My brain has been in processing mode lately, which is pretty much a hazy cloud of muck. I have been running full steam ahead for so long now, trying to finish the website design. But now, the marathon is over, the website is live, and the hazy cloud is starting to lift and some clarity is shining through.
Mostly, I have been learning about branding, not just design. I wanted to overhaul my brand. Not an easy task!
So... What did I learn first? I learned that step one of branding your business is deciding when it is the right time to really brand your business.
When should you brand your business
I hated this first lesson. I fought it tooth and nail. I wanted to jump out of the gate branded. Weeks after I got my dSLR, I wanted a custom logo, perfect business cards, and a killer website.
The problem was that I didn't know what my brand was yet. I was unable to make any real design and branding decisions because I didn't know what I wanted to portray to the public. I had all of these kind of, sort of ideas of what I wanted my business to be, but I could barely communicate them to myself. How on earth was I going to create a brand!?
So, if you can't brand your business right away, when should you brand your business?
Brand your business when, and only when, you have found your photography style.
Otherwise, you will waste a ton of time and money.
You will still need to have a website or a blog and business cards, but you can keep everything fairly simple and cost effective. Then, when you have figured out your style and what you want your business to say, you can put some good money and time into branding.
So... how do you find your style?
1. Master your camera.
Your style won't be able to emerge if you don't know what your camera can do. Know the limitation and capabilities of your camera. Get an understanding of aperture, shutter speed, iso, and light. Learn how they all work together and how your camera handles each one of them. Learn all of the technical stuff so your vision and style can grow.
2. Shoot and Edit Constantly
And I mean constantly! With both your camera and your editing software! You will have a crazy fast learning curve if you are using your camera and editing every day or almost every day. The more you play, the more you will start to see yourself falling into trends of what you prefer and what you dislike. You will also learn how to fix things you don't like and cultivate things you do.
3. Think about what you love
Spend some quiet time thinking about what you love in a photograph. What is it that you want to capture? What makes your heart sing when you look at a photo? Write down notes about what you like and don't like in other people's work, and then write some notes about your own work. Put some good mental energy into finding your style.
4. Look for trends in your work
Once you start producing a lot of photos and start building a portfolio, sit down and really look at your body of work. What stands out? How do you edit color? How do you use light? What types of poses do you love? What images do you consider your best? What does all that say about you as a business and as a person? Even if you haven't perfected using your camera and your editing process, you should start to see some trends, some path of where you are heading as an artist.
5. Trust the process
Not knowing my photography style made me feel so frustrated and lost. It also made me incredible impatient. I wanted to figure things out now! Not in six months or a year or five years. Knowing that it takes time can be a creatively lonely place to be in. But it will happen! You will find your own path to your style and your vision!
When I could look at my gallery of images and see a distinct style, a distinct style that I loved, I knew it was time to brand my business. Before then, I didn't know what to brand. I didn't have a clear message. Eventually, I saw my style start to emerge. The pieces started to fit together, and while my style is certainly not finished evolving, I finally felt good about moving forward with the branding process.
Don't be afraid to be patient with your business. Give yourself some time to discover the style and message that you want to show with your business.
P.S. What do you think photographers? Does this resonate? Or did I totally miss the mark? Where are you with your branding process? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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