Style

TOP TIPS FOR WORKING WITH BRANDS AND STYLING THEIR PRODUCTS

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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. 

OUTREACH 

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. 

BE CLEAR

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. 

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Whew, I feel like I barely just scratched the surface. I think I may have to come back with round too. What do you think? ;) xoxo! Samantha

P.S. Don't forget to grab my favorite tee from Rosalynne Love


TOP TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY THE MACY THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE

LOCATION: GRAND CENTRAL STATION 

OUTFIT DETAILS: Keen Boots  ||  Keen Socks || Fleece Lined Leggings  || Long Sleeve Base Layer (similar)  || North Face Triclimate  || Red Beanie  || LowePro Photo Hatchback  || Hydro Flask 

There was this one time that I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and cheered Tyler on as he walked the parade as a balloon handler for Blue Sky's Scrat balloon... ;)

This was our first year at the parade. We figured at some point since we now live in New York that we would venture down one year and experience it all. This year was extra special though, because Tyler was able to be in the parade! His studio had a balloon in the parade and he was selected to be one of the balloon handlers. 

Tyler had to be in the city at 6:30am, which meant we were catching the 4:55am train... it was so early. The city streets were quiet when we arrived and Tyler walked with me to a place in the parade route that I could park and wait for the parade to start. I planted myself right across the street from Bryant Park and then I waited there for the next three hours, haha! I anticipated needing to stay warm so I had plenty of layers on including base layers and Keen socks, ha!

I was thinking about all the different things I wanted to share about the parade, but I didn't want to give away any spoilers for those that may want to go, so I'll share some of my favorite moments. The marching bands were by far one of my favorite things, I think I just really like music and seeing all the kids march along the street blowing their brass horns and drum their drums. It took me right back to high school when my brother was in marching band. The balloons are maybe the best part because you actually get to see how big they a really are. And watching the parade unfold is really cool too. Seeing all the police officers come out and line the streets. Seeing people start to file up along the barricades... it's the little things. :) 

TIPS FOR WATCHING THE PARADE

THE EARLIER THE BETTER: As I mentioned above we arrived in the city about 6:00am. We had never done the parade before and I thought I would arrive to the parade route seeing empty streets and just sit there sad and alone, haha! But, boy was I wrong. The parade route was already lined with people... at 6:00am. Tyler and I walked the route only a bit before we found a place across from Bryant Park were we thought I could probably see. There was already a solid line of people in front of the street barricades. Those first row people, as I lovingly call them, arrived at the parade route around 4:30am.  

DON'T BOTHER BRINGING CHAIRS: The streets of the parade route get crazy packed and they don't allow chairs. If you show up at 4:30am, you are more then welcome to sit in your folding chair and hold space, but once it's near time for the parade to start they have you fold up your chairs. No chairs mean more people can fit, ha!

BE PREPARED TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR: Getting to know the people your standing near is beneficial because then you at least have someone to talk to. Because I was there alone I felt much better once I made friends with the people I was standing with. They were all very kind, all out-of-towners, and we did our best to protect each others spots as the parade route became more packed. Speaking of the parade route being packed... we were packed in like sardines. When I first arrived I was in the second row of the parade prospectors and we all had plenty of personal space and elbow room. As the parade got closer, and the streets began to fill with more people, everyone started getting way, way closer, haha. 

DEHYDRATION IS CONSIDERABLE: Once you arrive at the parade route you really don't want to leave. Once you have made friends with your neighbors they will most likely hold your spot if you need to run to the restroom or grab breakfast but then you have to go through the trouble of actually finding a restroom or standing in line for food. I ate breakfast on the train and had a little bit of water, but once I arrived on the parade route at 6:00am I didn't eat or drink anything until the parade was over and I was back at Grande Central Station. I went about 6 hours without eating or drinking and I wouldn't change it. Some of the ladies I was standing with didn't leave the spots either and they were there a little bit before me. 

TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY THE PARADE

FRONT ROW IS BEST: If you are able to get to the parade early enough that you can be in the front row then you're golden. Being in the front row means you can actually look down the parade route and get different perspectives of the parade. Because I was in the second row and kind of short (haha!) I was only able to take photos as the parade passed right in front of me. When Tyler's balloon got close the friends I had made, made room for me to squeeze up into the front row so I was able to snap photos of Tyler's balloon coming down the parade line. 

CAPTURE THE ACTION: Some of my favorite photos to take were of the marching bands flag team because I was able to actually capture action in the photo. There were plenty of times when a band or group walked by and they were doing just that, walking. But the times when a group was performing, being able to capture them in action brings your audience right to the parade with you. 

BE CAUTIOUS: ... With your elbows, haha! But seriously, things get really snuggling on the parade line. There were a few times I accidentally ran into someone. When things get crowded ask with kindness. There was one time I really wanted to look down the parade line to take a photo. The girl in front of my was standing on the street while I was on the side walk. She was just short enough that I was able to lean over her and snap a photo. I asked kindly before just leaning over her because that would have been creepy, haha! 

KNOW YOUR GEAR BEFORE YOU GO: Unless you are taking multiple camera bodies, switching out lenses really isn't ideal. Once I took my camera out of my bag I didn't get into my bag again because it was too crowded. I determined ahead of time which gear I would take and which I thought would best for the parade. I took my Nikon D700 (it's counterpart) paired with my 50mm. Because the D700 is full frame the 50mm is a good pair to get everything in frame. If you are shooting with a crop sensor camera body the 50mm, might be a little tight and I would recommend the 35mm

Once the parade ends the crowds disperse and everyone goes their separate was. Because Tyler was in the parade he was a part of deflating the ballon. We had planned at meeting somewhere after the parade, versus me just waiting on the parade line. I hung out in Bryant Park once the parade ended, but didn't stay long as it started to rain. I was so proud of myself because I was fully prepared for rain, haha! The outer shelf of my North Face Triclimate is a rain jacket and my LowePro Photo Hatchback has a rain cover. I walked down the city streets towards Grand Central and waited for Tyler to catch our train home. We had the very best time! xoxo. Samantha 

P.S. Shout out to Lauren, Tyler's co-worker, for capturing Tyler holding the Scrat balloon! 


WIDE OPEN SPACES: THE ART OF LEARNING FROM OTHERS

A sure-fire way to grow and learn is to spend time with other creatives... and also step in front of the camera. ;) Amy of A Love Photography spearheaded our mountain photo shoot. She dreamed up the loveliest idea to put us all in flowing dresses and photograph us in front of beautiful Colorado mountains. Best idea ever, if you ask me. I couldn't wait to jump in and snap photos of everyone. 

What I loved most about this experience and the experience of the whole weekend was how much I learned. Learning in experiences like these isn't like studying a book or scrolling through tips online, it's about being present and observing how and why others execute their craft. 

ASK HOW

My default photo face is a serious face. I'm most comfortable in front of the camera with a serious face, for some reason it comes more naturally. Beth, however, has the best laughing photos. She makes laughing and smiling look easy, but there's an art to it, just like a good serious face. The best way to learn the art of each of these styles of posing is simply to ask. I asked Beth if she could teach me her laughing pose. The great thing about having someone teach you verses simply trying to figure it out is that they are able to explain all the small details that make the photo work. 

ACTIVELY LISTEN 

When we did this mountain inspired shoot Amy directed each of us as we stood in front of her camera. While she was directing Beth and Meg, I was actively listening to how she talked through each session, the types of tips she gave her subjects, and how she wanted them to pose. Our styles are different, but actively listening to  how another photographer directs can teach us and inspire us in our own work. 

OBSERVE

I loved observing Beth during photo shoots and any time we were actively taking photos. Beth definitely inspired me to think differently about my photos.  The way she executes taking photos feels so much more fluid then my execution. Simply observing another photographer as they work and being able to view their work throughout the process will really inspire you too see things differently and encourage you to stretch yourself as a photographer.   

I absolutely love spending time with other bloggers and photographers. It's the best feeling hanging with with a bunch of lovely people who just get you. What are some ways you actively learn from others? xoxo. Samantha

Photo Credit: A Love Photography 


TIPS & TRICKS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE PHOTOS

Laughing and brunch dates for the win, amiright? I love to laugh and I love spending time with people who laugh and make me laugh. These friends make me laugh and I love everything about that. Two things happen to us as photographers.... we either take our camera everywhere we go... or we leave it at home. If I'm not careful I leave my camera at home (I'm currently telling myself it's because we're homebodies, haha.)

In an effort to take more lifestyle photos and continue to challenge myself as a photographer I wanted to come up with some tips and tricks for taking more and better lifestyle photos. 

MAKE A PLAN

When I was with the girls I knew we would be taking photos every where we went, that's the perk of hanging out with other photographers. :) We planned to go to brunch and it was second nature to be toting my camera around. I had made a mental plan that I would take photos, that I would capture our moments together, and hopefully snap some style photos while we were at it. I made a plan. This is a huge tip for me, because most of the time I'm hanging out with non-photographers/bloggers. I get a little insecure when I pull out my camera and start snapping photos of everyone and their mom. Luckily, my closest friends are used to it, ha! Now that I'm home it's important for me to make that mental plan. I have to decided  ahead of time I'm going to take lifestyle photos while I'm out and take pictures of everyone and their mom. ;) 

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR LIGHT AND SURROUNDINGS 

I feel like I harp on light at lot, but hey, it's important, right? Light is crucial in our photos, but with lifestyle photos, because we're working to capture moments that naturally unfold, we can't always move our subjects. BUT, we can move ourselves or adjust our surroundings to create better light or a better atmosphere.  During our brunch date we ate outside, which was great because it was beautiful and sunny. The light however, was harsh and direct. We ended up opening the umbrella over our table. This was great for two reasons; we didn't have light streaming into our eyes, and we had more even light to snap photos in. 

DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS

Details are some of my favorite moments to capture. They tell a great part of your story and most of the time they are easy to capture. Details can be more then objects... they can be hands, accessories, moments, and everything else in between. 

BE DISCRETE  

Do you want to know a secret? One of my least favorite things is drawing attention to myself when I take photos. I wish I could be invisible and just snap away. If I'm hanging out with people who aren't in front of the camera often, I try my best to be discrete. I try to capture them when they aren't looking. I snap a few detail shots around them before actually pointing the camera at them. This allows them to get a little more comfortable in front of the camera and hopefully they relax. 

Featured items:  Punch Vintage Leather Cuff c/o ||  Natalie Borton Necklace c/o || Joyful Ink Calligraphy Drink Stirs c/o

*Save 10% on Natalie Borton jewelry when you use this link! Woot! 

Every day is a new day to grow, learn, and experiment with our photography. Have you ever heard the quote, "We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better." I feel the same way about photographing. The more photos we take the better we get. What are some of your favorite lifestyle photos tips? xoxo. Samantha

*Photo Credits: Elah Tree || Oak + Oats || A Love photography