?
Creators who freelance here and there, “Side Hustlers” if you will… as well as hobbyists who’ve made their first real investment into camera gear… People who’ve gone to YouTube college and have always dreamed of transitioning to full-time self-employment… Listen up, if the work you’re producing doesn’t match up to some inta-influencer’s smartphone content you are S-O-L.

If you’re a “Full-Time Freelancer” working on commercial sets & under well-known agencies… Maybe the business has just starting to pick up & you’re looking for a way to book that big career-changing job and become the next Philip Bloom… You’re at high risk. Here is why…

These days I think we can all agree, much of the content being produced is in support of online marketing. But here is something that might catch you by surprise. Companies like www.ecomvids.com have already begun systematically utilizing smartphone content to create inexpensive video products.

Companies like this focus on creating “content that converts”. You have to hand it to them, creating inexpensive content that really helps businesses sell their products on social media… It’s an impressive business model… despite its total disregard for artistry.

Are the spots they create the best looking… or the most well produced? No, absolutely not. But that doesn’t really matter. Their offerings revolve around inexpensive camera/smartphone videos & UGC (user-generated content). Companies like these find themselves ahead of the curve. Companies like this will continue to soak up more and more of the market share by understanding the problems of their customers and solving them before they are asked to. And with cost per video available at the lowest end prices… Undercutting a quote to win a job feels like losing a war to win a battle.

If you’re a freelance photographer – you’ve probably already lost a few clients to the rise of influencer marketing or “iPhoneography.”  A good photographer’s ability is the result of 100s of hours of dedication & practice. From a technical point of view, the filter fed garbage a professional photographer’s work can find itself competing with isn’t on the same planet, let alone the same level.

Platforms like Instagram that were once fueled by people seeking great photography are now focused on photos gathering likes and comments… The birth of the “shoppable post” has left a 1 in a million perspective much less desirable than a million unique page visits.  Influencer platforms like “aspireIQ” are offering a self-serve experience that helps to connect brands with thousands of influencers/content creators

Broadcast & Hollywood Filmmakers… Just because the work your doing utilizes high-end tech doesn’t mean it won’t be impacted over time by smartphone cameras. Global brands are already feeling the impact, how long before those shockwaves make their way up the pipeline.

The big players in camera manufacturing have already been forced to adapt to the rising threat of the smartphone camera. It all started in 2008. After hitting a peak of 114 million units shipped globally, mid-tier cameras like the “point and shoot” began to trend downward. These products suffered a massive decline of 104 million units shipped per year in just 11 years globally. – CIPA. Since then, we’ve seen point & shoot cameras begin to support more “pro-features” to better appeal to pro-level camera customers. Features like higher megapixel counts, faster frame rates & more advanced color profiles have made some point and shoot cameras like the Sony RX100 series viable options for B-Cams.

Small cameras like this pop up on professional sets often, and for good reasons… “Flat” color profiles allow for lesser cameras to match picture characteristics of higher-end brands/models. Small systems can be put in places larger camera systems simply can’t fit. But mostly, it’s because smartphones and smaller cameras are much more cost-effective “B-cams”. Doubling up on higher-end cameras means doubling down on the cost of production.

For the time being an iPhone still won’t meet Netflix’s minimum requirements of a minimum 10-bit Log processing, and minimum data-rate of Bitrate of 240 Mbps at 23.98 fps. But let’s be honest, the teams behind smartphone apps like FiLMiC Pro are innovating daily. That day may not be as far away as we might think.

Even the RED Hydrogen… RED’s catastrophic smartphone failure… just another example of an inevitable future… delayed but still on its way.

Smartphones will continue to chip away at the camera market until there is nothing left besides “pro” and pocket-sized. Higher bitrate, better color profiles, and full manual controls are only some of the ever-improving features that are beginning to close the gap between smartphone and cinema cameras.

It’s safe to say that the use cases of smartphone cameras & social media will continue to redefine the value of professional content creation. A photo might still be worth a thousand words… but the proof is in the comments section.


…Let get something straight, I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just trying to give my fellow content creators the heads up. Creators like you and me are the life-blood of content marketing and social media, there is plenty of opportunities to go around now & even more to come in the next few years.

In 2019, e-commerce was responsible for around $3.5 trillion in sales and is expected to hit $4.9 trillion by 2021 – statista.com

  • Small retailers may see up to 30%  higher mobile conversion rates compared to large retailers.
  • US shoppers spent $5 billion online during 2017’s Black Friday
  • 84% of online shoppers in the United States review at least one social media site before making a purchase.
  • 85% of orders from social media sites come from Facebook.

…but what level of creative work will actually benefit from this? Sounds like great news, right? The more small businesses need ads the less competition for work, right?

Not necessarily…  


The work surrounding this market doesn’t rely on high production standards, it relies on campaign data.  Successful campaigns are fueled by engagement… This may sound silly but people blow past ads that look and feel like good, old-fashion, professional advertisements. 

Although, relevant & thoughtful-creative will absolutely require a budget… Not every brand that wants to run ads is willing to spend upwards of $10K on a video.

90 million small businesses use Facebook. And many of them are sticking to free tools like Facebook Pages, groups, and Messenger.” – Hootsuite.com [/vc_column_text] [/vc_row]

It’s 2020, content marketing is now an essential part of your business plan.

90 million small businesses? If you work in the creative industry, as a content creator, or marketing expert… That’s a LOT of business coming into our marketplace. Some may decide to go the DIY route instead of investing in professional content marketing… And that’s unfortunate for some as their reputations will be at risk.

The modern entrepreneur understands the importance of business online visibility. And if they are successful they probably already know that trying to do it all themselves is a complete waste of their time. Wasted time is wasted money & at some point, a professional is going to need to come in and handle content marketing for them.


If you’re like me and you’ve been running a boutique agency for a while you already know a good share of this business is going to the lowest bidder. But that’s not a bad thing… Clients pinching pennies are a high volume business. They’ll settle for less than “pro” production gear, they just need decent content, someone reliable and affordable… Perfect, let’s higher and train some local college kids with the latest smartphone in their pockets and get a contract signed…

For creators who are just starting out… Assisting a seasoned professional is your best move. Find a mentor, someone who’s working consistently. It’s the fastest way to pick up the necessary skills & network with professionals you’ll need to know along your journey. Your goal is to understand the mindset and habits of someone who has already learned from their failures instead of wasting time making all the mistakes they’ve already made.

As for those of us out there that are focused on high-end photo and video, it’s time to network. Focus on creating strategic partnerships based on complementary differences. There are tons of agencies and creatives looking to add services to their proposals they can “mark up”. You’ll need to find partners working with brands that value high-end work. Get your rates and your portfolio organized and make sure they’re easy to understand. The key is to be great at managing the expectations of partners and clients. More importantly, ALWAYS deliver on what you promise. Pro-tip, if you tell them you’ll be delivering for review on Wednesday, have it done by end of day Monday. It is better to feel overprepared than stressed to deliver.


I hope you’ve found some inspiration among this information. On the off chance, you agree with some of the ideas in here and you would like some help taking action…

Good news. I’ve already put a kit together with everything you’ll need. This way you won’t have to waste any more time trying to get organized & risk losing momentum. I’m working hard to get it online now and make it available ASAP. You can sign up here and be the first to know when both the free and paid versions will be available.

In the meantime please feel free to check out some of my other paid & free resources… like…

Creating Pro Content On A Smartphone Camera – a free guide designed to help you create content with your smartphone that rivals professional photography.

Trending Foodie Looks | Lightroom Preset Pack – Perfect for content creators looking to speed up their workflow. It’s a great tool for creators getting started with Adobe Lightroom CC.


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