Your Brand and Style
Section number one, branding and marketing, aren't those shoes great, look at those, those are good, all the guys are like what, why, why are you talking about them. All the guys, if you are not familiar with this brand, get familiar with it because if you're doing weddings you should know who Manolo Blahnik is, little things like that are actually important to your wedding clients. Therefore, they are now important to you, right. I didn't know who that, when I was charging $ for a wedding, I had no clue, I was like oh look they're pink shoes, okay. But these kinds of things are important to a lot of brides. So let's talk about the brand, I mentioned this before, consumers are so savvy to what a brand is. Because we have so much visual media around us, whether it's social media or just the fact that we are always glued to a screen of some kind. Consumers understand visual brands. So it has to be stable, your photography brand has to be stable in order for your potential clients to trus...
t what you are selling. 'Cause you're selling trust, especially in weddings. They are trusting you with this once in a life moment with no do-overs, no redos, you have to get them to trust you, trust your skill, trust your character, trust your ability, everything, they have to trust you. I love this quote from a book called Scale, if you are a wedding photographer that wants to have a volume business, get this book by Jeff Hoffman called Scale. It teaches you how to exponentially grow your business, wonderful book but I love this quote and his definition of a brand. He say's "Your brand is the emotional associations and gut level sense of how your company, product or service is intuitively perceived by your market." Do you know what I love most about that? There is actually nothing tangible in that sentence, none of it, all of it is based on feeling. All of it is based on perception, it's based on almost nothing of fact right, nothing tangible, tangible's the word I like to use for it. We have to create some kind of connection between our client's emotion, how they feel about our company and our company, our photography, our brand. It's intuitive, notice he said "it's intuitively perceived," I told you that a lot of consumers today, they're almost subconsciously brand experts. It's an intuition, they don't know why when they look on someone's Instagram or Facebook why they trust that company or why they like it 'cause they don't know branding, they just know if they do or if they don't. We want to make sure that your branding is consistent across the board. A lot of places that people go to look at your branding. Number one, your website, if nothing else your website needs to be mobile friendly, consistent and clean, and easy to navigate. Now mobile friendly, this is the most important thing right now. Google is changing the way they do their analytics and you have to have a mobile friendly website now, it's more important than your desktop site. You obviously want it to be consistent and clean, everything is easy to find, you are easy to contact. All right, that's almost kinda without saying, that first part there because we've been working on websites for years now. Past that, your packaging, so you want to make sure that you are giving, oh let me walk around this way, we're gonna make sure that you're giving your clients beautiful pieces like this right. But in addition to the beautiful pieces, we wanna make sure that packaging works. When I first gave my clients albums, I didn't give them boxes or I gave them boxes but the company I was using was just ich. This is actually the standard box that comes with Miller's albums and I give this to my clients all the time. You can buy branded and I do this as well. You can buy branded boxes, so a lot of times I will upgrade my clients and they'll get a beautiful wooden box. This is just the standard one and obviously it comes with some of the fluff in there. But if you're going to give your client something, go over the top, make it like a gift, while this is great and then of course they're upgraded ones are great, you put your logo on it, I have ribbon that I tie around it that has my logo on it. It goes into a box and I want to have my logo on, really everywhere, I would love to buy a million types of boxes and have my logo all over all these white beautiful boxes but my husband might kill me 'cause we work out of our home and if I have just boxes of photography all over the place, he's just gonna throw me out, he's like you have to get a studio, you need to leave (laughing). So wrap everything like a gift because that's really important, that's really valuable to your clients. When they get that they want to feel like it's a gift. They want to be excited to open it and you want them to be. Because if they're excited to open it, what are they gonna do? They're gonna post about it on their social media and that is exactly what you want them to do right. So logo everywhere, consistent colors, things like that. Even that first one, we've been working on that one for a while too so that's kind of a given, we know these things. Now social media, this is extremely crucial to your business these days. Do you know that your clients go to your social media, sometimes not to actually look at your work but to judge you. To decide if you are a credible business or if you're just a complete hack, right. Because while you could send them to your website, and your website looks good, or maybe you have a wedding wire account and that looks good, if you go to a social media platform that really shows where you are and what your clients think about you. There's a lot that social media tells the consumers about a company. So you want to exist on all the platforms. For weddings, for wedding photography the top three I would tell you in this order would be Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook so those three are your top three. That's where your clients are and that's where they are the most, those are all visual mediums by the way. So yay for you because that's what we do, we're photographers we have visual stuff, that's good. We want to make sure that we engage on all of them. I'm gonna go into a whole social media session for you guys so that won't be a problem. Then be active, I'm not telling you that this should be all consuming you are not social media experts, this is not your job. Your job is a photographer right, so I'm going to give you tricks on this later to make it easy, to make it simple, to make it fast. But you need to have it stable and actively working. Now the bottom one, this one is a fun one that most people don't think about, this is the personnel. So when my clients come in, they've gotten a little bit more savvy lately they ask me about my second shooters. And I happily tell them oh my second shooters, they've been with me for years, I train them so that they have the quality of photography I have, the style of photography, you don't know who took what picture. But even more importantly they have similar personalities because the day of the wedding, the last thing you want is some snot bucket around you all day long, you don't want somebody who's grumpy or you don't want somebody that's just putting you on edge, you want someone that is going to benefit your wedding day not take away from it. There was a second shooter that I was looking to hire. I do this with all of my second shooters, I'll interview them, make sure they're not crazy, make sure they understand why they need to look at their stuff. But my interview with them, I make them come on a wedding with me. Why, because then I know what they produce in circumstances that I was also in, so they come on a wedding and I observe them, I look at their pictures later but mostly I'm watching what they're doing. I had this one guy and his work was phenomenal, such great stuff really was gonna like up the bar, raise the bar on my portfolio of what I was giving my clients and I'm looking at him work and he's just, he's there, he's intense and he's up and he's down and he's mmmm and just like this face and I'm like dude you're scaring people, like you can't, you gotta smile, you have, it's a wedding, it's not a funeral. It is not a SWAT team mission, you are at a wedding. So I told him this, he's like okay I got it, like give me another chance, I'm like fine but I'm sure you'll get it. He did not get it. He didn't and ultimately I could not hire this guy that I loved, I loved his photography, don't you think your clients do the same thing. They love your photography but your personality or maybe you have an office manager and personality of that office manager just isn't cuttin' it and they decide not to go with you. Really important and then of course your equipment. Now I'm not gonna tell you what equipment to shoot with because truthfully you can have an iPhone and shoot great stuff. However, there is 100% a connection between how consumers look at you with your equipment and how they value what you do. I take on third shooters also, people that just want experience, they want to eventually be a second shooter but they're still learning, I'll take them on, I'll help them then they come along and they bring their own gear if they shoot Canon, I let them use my lenses 'cause they all swap. So I had someone come along and he had a very small Canon camera at the time, I think it was one of the original Rebels and he puts my 70 to 200 2.8 on it. So it's just like this monster lens and this little baby camera at the end and the guests were making fun of him and playfully not mean but they're like oh my gosh look at his little camera, you know compared to whatever it was that I was shooting with that day. They notice and they attribute value to it. And those of you that shoot mirrorless, I'm not picking on you by the way, but those of you who shoot mirrorless cameras may have seen this. Meanwhile mirrorless cameras are incredible, they're beautiful, they make better images sometimes than the DSLRs but it's really interesting the connection between how you present yourself even down to the gear that you use, they think bigger is better. When meanwhile, videographers use iPhones and can get great stuff maybe they're even just using the iPhone as a screen as a camera that you can use. And the iPhone again is just a screen, it's not the actual camera all right but there is a connection so just be conscious of all the different things that your clients are observing. Now I could go into branding a lot a lot more I'm gonna give you your first freebie because I wrote an ebook about branding so it's called Nine Secret Ways to Brand Your Business. You can grab that at breatheyourpassion.com, you'll see that exact picture right there and you just have to give me your first born child in order to get it, no I'm just kidding. (laughing) You just have to throw your email address so I can email it to you and then grab that so that's one of your freebies, there's lots of freebies in this course by the way so, that is one of them that you can grab right there. So let's talk about your photographic style. Now I will preface this, it's gonna take a little while to develop your photographic style, it's not something you're like okay I really love this style now let me just go photograph like that. Meh, not so much if it were that easy, we wouldn't be having wedding photography week here right. So finding your photographic style will take time and then it's going to evolve, it's going to change, you'd look at my work from five years ago first of all you'll cringe, I do. It's a little bit different, actually if you go back to CreativeLive when I was on here like five years ago, look at my work. It's a little bit different, all right so you will find a style and it will change. My only caveat here is let it change, right it should, your skill is gonna grow but try not to be very trendy with it. Because you want something that's gonna last over time and I only say this because this is something I failed at. I don't have the picture here but there's this one picture that I kind of keep around, I keep not deleting it from the archives 'cause it's a good reminder for me. Where I did a black and white photo and then colored it like blue, it is just you look at it and you're like what, why, what color is that, why but it was a fad at the time, it was like called cross processing the way I did it after the black and white conversion. I really don't know but it's a good reminder for me to understand that my style will change. Let's not really heavily dive into any fad because this is weddings, you want this to be timeless works of art. So things for you to think about. Think about the kind of photography that you are attracted to, when you look at all these photographers here on CreativeLive what are the styles that you're most drawn to. And then what kind of photography are your clients attracted to. Your ideal clients what are they attracted to, you know if they look at your work, what is it about your work that they love? That's another question you can ask them, I tend to ask my clients that, what is it about my work that attracted you to it. You know it's good to get their perspective because for them, they don't know the difference between good and great photography, they just don't, however, there is a reason that they think certain photos are good, certain photographers are good and other ones aren't. So ask them, and then think about what are you inherently good at as a photographer. Are you really good at off camera flash, are you really good at that natural light look, what can you develop past that, what do you have an eye for. That will all help you develop your photographic style. From here I do have another freebie book, this one is A Photographer's Guide to Second Shooting, and it does talk a little bit about style so you guys can grab that, it's still the same breathe your passion website but you have to do forward slash shoot right there. Now if you're not a second photographer, this is really great for you to just download and hand to your second photographer. 'Cause I go over things like don't hand out your business cards at a wedding, no no, you wouldn't believe how many people think that's okay, well we all start somewhere right. So even if you're not a second shooter, this is a really great ebook for you to have on hand to pass out, by all means do that go ahead.