As I built my business over the years I invested in equipment. I figured that having equipment that was less limiting to what I could create was going to make business easier. And it has, I can’t deny it. I invested in software, computers, cameras, lenses, accessories, and all kinds of things…the list goes on.
The one thing I never spent much time on was branding. Sometimes it feels like this all encompassing term that I just can’t wrap my brain around. You guys email me and ask me so many questions about branding. Branding was definitely my business weakness and I only got so far before I really needed to find the time to buckle down and invest in my brand in ways I never have before.
I thought good branding was a logo and a color scheme and that when those things matched I was golden. The more I started to follow my favorite photographer inspirations the more I realized their work had this “collectiveness” (for lack of a better term) that mine just didn’t have. Each portrait session and each wedding client was drastically different from the next. I had a wide variety of photographic work in my portfolio. It’s all over the place. The photos aren’t bad, but there was just a cohesiveness to my work that I felt I was missing. The question was really where to start.
It started with going to the Showit United convention in February. There was some talk of doing your dream shoot. As photographers we feel we have a lot of creative freedom in our work – and we totally do. However, as a wedding photographer I am still at the mercy of however my clients plan their day and I definitely don’t deem my opinions as anything superior to how they envision one of the most important days of their lives. I just document. I’ve documented many beautiful weddings for amazing couples, but I wanted to document a certain type of couple – something that appealed to me more. Really as a wedding photographer I feel more like a commissioned artist. I photograph what people tell me to photograph. I get to put my own creative spin on it, but I don’t have full control over everything. So this ‘dream shoot’ concept really got my wheels turning. If I could photograph anything in the world, what would it be? And then it’s about how to make that happen.
So months and months ago I set out on this idea to do my dream shoot. In the process of pinning and planning I found my brand. I found that cohesiveness that I was looking for with my work. I found the types of clients that I like to photograph the most. Inevitably I developed a brand and it just sorta happened on its own. Burlap and lace. Two textures that describe my personality perfectly – I won’t go into psychological detail, but it just fits. It fits the types of brides and clients that I work with too. After developing shoots around this idea there were the thoughts that I wanted these photos for my website so I could continue to attract the types of clients I most wanted to photograph.
But then…I thought of my website and everything shut down. I love showitfast as my website platform, but my website just doesn’t have the feel that I really want it to. Investing in my website was going to be an expense, but it’s one I was willing to pay. It was a big investment that I felt was needed at this point in my business and all of this branding stuff was something I think and wish I would have figured out sooner. Life is a journey though and you never know when a good idea is going to hit ya.
So I’m in the final stages of this branding journey. And it is a journey. I wanted to write this blog post to tell you that branding isn’t easy. It’s more than a logo and a color scheme. It’s a piece of your heart and sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to express that. I’m about to launch my new website soon. If you go to my current one at this very moment you’ll see my lack of a brand – and as soon as my new website is up, you’ll be able to see the difference.
I’ve done all these styled shoots with a lot of my own time and money invested in them as well, so I have photos that accurately reflect my brand. I’m so proud of this recent work and feel it might be some of the best I’ve done.
After I finish this process I’m going to teach a class about branding. So many of you have asked. I’m excited to teach about it and hopefully you guys can learn from my mistakes. I think we put branding on the back burner thinking we can get by without it. You definitely can get by without it, but eventually you’ll reach a plateau and you won’t know where your work or business can go anymore without it. I found this entire journey really exciting and it’s the most excited I’ve been about my business and photography in a long time.
If you’re ever feeling burn out, just start dreaming about your dream shoot and see where it leads you.