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Branding Your Photography Business

Branding to me is kind of like planning a wedding. Raise your hand if you got married more than 5 years ago – or if you got married before Pinterest hit the scene. I bet that’s most of us (although, in hindsight, I can’t see who’s raising their hands, so I’ll just have to assume). My guess is that if you got married a while ago, there are some things you might pick differently: wedding colors, dress style, decorations, etc. Even though I LOVED how my wedding turned out, there are still things I would’ve loved to try now that I’ve seen ideas on Pinterest, or other friends’ weddings.


Because trends change. Our tastes change. We can even like several different styles simultaneously. How do you find a style you can commit to?

When it came to branding my business, I felt lost. I could look at pre-made logos for HOURS on Etsy and find 50 I liked at any given time. When I finally picked one (that was less than $20) I figured it would work just fine. Not even 3 weeks went by before I discovered THREE other photographers in my area (less than 60,000 people in my city) who had the same font for their logo AND their names also started with “S” as well, so it was painfully obvious. I needed some- thing fun and unique, and I needed it fast!

I decided it was time to bring in an expert! Meet Christine, owner of deluxemodern design & the Miss Modern Logo Shop. Let’s find out what this seasoned pro has to say about branding!  Christine is also offering an exclusive discount to Pretty Preset fans. Use the code "PRETTYMODERN" and enjoy 30% off the entire store from Monday until Thursday at 12:00 am Pacific.

Q: Christine, I bet even when you do laundry it looks pretty. Have you always had an eye for design? Did you go to school or is it just a natural talent?

My laundry is a train wreck! (so busy working, but yay for having help with that boring stuff now).

As for design, I have never attended school or taken any classes. I have always appreciated eye-grabbing design, and try to create things that make me happy. I tend to like clean, feminine, editorial style.

I had never used a computer until I was in my mid 20’s. (man, that makes me sound sooo old). But it’s true. I had to find other ways to express creativity when I was younger, and would play “graphic design studio” in my room when I was a kid. My walls were covered with pages from Vogue and Seventeen magazine. I would re-arrange furniture, paint and decorate my room constantly. I dressed up for school every day (I’m talkin’ heels and trench coats in high school).

I had to entertain myself. I think we need more of that, and less computer time honestly. (My point here is that design does not come from sitting in front of computer all day). You must find constant inspiration in yourself & your surroundings.

Q: Why do you think it’s so important for photographers to have a recognizable brand?

I think it’s important for photographers to have a brand that makes them happy.

Most photographer are a one man show - and by that I mean they are the ones who take the photos, do the marketing, bookkeeping, scheduling - everything.

They are the business.

Their brand must showcase not only their work in the best possible way, but their personality as well. Branding is your chance to show the world who you are, and why they should hire you. If a small business owner loves and is proud of the”face” they put out into the world, they will attract the right customers and have lots of confidence while doing it.

(I have had clients double their income when they were happy with their branding, for real).

Q: Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. When you make custom logos and brand packages for clients, how do you help them figure out what they like?

First thing I have to say about this: stop looking at what everyone else is doing. That will not work, and trying too hard to figure out what you like is the worst thing you can do. Simple is always (always always) best.

The basics: we start with a conversation and a questionnaire, and have clients create pin boards with style ideas. Not just branding ideas - but clothes, interiors, gardens, etc. It’s good to have an overview of the whole person, because I can generally see things with a repeating theme and feel, and then translate that into design.

If a certain style makes you heart skip a beat, then that’s the right direction. I try to steer clients away from what’s trendy at the moment - I want to create something solid that they’ll love for a long time to come.

Q: If you got $500 tomorrow that you could be completely frivolous with, what would you spend it on? New shoes? Make-up? A fancy night on the town? A spa day? What’s your guilty pleasure?

Ah... I LOVE to go out to eat. This is probably because I’m a terrible cook, and forget to eat most of the time. Even though my husband is a Chef, he’s never home to cook! I am a fondue junkie - that’s my absolute favorite (but quite expensive and the closest restaurant is about an hour from me - which is probably a good thing). And I love to shop. I’d say costume jewelry, handbags and anything home decor are my weaknesses. Oh, and books. I could spend all 500.00 on books and magazines. I think I’ve spent that five hundred bucks a couple of times now....

Q: Your site offers so many great products. What items would you recommend for newbies as a “start-up package” besides a logo? What about photographers that have been in business a little while and just need a make-over?

Well, if you are newly in business, you must have a website, a facebook page and business cards. Those are the 3 pieces that are absolutely essential.

Recently on CreativeLIVE, I talked about keeping your brand fresh. If you’re tired of looking at it, you won’t be excited to market yourself. Enter the quick-fix: add some pattern, change the colors, or give your brand a makeunder (too much going on)? simplify!

Or start over with a whole new look from our shop. Seriously, you can have a new brand in a matter of hours. Here are a few of the things we offer:

BLOG SUGAR KIT: a package of design elements all pulled together for you. Use them on your website, blog, facebook to create a seamless look. We have lots!

BRAND IN A BOX: matching marketing materials to our Blog Sugar Kits! All colors, text, and photos can be changed in any of our kits or patterns.

LOGO: Add one of our logos to the kits above for a totally custom look.

Q: When you aren’t working, what’s your favorite way to spend your time?

Lounging by a pool in Palm Springs with a cocktail server nearby. Then out to dinner & dancing after that. (fondue anyone)? 


Shannan Painter is a newbie photographer who has spent the last 5 years working with the left side of her brain helping small businesses organize their accounting and taxes. She decided to take the big step and pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer in 2013 after adding a third boy to her house that was already full of super heroes, trucks, and sports equipment. She and her husband, who is a local TV meteorologist, play pick-up games of basketball in their free time and like to take road trips to Lake Minnetonka with all 3 boys, and their dog Growler.  Visit her on Facebook!


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