How I Started My Personal Brand Photography Journey (and Why it is Essential to Your Marketing)
I started my photography company in 2005 in a tiny studio efficiency while interning and working in New York City.
At the young age of 13, I knew I wanted to be a professional photographer. It was a decision that was made and I was going to stop at nothing to make it happen. After graduating with a B.F.A. in photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design, I moved up to New York City to intern at Art + Commerce, a fast-paced fashion photography agency that represented such famous artists as Annie Leibovitz and Patrick Demarchelier. (I was totally Anne Hathaway from The Devil Wears Prada!)
While I was immersed in the iconic NYC fashion world, assisting on Italian Vogue shoots, and location scouting for the newest Hugo Boss ad campaign, I found myself wondering how I was going to make a living doing what I love? And knowing that I didn’t want to be a starving artist with 3 jobs trying to make it in New York City, I decided then that I was going to start my own photography company, taking what I learned in the big apple and school, and applying it in my own photographic style. I spent my Friday evenings in Chelsea reading on the floor in the business section of Barnes & Noble soaking in whatever I could learn about starting a business. It was such an amazing time being alone in New York, living out a dream I’ve imagine ever since I was a kid, and solely focused on taking the next step towards making it my full career. Life was good (and so was the Olive Garden unlimited salad, breadsticks, and wine I would enjoy post countless hours in the bookstore.) The world was my oyster and in my head, I was already a business owner.
Now freshly moved back down to Florida, I knew that the Orlando photography market was and is WAY different than that of NYC so I had to make some choices. Realizing that I wasn’t going to be maintaining an income shooting high fashion models or covers for national magazines, I decided to make the high end wedding and portrait market my niche, but where was I to begin?
Being all of 24 years old and fresh out of art school, I knew nothing about starting a business. (Except for all of my time spent at Barnes & Noble of course.) I never took a business class in college or any other course related to such, and let’s remember, this was before Youtube was considered a “viable learning source” for anything and everything.
So I did my due diligence, got my fictitious name, EIN, website domain, and a simply designed business card printed, I was officially in business! But what I didn’t know was how to market myself to set me apart from all the rest of the competition in my industry. Back in 2006, The Knot was the main online source to use their paid advertising platform to attract potential clients. There was no such thing yet as free advertising. Facebook had not come onto the main market yet and surely instagram did not exist. I relied on traditional marketing efforts like networking with local vendors and exhibiting in a bridal show or two. After I gained some traction with several weddings and portraits under my belt, I quickly learned that if I wanted to break into the high end luxury wedding market, I had to brand myself as a high end wedding photographer. And this is where I began my journey of learning and understanding the importance of personal branding.
Examples of my newly designed marketing collateral - Designs by 2uCreative
As soon as I could afford it, I hired a designer to help me create beautiful marketing collateral consisting of high-end brochures, business cards, direct mailers, bridal gifts, you name it to hit every aspect of the experience you get when choosing me as your photographer. In addition to investing in these traditional branding efforts, I also knew that the only thing that was going to set me apart from everyone else was a killer website with strong work and of course…yours truly!
Whether I liked it or not, I had to get in front of the camera. So I hired a videographer to help create a cool film short for my website and a fellow photographer friend capture me “behind-the-scenes” working with clients, and a nice head shot. It was these personal brand visuals combined with delivering beautiful work and a great experience that allowed me to get in front of my target audience, and ultimately putting me on the map.
Fast forward to 2019, enter Instagram.
A social media platform solely based on imagery…and it better be good. With Instagram, any business owner, entrepreneur, and influencer has the ability to market to over 100 million people for free. And let us not forget the power of Pinterest, Email marketing, and Facebook: All Free.
The face of marketing has completely changed. No longer is one competing against the best in their area, they now have to compete with the best in their region, nation, and even the world! And with that, ups the ante when it comes to your social media marketing strategy and brand imagery. Consumers now want to know who they’re buying from, they want to know about the person(s) behind the brand and their story. They want to relate, engage, and grow to trust you before they buy. And I promise you, NO generic stock image is going to do that.
Personal Brand Shoot for Carissa’s The Bakery - East Hampton, NY
Meet Personal Brand Photography
Personal Brand Photography is a newly defined photography niche designed exclusively for entrepreneurs and businesses to connect with their audience through professional photography. But with this new niche comes a bit of quandary. People now have to worry about their followers and if engagement is up or down. The need for a visually strong social media account is now a “thing” and most likely something not in an entrepreneur’s wheelhouse of expertise and probably couldn’t dedicate enough time to it even if it was.
Hiring on a good Personal Brand Photographer is an asset to your business as it will give you high quality imagery to consistently use and post, engaging your audience and showing your conversions. Bottom line: A [good] photograph converts.
Branding shoot for The Joyful Life Mission
What Sets a Personal Brand Photographer Apart from a Traditional Photographer?
A personal brand photographer will take the time to understand your brand and your audience. They’ll use this information to create a set of unique images that will truly reflect your brand and help people feel like they know and trust you. It’s far more than just a beautiful headshot.
They don’t just work off a generic shot-list, they strategically transform your brand into a set of images that connect with and engage your audience.
It’s hard enough to stand apart from the crowd online. If you’re going to take the time and money to invest in personal brand photography, picking a traditional photographer who doesn’t truly understand how to transform your brand into images is a huge mistake. You’ll just blend in with everyone else and it won’t actually strengthen your brand.
If you are an entrepreneur and have more questions about how you can use the Personal Brand Photos I create for you, inquire with me, I’d love to hear from you!