Figuring out a style and a brand for your company has a lot to do with figuring out your personal style. Who knew, right? Actually it makes perfect, common sense. How can you be successful at something that isn't truly you?
I don't know if it was fate or perfect timing or pure irony but over the last couple of months I've thought about my personal style a lot. I wasn't trying to figure out what type of shoes fit me best or what color of eye shadow suits me, but more so I was trying to figure out everything I like, everything I stand for and be completely, 100% okay with it. I wanted to not care what others thought about my style. (...Eyeshadow colors included.)
Let me give you a perfect example. I love country music. And for some odd reason I feel like the majority of Portland'ers don't. Which is probably true. During the summer months (my favorite time to blast country tunes) I would have to drive with my window down...actually I shouldn't say "I HAVE" to because unless it's 95 degrees or hotter I would choose to. I don't have AC though and even on those hot days my window would be rolled down. When I would drive either downtown or maybe out in the Alberta district or even into the parking lot of Olive Garden I would either turn down my country tunes or I would change the channel. My thought was, even though I enjoy that music, that I wouldn't fit into the Portland-style if they heard it. I actually believed that people would judge me because I liked country music.
It sounds really immature actually. And it was. Which is why I've been dwelling on silly things like that and coming to the conclusion that I really shouldn't care if I don't fit into some one's style. So what if I am not a hipster or I don't have 10 tattoos or that my husband and I love to sing to Rascal Flatts. I think focusing on my personal style and being completely okay with me will help me focus on my photography style and be completely okay with how I photograph, how I edit and how I present my photos. Maybe I should make a list of things I like, things I enjoy and tell the world (or, eh, the people who read this) that I am completely okay with my style and if you don't like it well then.... _ _! (Next blog post perhaps.)
I had a color scheme in mind that I wanted for my business. It included some sort of beige/brown/natural concept. I had the designers at 99designs use those types of colors for my logo. The other day I was thinking about my personal style as I compare it to my photography style. I looked around my house and noticed some of my favorite things lying around, I thought about my favorite comforter on our bed and then I noticed the colors in my living room and even my shower curtains. My personal color preference is actually very clear. It's clear in how I decorate, what I wear and...yes...even in my eye shadow colors.
So the above photos are all from my house. Thank God I stuck with my gut on my logo and picked a logo that represented a color scheme that fits me. I like brown. I like natural hues. I like "burnt sierra"and "cadmium burnt light" and maybe some "yellow ochre." (You can looks all those up they are colors.) I like the colors for me, I like the colors for my business and I like the colors in photographs.
Now I have to put an "absolute" argument in here to be fair. I know that not everything is absolute and I know that my style has some give in take. I mean just because I like natural tones does that mean that I can't own a pair of bright red shoes? Because I do. Just because I love country music, does it mean that I can't listen to Band of Horses or Joshua Radin or Led Zeppelin? Because I do. (In fact I just listed three of my all time favorite bands.) Does that mean that if someone wants to do a family shoot with me and their favorite color is bright purple and they dress their entire family in bright purple clothes that I won't photograph them? Of course not! Actually being absolute is not my style. I like change, I like to keep my life bouncing. I change my hairstyle constantly and I have 6 different radio stations that are WAY different from one another. However, I do still strongly believe in knowing your "majority" style and allowing that to work for you while not being afraid to embrace something different from time to time.
The other night I was brain storming with words and phrases by thinking about what I like and what I see (for the most part) in my photographs. These are the words I came up with:
Real. Light. Natural. Outdoors. Adventure. People. Straightforward. Pure.Capture. Bright. Simple.Candid.Laughter. Country. Places. Raw. Genuine.Luminous. Fun.Nature.Document.Relaxed.
With those words I came up with a few phrases that help me think about my photography style. For instance "bright, light and luminous" describe my overall look of a photo. And I think I'm finally starting to be okay with the fact that I like my photos well-lit. I like to see their faces, I like to see what is around them and my shots are usually brighter than they are darker. (With the exception of silhouettes, which I love...silhouettes just means that the background is well-lit.) I love looking at photographs that are smoky and dark and sexy. But that's not really my style and I'm not very good at pulling it off. Again, with the absolute, does that mean I won't seize a chance to document a darker, deep photo? Probably not. But if I like it bright and lit than that's what I'll do most of the time. Here are a few more phrases:
I will photograph what happens and will not falsify an image.
I will not over edit or re-touch too much so that a person/place looks fake.
I will allow my subjects to be relaxed and have fun.
I will not be stuffy or over-posed. (I don't photograph models.)
I will capture people and places with natural light or I will add light so that the photo is illuminated and bright.
I will try to find clean backgrounds and not over-complicate my image.
I will tell there story, the whole story and will not be too intrusive.
I like to take photographs in the country.
I like my subjects to bee well-lit.
I like real smiles and genuine laughter.
It's funny when I think about these statements and then I think about photographs that I have taken in the past that stand-out to me or that are my favorite.. They (for the most part) fit into a lot of those statements above. Check this- my favorite engagement shoot that I did this year was with a couple that was a lot of fun, very genuine and just relaxed. We did their shoot out in the country, I used A LOT of natural light. And when you check this shoot out, don't forget to think about my color scheme. Check it out... Engagement Shoot.
Interesting, huh? I booked a wedding this week. The client told me that it was between me and one other photographer. I won the battle. Not sure why and I probably won't find out why. We talked about their engagement shoot and I asked where they would like to do the shoot. She answered "my fiance's grandparents have a big farm out in the country, we'd like to do it there." "Perfect." I thought to myself. She made the right choice for a photographer.