Intro by Skip Cohen
A short time ago I wrote a post about "jump-starting an older business". Well, I ran across this terrific post on the Photodex blog and was given permission to share it with you here. It's all thanks to "Leslie" at Photodex that you're about to read some outstanding ideas to help rebrand your business, but there's one major point you need to remember.
Your brand isn't just your logo - it's the personality, the heart and soul, of your business. At the very core of changing your brand needs to be thoughts about what your brand stands for! I'm turning it over to Leslie, who's about to give you some outstanding food for thought!
Note: Leslie Hargenrader is the Creative Services Manager at Photodex and their lead designer. She's doing some amazing things at Photodex and strongly believes in support of the professional photographic community.
If you’re thinking about a rebrand —chances are good that you’re looking for a change in how your business (or product) is performing. The whole purpose of a rebrand is to achieve a specific business objective by altering the perceptions of your company or product. To do so, you must address the individual elements that make up the brand’s identity, controlling how it looks and feels to the world.
Why rebrand? A successful rebrand has many benefits. Not only should it help you stand apart from your competition, it should also make it easier to attract new customers who may not have considered your offerings before. It can also help certain problem areas, like closing the disparity between what you think you should be able to charge, vs. what customers think your services are worth.
A rebrand is not the solution to everything but it has the potential to breathe life and energy into a stale or uninspired business rut.
Rebrands vary in scope. For some companies, a rebrand involves a somewhat minor, cosmetic makeover of identity elements, such as logo, tagline, and brand color(s). In other cases, the rebrand is major and part of a bigger fundamental shift in a company’s ideology and direction. The rebrand may influence product design, production practices, customer policies and marketing strategy.
No matter how big or small the change is that you seek, a successful rebrand involves two things:
1) Making informed choices for your rebrand based on research & experience (not just gut feelings & emotions)
2) Consistent implementation of your new brand elements.
Here are 10 tips to keep your rebrand on track and implemented successfully:
I'll warn you up front, it's a guest post I found in the archives from almost three years ago on my first blog, but it's a classic piece. The images and story behind them are so relevant to what every portrait artist is working so hard to accomplish. It's also one of the most read guest posts I've had over the last several years.
We're all part of an amazing industry and there are people who come into our lives, who, when you think about them, you can't remember a time when they weren't around. It doesn't matter how long you've actually known them. Well, meet our good buddy, Elena Hernandez from Dallas. She's an artist and a great photographer, but more important is her passion and dedication to the industry. She's a diehard believer in education and there's no such thing as too many workshops, programs, webinars etc. She attends everything she can and never stops learning or encouraging other photographers to do the same!
This guest post hits on an important topic, universal to every specialty in professional photography, getting to know your subject! Knowing your subject gives you the opportunity to photograph more than just their physical being - it allows you to capture the intangible, their personality. So, thank you Elena, but not just for this blog, but your dedication to our industry and helping so many photographers think about their passion for the craft! Skip Cohen
"Only Passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things." Denis Diderot
A few years ago I had the honor of being asked to go to Mexico to teach photography. The other artists invited were Oscar & Jessica Lozoya, Armando Chacon, and John Tanguma. We were asked to go to the border town of Nuevo Laredo. We were also told there was a war going on between the drug lords and the corrupt police/politicians of both sides of the border. (huh? a war? you want me to teach during a gun fight?)
Yes...We went there even though there were people being killed everyday in this little border town over drugs and politics. What was even more amazing: there were students who were willing to travel through this war zone. We were limited to staying at the hotel to teach those who attended the seminar, for fear of gang reprisals in the area.
I was supposed to have a wedding couple as models, but because of scheduling conflicts they cancelled. I was given an alternative to photograph an elderly gentleman by the name of Vincente Medina. I thought to myself,
" Not a problem, I will just do a nice portrait of an older gentleman. Until I got to know him..."
One night, over a glass of wine....He told me a little bit about himself. He was a professional photographer who was a pilot in the war. He was married to his lovely wife for over 50 years and she gave him nine children. He lost her 4 years ago and they use to be ballroom dance champions. That is what he missed the most, dancing.
I immediately had a vision how I wanted to photograph him. I could visualize him in a bistro type setting drinking a glass of wine, smoking his cigarette reminiscing over the photograph of his wife. In the background, I wanted to have a couple dancing a tango. They represented to me, Vincente and his wife dancing when they were young. I wanted this portrait to portray his story and his love. In the beginning I was just going to do a portrait of an elderly man, but once I got to know the MAN, I had to do a portrait that told his story.
The day came for me to do my segment, which was "available light", and the day ended up being filled with thunderstorms. I originally wanted to be outdoors, but because of the rain, ended up doing this image by window light. I was on a ladder to get a higher camera angle. I photographed with a shallow depth of field on purpose. I wanted the couple in the image to be out of focus so that your eyes were drawn to the man in the image. This image was shot at ISO 800, F4 at 30th of a second, with a Nikon camera & an 85mm 1.8 lens.
As I was photographing Mr. Medina I was also telling the class what I was doing and waiting for the interpreter to repeat what I said. I noticed that while I was shooting, Vincente was speaking to the photograph of his wife, which added to the poignant expression he had.
After the session, I showed the class what I would do to the image in Photoshop. I decided it would look good as a black and white and after I tweaked the image Mr. Medina wanted to say a few words...
He walked up to the front of the class...sat down on a stool, bowed his head and began to quote a poem that was his wife's favorite. My Spanish is rusty, but I could follow what he was saying. At first he was speaking in a low tone but he then got more and more passionate about this poem as he was reciting it. Everyone in the room was crying. When he finished the poem the class gave him a standing ovation. Wiping my tears, I thanked him. There was nothing I could have said to top that.
He paused, came up to me and took my hand. He said he was so moved by the photograph that he wanted to share with the students what he was saying as I was photographing him and that he was so grateful for the experience
I wanted to share this with you in this blog, because even though I was there to teach...I learned a valuable lesson as well: If you get to know your subjects and listen to them before you set up your camera, you just might create a session that's not only more intimate for your client, but will tap into your imagination and find new ways to be creative.
" To Dance With You Again" This image Merited at PPA and hung at nationals.
I've always said the best thing about imaging has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's mutual love for the craft. I've had only two conversations with Ed Heaton, one of them a new podcast that's airing today, and I can already tell this is the start of a great friendship. We may not have met before, but we share so many common friends and companies we've worked with, including all our friends over at Tamron.
I love Ed's tagline on his website, which pretty much tells you what he's all about,
"Learning to capture light will make extraordinary images out of ordinary subjects!"
There are a lot of you who are thinking that a post on composition is just too basic for a how-to blog post for professional photographers. Sadly, having looked at so many galleries over the last year, great composition seems to be one of the biggest challenges for so many photographers. And, while Ed may be focused on landscapes, the principles of great images never change, no matter what the subject!
When Ed's not shooting, he's teaching and without question he should be on your radar. It doesn't matter what your specialty is, this is about understanding how to capture and create extraordinary images. Follow Ed's workshop schedule for some great opportunities to grow your skill set and visit his site for some outstanding images in his galleries.
And after you read his guest post, wander over to his podcast and then check out this month's featured Tamron lens of the month, one of Ed's favorites!
Here a just a few tips for mastering composition.
Composition is the logical arrangement of elements so that their relationship is pleasing to the eye. The elements are things that make up the scene (e.g. lines, shapes, texture, patterns, colors, tones, light, etc.).
Let’s be honest, some people seem to have an easier time with composition. They appear to be born with an artistic eye or should I say an inner vision. The rest of us need to develop it through practice and visual stimulation.
You will have to pay special attention to all of the elements in a scene. Not just your main subject but also the small things. Once you start to notice these things, you are beginning to see. Once you are seeing, mastering composition is within reach.
Keep It Simple
One of the most effective tools you can use in composition is to simplify.
Learn to look at the entire frame and eliminate elements that don't need to be there. If something in the frame isn't supporting what you're trying to show, don't include it. You need to show your subject clearly, leaving no confusion on the part of the viewer about what you were photographing
Elements and lines within the scene can be used to create implied or actual frames. Use these frames within the photograph to call attention to your subject.
Lines, Lines, and more Lines
Lines in photographs provide a path that lead the viewer’s eye from one element to another and hopefully, keep the viewer in the photograph. There can be many types of lines in a photograph.
Create a Sense of Depth
Images that are well executed tend to have three distinct regions.
Foreground leads the viewer into the scene – it provides a starting point. So, you should probably include something of interest that will anchor the image.
Middle ground may contain the main subject of the image. It may also serve to move the viewer along to the background.
Background, like the middle ground, may contain the main subject, or it may merely provide a pleasing completion to the image.
Color, more than any other design element, determines the emotional content of a photograph.
A light subject will have more impact if placed against a dark background and vice-versa. Contrasting colors may be used for emphasis, but can become distracting if not considered carefully.
All images copyright Ed Heaton. All Rights Reserved.
Benevolent Goodwill and a Solid Love for Humanity: Guest post by Giovanna Mandel
There are so many ways you have to give back, both with and without a camera in your hands. I saw these images from Giovanna Mandel and asked her to do a guest post and I'm grateful she was willing.
So often, new photographers especially, seem to get stumped on ways to get involved in their community. Well, here's a little program Giovanna has been doing with Indy's own Riley Hospital. Giovanna's helping to make the world a better place, one little corner at a time. Now, imagine what we could do as an industry if EVERY photographer got involved in programs like this!
When I was eight or nine years old the act of charity overwhelmed my home. My mother was always “doing” for other families and I have a distinct memory of her wiping the forehead of a young girl who she had just accompanied to chemotherapy, and now was waiting on her parents. On the days that her parents couldn’t take off work and drive into NYC for the treatments, my mother did. A neighbor in need, you help. Cancer would rear its ugly head one too many times, taking my father from us when I was 19.
Years later I would chat with a friend about a new venture through Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The Cancer Center at Riley Hospital would host its very first Riley Cancer Prom. I offered my photographic services and was greeted with open arms by all involved. Besides the event itself, the patients and families are treated to an outing at Promingdales where they choose clothing and all the necessary bling to look fabulous on the night of Prom. The day of Prom volunteer hairstylists and makeup artists converge on the hospital to provide a Day Spa for all the ladies attending. The EVENT itself is decorated to the extreme with a chosen theme for the year.
On Friday I photographed the fourth annual Riley Cancer Prom and it is my favorite day of the year. Fathers dance with their daughters, mothers hug their boys extra close, children dance their feet off, as only children can.
Even though many of the children sport hairless heads, the smiles they display and the laughter that resounds in the building allows them a brief moment of normalcy. I feel blessed to be a part of this event and to provide families with images that show joy during a time in their lives that is painful.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the epitome of charitable giving, St. Catherine of Siena:
"Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
I am fortunate beyond measure to be a part of this day and it fills me up with love of humanity and compassion for those who suffer. Yet more than anything, my time at the Riley Hospital Prom fills me with joy and hope for the future.
All images copyright Giovanna Mandel. All Rights Reserved