Who am I? How to Create an Authentic Brand.

March 10, 2015 in For Photographers

Today I wanted to share a bit about my 8 month long rebrand adventure. My journey included self-doubt, soul searching, and lots of helping hands.  My hope is that this blog post will help other photographers who are in the blissful yet frustrating process of a rebrand. I felt that my brand came down to one big scary question: “Who am I?”.  Before you become overwhelmed because you can’t answer that question in a few sentences, let’s go through some baby steps.

-Where do I start?

Wait until the right season of your business adventure. I am glad that I rebranded after I was already a few years into the wedding photography game. This allowed me to explore myself as a portrait artist. It wasn’t until I felt I had found my signature photographic style that I decided to rebrand.

-How do you find your style?

Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. I tried various shooting techniques and played around with my post processing. When I upgraded to a full frame camera,  the second lens I purchased after a 50mm was a manual focus tilt-shift lens. I had experimented with free-lensing and knew that playing with planes of focus was a key aesthetic component to my photographic style. It is helpful to try to detect trends in your work. An exercise I learned from Ben Sasso on Creative Live is to pick your top 10 all time favorite images! Look at what those images have in common. How did you compose the photographs?  How did you light your subjects? What tones are present?

For example, here are my top 10:

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Maryland Wedding Photographer Eastern Shore Wedding Photographer Fine art wedding Photographer baltimore wedding photographer kate ann photography-137

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Engagement Portfolio-4

Ellicott City Engagement Session Maryland Fine Art Wedding Photographer Kate Ann Photography

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Baltimore Maryland fine art wedding photographer annapolis washington dc eastern shore rustic earthy weddings -57

In my top 10 I can see that I LOVE golden light and warm tones. Many of my favorite shots are candid moments or posed images that mimic a photojournalism style. I rarely have my subject looking directly at the camera. I like clean compositions and playing with negative space. I like softer highlights and slightly faded blacks.

-Now that you have a better understanding of your aesthetic, how do you translate that into a logo and website?

Make a mood board! Get on Pinterest and pin things that you feel visual fits the vibe of your brand. Do your research! Look at other photographer’s websites whose work is similar to your own and get inspired! You want to make sure that your visual branding is unique and does not mimic anyone else. I spent days taking notes about other creative’s websites. Come up with a logo idea and communicate that to a graphic designer. I desired my logo to be personal and mimic the warm earthy tones used in my images. Therefore, I went with a  logo that was a silhouette of my face filled with a warm tree texture. My logo also reflects the double exposures in my portfolio. My logo idea was very specific but if you are still feeling a bit lost, turn to your designer for more direction. I needed a website to match my logo! Hiring the right creative is essential to building a beautiful brand. Krista Jones interpreted my logo and body of work into a stunning website. She made the website organic, earthy, and modern, which is a perfect reflection of my style.

-My logo and website reflects my body of work so I’m done right?

Your brand should be a reflection of your whole client experience and not just your work. From the visual perspective of my brand, a client can interpret that my images are earthy and might involve an outdoor adventure. However, it does not communicate that I am a goofy extrovert who loves fashion and hot tea. My social media presences can communicate things about my client experience that the look and feel of my brand can not. I strive to be professionally authentic in my social media posts. This is definitely a challenge and is something I am constantly improving on. I want to capture authentic moments so I must be authentic myself. If I want to enter into someone’s life for a day I must let them into my own.

-Who am I?

You must define which components of your brand are consistent, and what is flexible. We are never the exact same person two days in a row. Therefore your brand must have wiggle room for growth. I will always love the great outdoors, have a fun goofy attitude and chase the golden light. If tomorrow I want to try a rad night shot or start getting close to subjects with a 24mm lens, then I can! My compositions and processing will still be similar despite these new shooting techniques. The images will still have a Kate Ann aesthetic and flow with my brand. We need to produce consistent yet evolving work. The same as we need to improve on our own personal foundation day to day!

 

 

 

 

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LOVE this post, Kate!! This is such good post for people entering into the branding process! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!!

I love this post… Kate – This is incredible! So glad to see it on the blog!

you are just the coolest. i love how genuine your brandning and aesthetic is to you as an individual. YOU ROCKKK

I’m doing some rebranding to and this post was so helpful!! Love love love your photo choices… seems impossible to choose a top 10!

I love this post Kate! So great to see how your rebranding process went!