As photographers we sometimes forget that what we do is largely in part a business. Sure there may be some of you out there that create images solely as a hobby, but for the vast majority of us trying to break into the business of retail or commercial photography, it’s important to remember that you are, in fact, ultimately running a business. We’d all love to be out there just shooting our little hearts out without a monetary care in the world, but the reality of it is, most of us have to pay the bills. There are, or course, several factors to consider when building your business. I won’t go into too much detail as to all the nuances of starting up a photography business in this post, but I will say that a strong professional appearance is obviously, extremely important. Along with a website, a blog (to some extent), and a social media presence, your personal branding is arguably the single most important thing a photographer can present second only to his/her portfolio. Now I know, some of you are saying, “but what about marketing campaigns, what about promotional materials, what about Facebook?” and to that I say, “you are correct, sir!” It’s all important! You really just need to have a strategy in place and a jumping off point. And your personal brand is that jumping off point.
A Brand New You
When building your photography business, it’s important to start off on the right foot. Whether you specialize in engagements and weddings, family portrait photography, landscapes and travel, or commercial and advertising photography, designing and establishing your personal brand is one of the most important first steps you will take when building your new business. Your brand is not just one thing… it’s not just your logo… it’s not just your website layout… it’s not just your style of imagery… it’s everything … it’s YOU! One of the best resources on this subject is the book “The Brand Called You“. It covers topics on why personal branding for photographers is important and how it works, establishing a brand identity, and creating a brand strategy, and does so in a way that’s relatable and easy to follow. Regardless of whether you’re a commercial photographer and decide to call your photography business Bob Bobinstein Photography, or you’re a wedding photographer and create the business name Avant-Garde Stunning Visuals, you are your photography business. You are branding you (ooh, that’s deep).
Establishing Your Brand Identity
I’m not ashamed to say that when I first started my photographic journey in life, I had trouble deciding exactly what I wanted to do. I shot everything from weddings, to maternity photos, to still life before realizing that commercial lifestyle photography was the path I wanted to take. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that my early indecisions are what’s gotten me to the point that I’m at with my photography now. I was speaking with another photographer just the other day and I used the analogy that I feel as though I’ve always been on the same journey, I’m now just taking a different road than I was before to get there. I was lucky enough to figure all this out somewhat early on in my career, which allowed me, early on, to make some sound decisions when it came to establishing my brand identity.
A Brand New Logo
Of course, as most of us do when starting out, I went through a few different business names and logo designs before finally settling on one that simply made sense… my name. There are several companies out there that are some of the best in the business when it comes to personal branding. They offer their clients everything from simple logo design to full out brand identity transformation, including business card and stationary design, web and social media development, custom marketing material creation, etc. Two such companies are The James Agency right here in Phoenix, Arizona and Brand Envy in Seattle. I’ve worked with the crew at The James Agency and I can tell you they are some of the most fun and interesting creatives in the industry. As far as Brand Envy is concerned, while I’ve not worked with them personally, I can say that everyone I’ve talked with about them gives nothing but rave reviews.
Here are a couple of the early logo designs that failed miserably before deciding on what ultimately became my current logo.
And The Winner Is…
With it’s clean lines and subtle coloring, this new design directly reflects the fresh, honest, playful, bright and colorful style of my photography and business brand identity as a whole. Everything from my business cards, website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account… all carry this same branding. So, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or reinventing yourself and your photography, establishing your brand identity in this fast paced business world is arguably one of the most important decisions you can make as a business owner. And choosing a design and a style that reflects who you are as an individual goes a long way toward others associating your brand with you, after all… you are your business!
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