#iHeartFaces Conference | Signature Style

This post is part of a series of posts I will write as I reflect on the iHeartFaces Photography Conference for women which I attended the first weekend of October, 2013.  To see the all posts, click here.

During the fifth session on Saturday, Amandalynn Jones went over signature styling with some of us.

This session sort of stemmed from some things I’d been hearing about branding and that the way we process and present our images is part of our brand.  While I arrived late to this session, I did get a ton out of this and have, therefore started moving toward developing a focused portfolio, image styling, and, well, anything at all.

First of all, Amandalynn focused on a few items which are essential for creating a brand:

We must be consistent over time. Our clients want to know what they are hiring and should know, in general, what sort of images to expect.  Amandalynn told a story about how one of her commercial clients told her that, when they hire her, she shows up.  Not just that she arrives on location, but she is always the same person, delivering images that they love.   This story stuck with me and I hope to begin creating consistent images for my clients, especially as I have more experience and develop more as a photographer.

We must create a recognizable brand.  Amandalynn tied in our consistency as further developing our brand.  Our images are part of our brand, especially since we are in the visual arts sector.  Clients will tie our art to our brand name.  For me, this means further embracing the bright and happy images I try to attain in camera and in post-processing.

We should be sure to unify our portfolio.  As I review my portfolio, I may notice a few pictures that don’t jive with the rest.  If I do, I shouldn’t put them out there as examples of my work. This doesn’t mean that I cannot put just one black and white picture in with the bright and colorful one; it just means that my b&w images should match the theme/mood of the other images in the collection.

We should also be sure to avoid trends and stand out.  It can be easy to drift into current trends in photography, especially if we buy presets, actions, and popular textures.  However, if we are different, we stand out.  And I really want my work to be timeless and adoring.  I saw some presets that I could purchase that mimicked Instagram photos.  I thought about jumping on that, but then I realized that this is a fad–a trend.  I don’t want to blend in with a trend.  I want to be set apart and different.

After reviewing this information, Amandalynn ran us through a couple reflective exercises.

First, she asked us to think about our images–our favorite images, the images that catch our attention, the purpose we have when creating images, and the vision for the photos.

Then she showed us the difference between a picture about a cupcake and an image of a cupcake.  I don’t have the two images, but the image of a cupcake was just a cupcake, at the same level as the cupcake.  The image about a cupcake had strawberries slightly blurred in the background, some milk in a bottle next to the cupcake, and a cupcake from a 50 degree angle or so.

Then, she spoke about pre-visioning and collaborating.

Pre-visioning, she said, involved making storyboards.  She showed us an example of a storyboard she might make for her clients.  She–and I love this– made fun of her own drawing and revealed that, even though she had a degree with a focus in drawing, she still felt she was awful at it.  So, in essence, drawing a storyboard helps her to vision what she will do with the clients.

Then, she spoke about collaborating with her clients.  She showed us an email she sent a client where she said she pictured the client’s two daughters dancing in the field where she had been recently.  Since she shared this information with her client, the two daughters had been practicing dancing and she was able to get super-cute and authentic pictures of them in action.

For homework, Amandalynn told us to choose 3 to 6 adjectives (ENGLISH WORD!!) for the images we want to shoot.  She suggests we put these in a place where we can review them before every shoot.

So, Amandalynn, I have completed your homework assignment:

  1. Happy
  2. Bright
  3. Joyful
  4. Sentimental
  5. Authentic
  6. Fun

What about you? How would you describe your images or the images you’d love to have donning your walls?

Thanks, Amandalynn, for sharing your insight!

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