When I was a portrait photographer the concept of working with brands or small businesses never crossed my mind. I was a portrait photographer, so I shot engagement photos, or senior photos, or family photos. Isn't it crazy how things change, how photography has changed and how the blogging industry has changed. It's crazy and great all at the same time.
I became acquainted with working with brands when my creative endeavors were focused on lifestyle blogging and I love everything I learned through that experience too. Before we dive into the concept of working with brands I want to talk about you as a photographer. Something that I hope will help as you grow your business or grow as a photographer.
BE YOU AND ONLY YOU
I have been hearing this a lot and I'm guessing for good reason. I recently finished Fast Track Photographer and that was one of the main takeaways from the book. There is no short of photographers these days and there is no short of lifestyle bloggers either. I think I could say this about a variety of creative industries. So, why is this important? Because we all have choices, tons and tons of choices. When we look for brands to work with or vice versa, we have plenty of choices to choose from. What sets us apart is being uniquely who we are. We want to create a style and brand of our own that is instantly recognizable and memorable. We want to differentiate ourselves.
So if you are a photographer, looking for brands to work with, remember, they are looking for something specific. You can't be everything to everyone, but you can be the perfect photographer with a memorable style that brands want to work with.
If you are a brand or small business owner choose a photographer who's style that you absolutely love. You want to choose them because of the style and vision they create, because you can trust them to do the same for you.
Don't be discouraged if you are still developing your own unique style. I still feel like I'm developing mine. What's important is that we continually push ourselves to get there and stay true to that unique style.
MAKE A LIST
Now on to the good stuff, working with brands. To get started, make a list or keep a running list of brands that you would love to work with. These brands can be big or small. They can be a small business just getting their business off the ground, it can be someone who has been in business for a few years, or it can be a larger brand. The idea is to get a sense of which brands you think you would be a good fit for. This isn't just a wish list, you also really want to evaluate if you feel that your style, will work for the brands on your list. There are plenty of brands that I love and that would be amazing to work with, but I also know that my specific style probably isn't the best for them and that's okay. Knowing this about your style and how it serves others will help you build positive relationships with brands down the line.
ENGAGE & RESEARCH
Engaging with a brand and doing a bit of research will help you establish a relationship with them before working with them. Working with brands happens two ways. You reach out to them or they reach out to you. The practice of engaging and researching brands could lead to either outcomes; they might reach out to you and you might reach out to them. Engagement is important because you are able to get on their radar. You could tag them in a post, like their posts, or comment on their posts. Remember, brands are getting pitches all the time, your engagement with them may set you ahead of the pack.
Here's a great example. I have been following Rosalynne Love on instagram for a long time. Longer then I can remember, haha! Just recently Rosalynne Love was looking for Ambassadors for their brand, which I found out about through instagram, and I jumped at the opportunity. I love working with and supporting brands and I always love the opportunity to shoot new products. Because I had been following Rosalynne Love for so long I was familiar with her brand and felt like my style would be a great fit for her.
A few things to consider when you outreach to brands. When writing your emails keep it friendly, but short and with a purpose. Let them know what you have in mind, but don't overload them with details. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Consider sending one of your favorite images or include something that you feel will work great for their brand. When you wrap up your email, include a call to action.
EMBRACING THE BRAND THROUGH YOUR VISION
Every brand is different and one thing that will make working with brands enjoyable and successful is to embrace the brand through your own vision. This is why the research part of the process is so important. If you have already done the research and feel that you have a solid understanding of the brand, you will start to develop a vision for the imagery you want to create. Let's get back to Rosalynne Love. Because I was already familiar with the brand when our working relationship started I already had a vision for the type of images I wanted to create. I knew that the style of her tees were right in-line with my own personal style which is also apart of the Elah Tree brand. You want to be able to embrace the brand with your own vision, all while creating your unique styled in your images.
When working with and creating for brands, be clear and confident. Remember, your first goal as a photographer is to create your own unique style. Brands that want to work with you know the type of imagery you create, that is why they have chosen you. Remember to be clear in your communication of deliverables. Let them know how many images you will be delivery. What type of license your images come with, the timelines in which their photographs will be executed and when they will receive their final images. When I work with clients I always send them an email when I begin working on their images, the progress of their images, and when I'm close to delivery.
ARE YOU A BRAND OR SMALL BUSINESS IN NEED OF PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY? LET'S WORK TOGETHER!
ALL ABOUT STYLING: ADD VARIETY
Every brand and product are different and one thing I absolutely love is that often times every product can be shot in a variety of ways. Make sure to include a variety of styling with the products. For the Rosalynne Love tee I knew I would physically wear the top, but I also knew I wanted to do some flatlays with the tee as well.
When styling clothing pieces, especially pieces that have sayings on them, like the one I'm wearing, I like to create imagery that adds to the story. I knew I wanted to shoot outside and I wanted to create imagery that added to the story of being outdoors or going on an adventure. I wanted the flatlays I created to do the same thing. (Read all about my flatlay tips here.)
MAKE IT LIVED IN
One thing that is incredibly important to me when styling products is that I want all the products to feel lived in. I want each product to feel natural. When we make the products feel natural and lived in, customers connect with them on a more personal level. They see themselves wearing the product or using the product.