The Style Cycle: Q & A
Before we get into homework, we have questions.
Absolutely. And we have a good amount of time for some questions, so please grab a mike if you have one here in the studio audience, but we can start with folks at home. This question had come in earlier. Which was, what is the difference between style and brand?
Mhmm, a great question. Okay. Style is an expression of you as an artist. Style is what your soul wants to say, in your work. Because we are artists and we're selling our work, our brand is very closely related to our style. However, a brand is a business's visual presence. It's personality, and the moral promise it provides to its customers. Your style kind of wraps around all that. Your style is mainly the visual presence of your company, but there's other components that going back, your logo, the look of your studio, the product line you carry, how you dress. The customer service, all that has a -- Sorry, that's not the visual part, but your collateral, all that tends to ...
add to the visual component of what you're trying to sell, right? So you've got this imagery, that has a style, that you're selling, but then the business itself also has a logo, it has collateral, it has a studio look, it has a product line that has a look and feel to it. There's all this other visual elements, that kind of style wraps into. Do you see that? But then a brand also has a personality. So your business brand, has a personality associated with it. Are you comfortable? Are you modern and edgy? Are you techy? Are you soft and sweet? Are you vivacious and fun? Are you warm and friendly? Or oh, hip cool? You have a personality, just like human beings when we date, find our soulmate. Your soulmate had a personality that you were attracted to, right? Different from everyone else's. Businesses do, too. Because we are artists, so much of our own personality is ingrained into our brand. But if you think about the major companies in the world, like, I don't know, anything, Amazon. Okay. They have a personality, right? A much different personality than Walmart online. Right? They're both online companies that sell a lot of stuff. But they're different personalities. Right? And so much of their personality is ingrained in the visual components of what they do, the products they sell, the price they position themselves at, right? But then the others, so we've got style, that's kind of melded in with the visual components of your brand. We have the business personality that's part of your brand. Then we have the moral promise. What do you promise your customers? What do you believe in? That whole concept of, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it, from Simon Senec. And how you do it simply proves what you believe. So that's your moral promise. So the brand is much bigger than style as a whole. But style is infused into the brand. That make sense?
Now, from there, your brand is part of the internal components of your business. Right here, this is my business, this whole table. Pretty, big circle. We've got price, products, we've got customer service. We've got our collateral, we got all these things on this circle, right? The component that make up our business. Our brand. Then we have, kind of you know, like, what we need to know about the outside world, in order to fully grasp what's happening in our business. So, what's my market like? I need to look and see what kinda people are in here. Who's my ideal client? What do I want this here, to attract out there? Right. How am I gonna define that, and make this, the perfect match for that? Then I wanna talk about my brand, and get everything kind of all pretty in a pre-package, for that person out there to wanna hire. Okay? I need to look at my competition over here. Here's Sally Sue, what's she doing? Uh, similar. But she's really weak in area, oh I can kick her ass there. Now, I'd better work on that, she's really good at that. Okay? We're different, we're the same, how are we different, how're we the same? Where are they falling short? How can I fix that to be better to that client, out there? So once then, it's all about planning, okay. How do I plan this business to make it financially viable? To bring in the right price per client? To grow over years? To hire employees, customer service plan. How am I gonna plan? Then once I have this pretty table all in the pieces that I want, I know what's happening out there, and who I wanna target. Then all of a sudden, the last component is going, "Okay, now I have my messaging, "let's attract these people in." Let's bring that ideal client and say to her, "I'm gonna solve your problem. "I'm gonna make you want me." So now, we have to market and message to those people. That person, that ideal client. Okay? If this is falling apart. I was almost gonna drop that, and I realized, oh it might break, don't do that. And I was gonna drop this, and I went, "No, it might still, don't do that." So if all this is falling apart, how on earth, can I attract her, effectively? Does that make sense? I hope I just totally answered way longer than it needed to be. But I hope that helps you see how style infuses into the visual components of your brand. The brand is bigger than the style itself. But the marketing efforts cannot be fruitful and successful unless all of that is contained into a business that looks, feels and attracts, correctly.
Thank you Julia.
I love business.
Do you. It's the chicken of the egg.
And so, thank you for spelling that out. Because I think we all throw those same terms around. Marketing, brand, style, without really knowing, which needs to come first, and what influences the other.
That is the number one question I get is, "Where do I start?"
What do I do first? So important.
Yes, and that's what we're here for. Alright, any in the studio audience? I'll go back to the folks online, because a lot of people wanted to ask you to go a little bit further into earlier in the segments, I asked you about how do you know if you're a professional? Or should you charge, if you haven't defined your style yet? So could you go a little bit further in saying, so how does one know, if their work is proficient? And other than getting credentials, is there a way to know, if you have technically, and artistically ready to charge, 'cause of course, that this is a big topic.
It's a huge topic, and I totally understand why people struggle with it. I struggled with it. It's. So I don't wanna trivialize that at all. As a matter of fact, I wanna do the exact opposite, it is a very serious topic, and one that you should take seriously, when you're beginning. And the hard part is that, again, it's asking you to a 40 thousand foot look at yourself, when you don't even know if you're doing it right. So it's sitting here in this ignorance going. Should I charge? Am I good enough to charge? How do I know I'm good enough to charge? And. Its. Not a. It's not a question that's a yes or no question. Yes you're good, no you're not. It's a very gray area. And I think that's what's so frustrating about it. I mean, those of you who are doing it, and are charging for your work, do you remember being in this space? Do you remember being like, "Am I "on the right track? "Should I rethink this?" And yeah, it's scary, isn't it? And the industry as a whole wants to beat the snot outta you, pretty much and "Don't charge unless you're ready." "Don't charge unless--" I mean, we hear that constantly. And so, yours begins to take on that language and it's deafening, sometimes. What I suggest to my students, is to and I'm so excited we're doing this class because I think later today, especially in the second segment, when we start talking about body of work, you're gonna understand how to pick out your work. And I always suggest taking a body of work, and showing it to somebody who knows what the heck they're doing. Don't put it online to willy nilly. Send it somebody you trust. Who, and it may a take a while, 'cause I know people send work to me, and sometimes it's six months before I can get to it. But send a body of work, and it's okay to put it in a group or online, if you know it's a reputable group, and there's good people. Ya know who you need to listen to and who you don't. So just be aware that not everybody knows what they're doing. And if somebody gives you a good comment on your work, or a bad comment, go look at their work, and compare, and ask yourself if they know what they're talking about. But your peers are the people who are gonna be able to tell you, you need to work on this, this and this. But you also need to be able to show them a body of work that exemplifies your technical skill, at the time. Okay. The the reason I mention the CPP Process, is because they have this system down a T, where they make you do certain things. They wanna know, do you know short light, broad light. Do you know, sharpness, and focus and boca? Do you know high key? Do you know low key? Do you know-- They wanna know if you understand certain basic technical components of photography that every professional photographer should know. If you don't know what short light is, you better learn it. 'Cause that is a common thing that photographers through the centuries, know and study. Same with artists. They might call it different things. But you better know and be intentionally lighting for specific lighting patterns. Butterfly, clamshell, hatchet. You know, short light, broad light, flat light, what are these terminology, and you can define them, and you create it? Can you do it? So, if you can produce a body of work that shows technical proficiency in these areas, then you know, in areas that you wanna be a specialist in, then, and somebody says to you, "Yeah, you're nailing it." The other thing that only you can answer is, "Can I get this in any situation?" Okay, great. I can go into a studio and shoot short light, with a strobe, sharp, at the right F-stop, it's right exposure, yay me. Okay. But can I do it with any subject? Can I do with situation I'm thrown into? Can I do it with a different lens? Can I do it with a different camera? Can I do it with a different set of lights? Can I do it with different reflectors? Can I get the same result with different equipment? You see what I'm saying? When I'm under pressure, when things go wrong, can I still get an image? Consistently? And am I getting two images that are good per session? Or am I getting 80 or 90 and I have to weed it out. That's a great indicator. If you're shooting a session. And you look at it, and you're like, "eh, I really can only show like eight or 10 of these "to the client." That's not good. That's not good. You need to know that every single session you go into, you can produce a gallery of images that are all technically proficient, they're all beautiful, they're all different, and they're all what the client wants. Now, I am, pretty masterful of that at newborns. You give me a highschool senior. Ah. I don't know what to do. Like, I am very proficient in my area of expertise. I want to be proficient in families, and I'm moving in that direction, so I'm refining my style, and growing my technical skills, does that make sense? But I don't really have any interest in seniors or architecture. So I'm not gonna become good at it. Can I shoot it? Yeah. Do you know what I'm saying? So I want you to, you don't have to be an expert in everything. You have to do what you love, I mean, Stanka Cordic does portraits of mainly women and children. Okay. With her painting style, I don't know, I haven't asked her, but-- Well, I did actually. I asked her, and she's always single subject. I asked her if she would incorporate my husband, into the image with Dean, and she said, "No. "I don't do that." She knew, and I don't know if it was technically, or she just didn't like doing it, I doubt it was technical, she's brilliant but, I don't know why said that to me, but for some reason she know her specialty, she knows what she does. And she's like, "No, I do single subjects only." So I was like, "Okay, great. "Sure, here's money, do it." Because I loved her work that much. It wasn't a deal breaker for me. So know your area of expertise and become very good at that, it doesn't mean you have to be good at everything is what I'm saying. Granted, if I had a senior come in, could I shoot them and do a technically good image? Yes, of course. But it's something I wanna keep doing over, and over and over again, so therefore I know, that seniors aren't necessarily my style. Does that resonate? Did that follow? Did that answer the question deeper, I guess is what I'm asking?
Let's move onto homework.
Homework, okay. I want you to think about the style cycle and assess where you are in the process. Everyone of you will be in a different place. Okay. I then want you to list and write down what technical skills you need to experiment with, to discover your style. Where are you weak technically in your work? So homework tonight, where are you weak? Is every image sharp? Are you strong in your use of color? Do you know if you're strong in your use of color? Composition. Are you willy nilly? Or do you have very purposeful. Very purposeful ways in which you use composition? Lighting. Are you weak in lighting? It's a huge one, all photographers need to understand light. Artists, actually have to understand light. Doesn't matter if you're a sculptor or a painter, a graphic designer, anything. How is light going to hit the visual representation of what you're creating?