Today, we’ve got something special for you. We have already covered a few topics of creating your own, personal brand as a photographer, so it’s time to show you some inspirational stories from our favorite photographers. We have asked a few of them about the beginnings of their work, how they coped with various things. The answers differ one from another, because our questions varied as well. We also respect the photographers and understand that sometimes they don’t have much time, or just lack the inspiration 😉 Here comes:
- Marion Payen
- Christy Dean
- Heather Gallagher
- Daniel Silfver
- Chloe Aftel
- Crystal Stokes
- Charles Freger
Check out their stories about their brand names, logos, websites, finding audiences and so on!
Marion is one of Photler users and she really became a part of our “family”. With her enthusiastic approach and a great willingness to help, we managed to build a strong relationship. Working with such an energetic person, who’s also always happy about the upcoming changes on Photler is really a great pleasure.
Marion and her team have a blog for travelers called “Hibiscus & Nomada”. We quickly noticed hibiscus is one of her tattoos (check it out on her Instagram, it’s on her side – big, colorful and beautiful!), but we still wondered why did she choose this exotic flower and combined it with the ‘nomada’ word (it’s Spanish for “nomad”, who is a traveler without a permanent home, with whom she identifies herself). Marion explains:
I found this name to represent what I want to show on my website. It is not a travel blog about me but a travel guide for others so Hibiscus is the exotic part of the travel I thought people could identify themselves if they were familiar to tropical countries.
From the very beginning, when the blog was named Digital Backpacker Travel Guide, Marion clearly understood that social media are the best way to reach to her potential followers. She focused on Instagram and found the fans there. She still uses it to search for people who comment inspirational accounts, as her ideal potential follower is a young traveler between 20 and 35 years old who took a gap year or holidays to see the world, or are living their passion as digital nomads.
When we asked about her biggest surprise and biggest struggle of engagement building, Marion was really honest:
My biggest surprise was how engaged my audience got in such a short period of time! I am already at 7k followers (and it’s still growing!) and only started it end of June! I am happily surprised to see that most of my audience is loyal and will keep supporting me throughout the pictures and different countries I share pictures of. Struggle I guess is to reach out to all the followers you wish to… Instagram has got so many millions of users that in one second you can get lost within millions of same hashtag or similar pic from similar accounts. It is hard to stand out and build your name when the competition is high. But it’s a fun game to play!
And we have to admit we really love her photos from all over the world. Marion also shared a very useful tip – never use third party apps for liking other accounts or hashtags or images. After she tried it, her account was reported for spam and blocked for a few weeks. Saving time is not always a good idea, as you can see it’s better to build engagement by yourself even though it takes some time.
We also think that this awesome photo exactly shows the lovely personality of Marion:
Christy is a commercial photographer from Edmonton, Alberta. Her fields of interest are editorial portraits and music photography. Her website really caught our eyes not only because of the amazing photos, but also her beautifully designed logo. As she told us, the logo and identity was created by Amanda Schutz from Curio Design, formerly Woodward Design.
She confesses that keeping her website up-to-date is a real struggle for her. We have to agree – spending 2 days to arrange her Squarespace page must be really frustrating, especially having two kids! Christy says:
Simple is always best but as I do so many different types of photography now I would prefer something that would show only the top 30 images I’ve done and not have to rely on categories or ‘portfolio I, portfolio II’ etc. With too many categories it gets complicated and I don’t want to confuse anyone coming to the page.
So here comes a great tip from Christy: don’t confuse your website’s viewers. The photographer gained her experience working first as an assistant, then taking some smaller jobs, to working as a part of a studio. She admits that it helped her learn how to talk with various people she met:
It’s one thing to shoot and another thing to communicate with the client to find out what they need, then communicate that with the model while keeping everything lively and fun when required or fast and furious, or slow and intimate in the case of some more emotional editorials involving human stories. On top of that, your technical skills have to work as there is never enough time to fix it in Photoshop.
That last sentence should hang above every photographer’s bed!
Christy admits that giving birth to her child put her strongly on the ground. People can work their asses off to earn as much money they can, but she decided to set her priorities on her daughter and start off with her own business. With all her experience and connections in the industry, she now manages to run her business and take care of her daughters (with the help of her husband). Which is possibly a goal for a lot of young women in photography industry.
Heather is based in Austin, Texas, birth, family and event photographer, but she’s also willing to travel the world to take some pics. We really love her brand logo which was made with the help of 99 designs and consists of her own handwriting. That’s what we call an original typeface!
Then we talked some business:
I’ve been professionally shooting since 2003 and word of mouth has been my biggest source of business. (…) In 2009, I finally decided to go for it and subscribed to a full service company catered to Photographers called Into the Darkroom. It’s been a lifesaver and really wonderful for my business as my website, blog, online store and other client facing services are all under their “roof” and it’s extremely user friendly for both me and my clients. Since then, I’ve had more confidence in my online presence and everything started to fall into place – hiring a designer to create my logo, defining my brand and identifying who my clients are. Word of mouth is still very powerful and social media has definitely helped to reach a wider audience.
Heather’s ideal audience consists of relatable people. She enjoys working with people who value real life moments and feelings, as her own life is full of it being a mum and photographer. Heather also highlights that her online growth is almost always organic, amusingly admitting that she doesn’t know how to look for followers (don’t worry, we’ll cover that on our article-journey of building your own brand). So her biggest struggle was to figure out Facebook and Instagram algorithms for feeds. But her goal is not to gain clients thru social media, it’s to be social thru media, and we totally love her approach.
She also shared some great tips for all photographers, which can come handy for everyone in life:
Most clients don’t read the contract. It is very important to have a conversation before any session where you define expectations from both sides. Lots of clients like to throw around the words “Photoshop and retouch” very casually so be clear in writing and verbally about your post production process, payment schedules and image usage terms. Don’t discount your prices because you’re scared of losing/not gaining business, it perpetuates the thought that photography is a commodity. Respond to every inquiry in a timely manner. In general, treat people how you’d like to be treated.
Daniel is a photographer from Sweden who owns The Silfver Creations. Its logotype is absolutely awesome (we have to add it to our list of most outstanding photos in photography industry!) and was designed by Breno Bitencourt, a professional logo designer from Brazil.
He told us that his adventure with photography and blogging started 16 years ago, so he’s been in the business for quite a long time now. His photography career started in Jönköping’s local newspaper, where he learned what it’s like meeting and taking photos of random people. Daniel really appreciates this experience and shouts out:
Give more space to young people in the media!
The photographer admits he has never focused on finding new followers or gaining traffic. He says:
I have been creating websites since adolescence and that together with photography have rendered a dozen of online photoblogs during the years. I simply do it because I love it. I like sharing honest stuff.
Daniel gave also an awesome tip for all photographers:
Photographer makes the camera, not the other way around.
Chloe is one of the photographers we talked about on one our previous posts – the list of most outstanding photos in photography industry, so we’re extremely happy she (and the next two people here) shared the story of how her brand logo was created. Chloe worked on it with her friend illustrator, Andrea Shear. The logo was made by hand and it took weeks to create it – they made the whole alphabet! See what Andrea says about that:
Chloe and I worked very closely together on this logo and typeface. She wanted something that was sophisticated, unique and hand-made without feeling too messy or over-worked. We met in person at a cafe with a sketchbook and some different brushes and inking pens and developed the qualities that she liked for several letters. Then I was able to take that back to my studio and complete the rest of the letters and digitize them to create the logo. At that point I also created a complete typeface in the same style for her to use on other promotional material. Because she was so involved from the beginning I had a clear idea of what she wanted and there wasn’t too much back-and-forth.
It’s great when two artists get together so well. Check out the awesome logo they created on Chloe’s website.
I was so dead set on finding the perfect font and typeface, having it be simple, slightly feminine yet bold and modern.
And they did it precisely that way, Crystal’s logo is one of the most outstanding ones we’ve seen – make sure you check it out on her website! We really love what Crystal said to Christina, when they started working on it:
Part Audrey Hepburn, part Justin Timberlake, with a hint of Carrie Bradshaw.
And so, Christina did about 700 mockups (!) to find what she was looking for. So when they found it, they knew that was it. Check out the full story on Christina’s blog here!
Charles is the French photographer who you may have also already met on our blog. We put him on the list of most outstanding photos in photography industry, let him know about it and got the most surprising response we could imagine:
This is not really a logo, it’s more a pictogram representing me as bear photographer, in the context of my WILDER MANN series and book. It was made by Genevieve Gauckler for the WILDER MANN book and became really the identity of my work.
We totally fell in love with the bear photographer, so here it comes again. It’s great how something you run into working on some project, stays with you and becomes your identity.
Amazing stories from amazing people and photographers. We hope that you enjoyed them as much as we did and that you found an inspiration for yourself and your brand. It’s always good to be inspired by great people. As Bar Refaeli said: “Have the passion, take the action and magic will happen!”
Come back next week, as we’ll continue with our series of articles about creating your own brand as a photographer. Our next step takes us to the quite complex issue of websites and we’ll talk about how a perfect website for photographer should look like and what it should contain. Sign up for our newsletter so you won’t miss it!