To bring a story to life through composite art in Photoshop, I often begin with the existential question: What is speaking to me? This doesn’t always come in the form of a place or location, as it did for Sal that day. The spark of an image can begin with a single emotion, a piece of music, a line from a play.
I remember the switch from film to digital like it was yesterday. And look where we are now. I’m about to write an article about your workflow…and it’s going to be all digital. If I wrote this 15 years ago, a computer wouldn’t even have come into the equation. But what does that mean for you? Has life gotten easier? Nope. It has gotten harder. You have more to do and more possible ways to do it (i.e., screw it up). Clients are more demanding than ever (I actually had one the other day who, after I gave her 10 preview pictures, asked for more before the proofs were ready). Marketing is a constant effort. So how do you keep up and keep your sanity?
The customer experience is made up of many different parts. The most basic thing to understand is that it is the totality of all of your client’s interactions with your brand, starting from the moment they find you and visit your website, to the final delivery of their album. If you are a portrait photographer, those processes can be fairly quick, but wedding photographers will likely be with their clients for a year or more. Throughout that entire process, there are many different interactions that clients will have with your brand. One hiccup in any of those processes can affect the overall client experience and cost you future revenue.
Branding sucks. It’s annoying. It pigeonholes us. And if we don’t have a distinct brand, we may as well have started photographing yesterday. Or, more annoyingly, photographers who literally just started photographing yesterday can have better branding/presence/awareness than you, and you’ve been at this forever. Hopefully these tips will make the process a little less painful.
In May, I started a journey to improve and stabilize my portrait business, and to mark my territory as an industry leader. I told myself if I completed the 90-day checklist and fully gave in to the process, I would reward myself by investing in the production of a branding video. Four key elements were necessary for organizing and shooting a project of this magnitude while keeping our studio operating during the busiest time of the year. I think these four things are necessary in everything we do.
I continually try to push creative image editing to its limits. There are so many ways to tweak an image, to get that dialed-in look and feel that you envisioned when you photographed it. Since the change from Camera to Color Profiles in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, the creative possibilities expanded and became so simple to use, adding them to the Basic panel and allowing users to adjust the amount it’s applied.
Imagine this: clarity in your marketing and throughout the experience you provide clients, and clarity of vision among your employees. We entrepreneurs talk a lot about the importance of brand clarity, but the definition of this common phrase remains ironically unclear. If that is true for you, your businesses may struggle to stand out in the marketplace and eventually fail. But there’s good news. Allow me to guide you through some practical strategies that will help you clarify your brand message to increase your bookings and sales.
Your brand is your identity. It defines your value proposition, the promise of value to be delivered. In other words, it sets the clients’ expectations and gives them a sense of security, trust and hope. Branding doesn’t have to be confusing or convoluted. Let’s keep it simple. Here are six questions to help you develop an intentional, cohesive brand identity that sets you apart.
We need all the tools, techniques and creativity we can muster to tackle whatever situations we encounter when we’re crafting killer images on location. Sometimes available light and a reflector, scrim or both get the job done. Other times, Mother Nature needs a helping hand from a flash. Balancing ambient and flash doesn’t mean each source contributes the same amount of light. In most cases, ambient light is the dominant source providing the majority of the illumination in a scene, while flash adds additional light where needed. You may need very little light from your flash to get the job done, while other more dramatic looks call for more flash and less ambient light. Having these creative options makes incorporating flash into your ambient shoots so compelling.
I hope you realize that your brand and the perception of your brand can directly influence how much money consumers are willing to spend with you. It’s amazing how many photographers and business owners in general don’t grasp this seemingly simple idea. No one cares how good of a photographer you are. Process that for a second. Let that settle in. It just doesn’t matter. Business is at the core of your success. Here are some things you can do now to get your house in order so that you and your brand are seen as trusted and valued.