We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
When we started in the photography business we were wedding and lifestyle photographers. We built our business around the amazing experience our clients could expect, something we still prioritize today. But we also became identified by our photographic style. We prefer bright and light imagery because it communicates so much joy and happiness, something that was especially important for our couples and high school seniors.
When we transitioned our entire business because we had identified a need for custom brand imagery for businesses, we still held onto part of that identity. We still shot every session bright and light which at the time worked for most of the clients we were attracting. You attract what you show, so we naturally attracted brands with that aesthetic.
Until we didn’t.
It was an experience that made us realize the importance of understanding the brand.
We were ecstatic when we landed the job. At the time, it was the absolute pinnacle of our career as commercial photographers. We were going to be working with a professional baseball team, the Chicago White Sox! Boom. Mind blown!
In many ways, we were setting ourselves up for one of the biggest learning curves of our career. We prepared like we were going to be running a marathon because, figuratively, it felt like we would be. We rented equipment we weren’t 100% comfortable with to try it out at home and make sure we knew what we were doing. We researched, prepped, planned, and ultimately executed what we thought was some of our best work yet.
Here are some photos of that first shoot with the White Sox.
It very well might have been our best work to date, except that we missed one big, important detail.
We were shooting for the Chicago White Sox. A team on the South Side of Chicago. Think city life, subways, Chicago Dogs. Does any of that sound bright and light to you? The team might be called the White Sox, but their predominant brand color is black. We photographed them outside in Arizona during Spring Training with muted desert colors in the background, bright blown out skies, and reduced shadows and contrast. Seeing our problem yet?
As bright and light photographers, we took excellent photos for the brand, but all of them were shot in our preferred style of imagery. We didn’t take into account what the brand’s preferred style was. They loved the images and never said anything negative, but when they used the photos they all had a filter on them. It was the moment we came to a realization that we needed to really understand the brand we were shooting for.
Thankfully, we had a second chance. This time we approached the shoot for the White Sox with a clear understanding of the brand – who they were and how they liked their imagery to look. Instead of taking photos outside in the Arizona landscape, we took them inside a blackout tent with white backdrop paper and lighting equipment. We focused on the ethos of the brand and styled according to their messaging. Our final images pulled in more shadows and blacks and remained timeless by being photographed on white, instead of dated with the Spring Training environment backgrounds.
When we delivered these photos to our client, they were over-the-moon excited! We had finally zeroed in on their brand and delivered photos that didn’t need any adjustments in order to represent them well. They posted the new photos constantly without any added filters. We had taken the time to understand the brand and deliver them content that was THEM.
To date, it’s one of the most beneficial lessons we learned since entering this side of the industry. You have to consider the brand, not your own personal style preferences, in order to serve them well. So next time you are working with a brand, take the time to understand them and what type of imagery will reflect well on their brand. Then, don’t be afraid to adapt to it and deliver them personalized content they will love!
Enjoying this content? We sure hope so! We’re actually launching an online course soon ALL about how to plan a successful branding shoot and style for your client. It’s called, The Planning + Styling Course: How to Get Inside Your Client’s Head + Style Photos to Build Their Brand. Want to be the first to know about the launch and special launch offers? Join the waitlist HERE!