A little longer than the speed of light
A friend recently asked me about how I found my brand image and photography style.
That question seems to always pop up once in a while in my photography circle and it's a somewhat difficult question to answer because everyone has different views on art, branding and working as an entrepreneur.
When I started out in photography, I tried to shoot every single day. Even if it was a small flower on my kitchen table, or if I went out on big adventures. It was important for me to shoot as much as I could to learn about the light, and photography techniques. Artists are all different, and we all have a different perspective on life, but one thing we need to all know is the technical part of the business. I read a lot of books and self taught myself, to eventually go to school in a commercial photography program. I am not saying every photographer needs to go to school to learn about the profession, but to me it was a vital part on my photography career. I wanted to learn about the technical features of studio work, lighting, basics in business etc.
Once the technical part was mostly covered (trust me, I am still learning to this day), I started organizing creatives.
Creatives are personal photoshoots photographers create to practice on their style. You start with a vision of an idea you would like to create, for example: I want to shoot a girl in a canoe.
Once my idea is written down, I start brainstorming on what the scenery would look like, what the girl would look like physically and mentally. What she would be wearing etc. I move my brainstorming to create a vision board. (I use Pinterest)
Then it all comes down to finding the people to complete your team, makeup artist, stylist, model, all the equipment necessary and finding the location of course.
And then you find yourself in the middle of a lake, photographing your vision who is coming to life.
When you take the time to create personal projects like that, you are not only practicing the art of photography, but you are also discovering your style as an artist. You test different lighting or editing techniques and the more you do, the more your style starts to become your image.
People will recognize your photos without knowing you took it. And that is how I found my own photography style. Don't expect it to come at the speed of light, finding your style can take a long time before you develop it. It took me about 2 and a half years.
Branding is another world.
For branding, I believe you need to balance the artist and the entrepreneur that you are becoming. It's about showcasing your work on a marketing level.
I am still learning about it every single minute and one thing that definitely helps me a lot is following entrepreneurs that I love.
There are so many talented humans out there that our living their passions and why not have them as mentors or inspirations?
I have a long list of entrepreneurs that I follow and admire for their hard work and dedication and they always seem to amaze me with their new projects, collabs and work ethics in general.
Once you have found those humans, see how they work on their branding.
What kind of style do they have?
What clientele are they focused on?
What does their website look like, and what do you like and less like about it?
What kind of content do they publish on social media? And why does it attract you?
These simple questions will help you figure out what you want and don't want in your own branding.
We are so lucky to have tools like social media at our disposal. I love to use their platforms for my business and to reach out to my fans, clients and potential clients. Although it is quite easy to get transported into the fake world of online platforms, it's important to stay authentic to yourself.
You might not get 10 million followers right away like that girl who takes sexy selfies all the time, but you have passion, talent and most importantly, you are authentic. It's the kind of process that will take time, but one thing you must always remember: Quality over quantity. The fan base you will create, will be people who love your work, and follow you because they love and believe in you. I would rather have a thousand followers who actually read and feel inspired by my work then a million followers who don't actually read or know what I do.
Eventually, with a lot of hard work and passion you will reach that million, but it will be a quality million.
So like I mentioned a few times before, it will take a lot of time to develop your style and brand. The pyramids didn't just pop out of nowhere (some think they might have) it took time, passion and dedication. Those things are massive, imagine how stoked Egyptians were when they saw the finished product?
Every empire starts from scratch and takes time to grow, so give yourself time. And please ask questions if you need too, I believe it's the best way to push ourselves in this industry. We are all so honored and happy to answer them.
So to complete this long article (I am sorry dudes) here is a list of my favorite inspirations. I follow these companies, or humans close to my heart and they inspire me to keep pushing my own brand every day:
-Erika Drolet from Salty Souls
-Chris Burkard Photography
-Seb and Myriam from Archive
-Mitch from September surf (and the whole Shaper Studio crew)
-Kyler Vos (surf photographer and editor of SBC surf)
-Sophie Lachance (editor at Ouisurf)
-Antonio Lennert from Surf The Greats
-Bryanna Bradley (surf photographer)
-Chloé Leroux (from STND UP)
The list keeps on going, and if I could, this list would be infinite so thank you all for your support and please keep inspiring. We all need you.