When I first started out, I was the photographer who didn’t think before clicking. I was usually pretty nervous working with clients during a shoot, and rapid fire just seemed like the easy way out. Months went by! I kept my trigger-finger pretty busy and soon enough I had amassed an incredible volume of images. It wasn’t until I stopped one day to evaluate my own work that I realized how random and unoriginal my photography truly appeared. There was little consistency in terms of style, and my work really didn’t seem any different compared to the photographer next door. Something had to change!
I immediately began to dissect my images after every shoot. Over time, I became much more critical of my work; asking myself questions like:
- Which images was I really proud of? Why?
- Among these images, what seemed to work? Was it the location, posing, lighting?
- Would it be possible to recreate these favorable attributes again? If so, how?
- What was it about my favorite images that felt unique?
- What did I want others to feel when they looked at my photography?
When I answered these questions, I realized I truly loved creating images that showcased a sense of fun, natural excitement and stylishness. I wanted people to feel a gist of whimsy and “in-the-momentness” when they saw my work. When I started to identify some of these key words that described my photography, that’s when I knew I was onto something!
It’s a little embarrassing, but it’s important to learn from the mistakes as well as the analysis and the development that took place after (before I got anywhere close to creating images that were reflective of a consistent brand). It took time and diligence for me to figure out exactly how I wanted to communicate the identity of my photos to the world, and it wasn’t until I started to become intentional about the whole process that I started to see things fall into place.
Your Photos and Your Brand: So What’s the Connection?
In the simplest of terms, your photographic brand is how you want people to identify and feel about your photography. As visual artists, our imagery is one of the most powerful ways we can create distinction for our brand. So ask yourself: How do I want others to feel when they look at my photos? Do I want them to feel romantic, spontaneous, sassy, funny? How does that feeling tie into how I want them to feel about my overall approach to my photography business?
Make a list of descriptive words that you would want your audience to connect with. What you’ll start to notice over time is that you, your photographs and the audience that appreciates your work will all share similar characteristics surrounding those initial descriptive words that you chose.
Chemistry with Your Clients
Creating images that are reflective of your brand starts with YOU. Your ability to connect with the client is the first step in infusing your personality into your photos. As a wedding photographer, most of my couples haven’t had extensive practice being in front of the camera. Most couples are anxious about being photographed, and it’s my job to put them at ease. Through conversation (and my bad jokes), I find a way to relax my clients so they aren’t as fixated on being photographed; rather we’re creating a unique chemistry so they’re actually enjoying the overall experience. Again, I want this experience to tie back to those initial descriptive words… such as fun, exciting and stylish. The experience and the chemistry I create with clients completely ties into the resulting imagery, thus adding another layer of glue between my photos and my brand.
Consistency, Predictability & Style
Once you’ve identified how your personality is infused into your images, how you want people to feel when they see you work and how to go about achieving desired results; the key is to continue on that path with consistency. To a certain degree, your approach should almost be formulaic (to a degree). Clients perceive your brand based on what you show them today; and in the case of a wedding client, your bride and groom want to rest assured that you’ll be able to recreate similar images for them when it comes time for the wedding. And unless you’re approaching each shoot with a certain level of consistency, it’s difficult to assure your client of what may happen in the future. Consistency and predictability are key to building a strong, long-term brand.
As independent photographers and business owners, it’s our job to be the boss and the critic. If I hadn’t decided to be a little tough on myself and answer some of those hard questions during the initial months of my business, my business and brand wouldn’t be nearly as grounded as it is today. So be bold, be brave and build a brand that showcases the best you can be!
About Binita Patel
Binita Patel is a Boston-based wedding photographer specializing in weddings for fun & stylish couples. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance, as well as an MBA in Marketing. Binita is passionate about sharing her love for photography and business knowledge with photographers across the country.