Author Archives: Lisa Devlin

What If You Fall Out Of Love With Your Brand?

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It’s not you it’s me”, I thought. “I’ve changed, I’ve moved on. It’s nothing you did, we are just not in the same place anymore. I still love you but I’m just not in love with you anymore. You will always be a part of me but I need to try something new”.

It all started when I was trying to redesign my PDF that I send to clients when they enquire. I just couldn’t pull together something that I was truly excited about. I didn’t think it was the images but laying them out with my current logo and fonts just seemed to lose their impact. I stressed about it for two days and then it hit me… I had quite simply fallen out of love with my brand.

I started to flirt with different fonts and suddenly I felt excited again… It was definitely time for a change. But where to start and where to draw the line? For me, this would be no easy decision. I have three companies all under the same brand and each one is now pretty established in their own fields. This wasn’t going to be a case of bodging together a different header and calling Moo for new business cards. My new found freedom suddenly felt quite overwhelming.

I had a stab at a new logo myself and sent it over to Kat, thinking I had done a fairly good job. Being the good friend that she is, she immediately came back and told me it was a bit crap, and that while I could cobble something half decent together myself, that doesn’t always mean that I should… oh! She said it was time to get a professional in and she was so right. If this kind of thing isn’t your forte then more help than ever is at hand. Unlike last time I rebranded, there are now specialist photographers’ brand experts and so I got straight onto Skype with the amazing Melissa Love who frequently joins us on our workshops at Photography Farm. She gets pretty booked up so I know I was lucky that she could fit me in.

Now my major problem was that I didn’t really know what I wanted. Luckily as far as Melissa is concerned I didn’t need to. As a photographer my heart does sink if anyone ever comes to me with a huge list of set shots that they want… ‘Bride looking in mirror putting in earrings’, ‘best man pinning on grooms buttonhole’, ‘giant fake dinosaur chasing wedding guests’ (you get the idea) I much prefer to photograph the narrative as I see it on the day and if any of those things happen when I’m around then I will record them ~ although I might be a little surprised at the last one! I don’t want to force a moment and it’s the same with your designer. You need to trust them and the process they will guide you through to divine and define your brand.

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With Melissa, the first step is to start a Pinterest board. “Approach it with your mind open’”, she said “look for images, fonts and designs that you like because of their style, texture or colour”. Sounded easy enough so I got to pinning… The more I pinned the more inconsistent it looked to me but Melissa is fantastic at seeing the story. It’s like she can read the tea leaves of my brand cup.

We then had a merry journey around the wonderful world of fonts. It’s a bit mad for a while, everywhere you look all you see is fonts and I was constantly trying to surmise what a company’s fonts expressed about them. However my advice with all of this is don’t overthink it. A good designer will breathe energy into fonts and bring out things that you would never see… Same as a good photographer is drawn to composition and light.

Then we came to colour… My Pinterest was mostly black/grey/white and again I was finding it hard to commit to any one colour beyond those tones. I felt like I was looking at all of Tinder at once and trying to find my ideal man. So instead of being over analytical, I just looked at what I was wearing that day. My favourite neon peach belt… Melissa has an amazing app on her phone called Kuler from Adobe that scans items and comes up with the digital version of the colour. So now we were rocking.

A lot of my pins also featured halftones, where an image is made up of dots. I guess that overall, I wanted an editorial feel but not in the high end fashion magazine sense. I’m way more grungy than that. I started to see my brand more like a lookbook for my work with an influence from the magazines that I read. I loved The Face when it was still around plus Love magazine, I-D, Dazed & Confused so it made sense to channel some of those elements into the new brand.

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The Magic Wand

Gothic Bride Shoot Devlin Photos

The New Year… already? How did that happen? Have you noticed a dramatic increase in enquiries now that the festivities are over with? If you have done your marketing homework like I suggested in this Green Room article on getting your New Year marketing in place, then you might be all set up with a prime ad in a juicy spot on a blog and are just scooping up all those panic bookers, right?

What? It’s not quite working out like that? Really? But didn’t you book the Magic Wand Ad where all you have to do is make it pretty, pay the rate and then it all magically happens? I’m sorry to break it to you but marketing your business takes a bit more effort than that.

At Photography Farm, we spend quite a bit of time talking about marketing. We form strategies and look at the different advertising options available for photographers. Quite a few folk think that I’m going to tell them exactly how I do my marketing and then they can just copy that… but there are a few things wrong with that. First up, you are not me and you do not have the same business as me. I have a very specific ideal client and I only want to shoot 20 weddings a year in a certain price bracket. Therefore I have a very specific marketing plan that reflects exactly this. This is going to be a very different plan to someone just starting out, charging a lot less than me and wanting to shoot a lot more weddings. Your market is different, so is your ideal client and your goals for any one year. The other difference between me and the people who attend the farm is that wedding photography is only 50% of my business and income.

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From the outside it might seem that all I do is run an ad on Rock n Roll Bride and I am all set up with a bevy of potential clients that I can pick and choose from. Now it is true that the only place that I currently advertise is here and it is a large part of my marketing. I choose to run an ad all year so that couples can always find me on the homepage. It works really well for me because my very specific target market will be inspired by reading Rock n Roll Bride. They trust Kat and her judgement so are way more likely to click on an ad and book their photographer, than Google ‘alternative wedding photographer’ and book whoever ranks highest.

With all the SEO trickery that goes on, a lot of us no longer trust that Google will provide us with a good match for emotive services such as weddings. You wouldn’t marry the first man that match.com throws at you, would you? By going through a blogger that they trust, it is like going through a matchmaker instead.

But like I said, this is very far from being a magic wand and it amazes me how time and time again photographers will book an ad on a blog, pay good money and then fail to make the best of it.

Here are some tricks to getting the best out of your marketing campaign:

Where to put the advert

An ad on a wedding blog can be fantastic, clients only have to click through to your site and Bob is your photography uncle… right? But you could be chucking your money into the wind if the blog has too many sponsors, especially all from the same type of businesses. I had an ad on Style Me Pretty for three months and it sure did cost me a pretty penny but I got bugger all from it. Not only was my ad lost in a sea of many others, they also flashed in rotation so you were never guaranteed to be on the page at all.

If there is a feeling that any old company can advertise on a site, again the trust goes down. Look for a well curated collection of ads that are visually appealing and don’t look as if they are just thrown together. As an advertiser, it is preferable not to be competing with lots and lots of ads and to not be lumped in with some badly designed ones.

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The design of your ad

That gets me onto the design of your ad. You are nearly always limited to a super small amount of pixels and it’s easy not to make the most of it. Kat has some awesome tips here that will help you get this bit right.

Make sure the blog is appropriate for your target market

Is it a good match to your style? Does it appeal to you? If you connect with the design of a blog then so will your ideal client. If you don’t want to shoot all over the UK then a national blog may not be right for you. There are several county specific wedding blogs now and they will be pretty accessible on cost because their traffic numbers are lower and their readers more niche.

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What’s Your USP?

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These days it seems that branding is the hot topic within the wedding industry, especially for photographers. We certainly discuss it quite a lot at Photography Farm and we are very lucky to have photographer’s brand expert Melissa Love join us to share her expertise. When I first started shooting weddings, brand simply wasn’t an issue. It was enough to take good photographs and make sure that you were found in the right places. However there has never been more wedding photographers competing against each other for potential business, so of course branding can be one of the elements that can help us to stand out.

But what about a USP? Before working on your brand, have you given any thought to it? I don’t hear people using this term any more, it’s kind of fallen out of fashion along with shoulder pads and pagers. Yet if we all defined our USPs before looking at branding, it would be much more likely that we’d each end up with much more unique brands and websites. These days it seems like there are way to many companies with very similar website designs.

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Seven Easy Tips For Creating an Amazing About Page Inspired by Online Dating

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Almost every photographer I know hates writing their About Me page. I confess, I used to be the same. I can merrily write about anything else but writing directly about myself makes me C R I N G E. I’m putting a cushion over my head now just thinking about it. If you feel the same then think about it this way… your About Me is just like an online dating profile. You’re trying to attract potential clients – but more than that, the ideal match of client for you.

Next to the homepage, the About section of your website will be the most frequently viewed on your site. If a potential client likes your work they’ll next want to know a little bit more about the person behind the lens. One of the worst things you can do is leave this part out. Couples have a lot of choice when it comes to their wedding photographer, so they will more than likely end up booking one that they feel a connection with. According to the amazing wedding industry resource Think Splendid, 45% of couples with premium wedding budgets say the possibility of becoming friends with their wedding professionals factors into deciding who to hire.

Unfortunately there are not many places you can go to for inspiration on how or what to write on an About page. In fact so many people simply look at what their competitors have written and cobble together something similar. I also frequently hear about wedding suppliers posting direct copies from other people’s sites – which seems crazy… more than anything else on your site, your About Me needs to be 100% authentic. I guess it is sheer panic that leads newbies to tactics like this. After all, it’s not very British to want to toot your own horn is it?

When it came to writing my About page I started to think about online dating profiles…. there are loads of resources out there designed at helping singles write a decent one so let’s steal a few tips from them instead.

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Tip #1 Get dressed up

It sounds weird but if you sit down to write in your PJs with unbrushed hair, you’re unlikely to get in the professional zone. Putting on a suit might be too extreme but your favourite top and a squiz of perfume will immediately put you in a better frame of mind to write creatively.

Tip #2 Have a great profile picture

You may be a photographer because you prefer to hide behind the lens or a designer because you like to be behind a computer, but you must must must have a decent photo of yourself attached to your profile. People relate to faces so show yours!

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Why I’m NOT Giving Up…..

crown and glory Kat Alexa Loy-47

Sheesh, I have recently seen sooooo many rants on the internet from photographers giving up because they find it too tough to cut it as a wedding photographer or they are sick of competing with the newbies who “under cut their prices/ don’t know what they’re doing/ use vintage processing/ are ruining the industry”. So here is my two pennies worth… first up a little history.

I started working as a photographer in the early 1990s first in music and then from 2000, the majority of my work has been in weddings. I am still as thrilled to earn my living in this way as I ever was, still as excited about each and every job, from the simple engagement shoot I did in the sunshine on Brighton Beach last night, to the look book that I shot for a collaboration between Rock n Roll Bride and Crown & Glory. I will NEVER tire of taking photographs or being in such a privileged position that people trust me to record their memories on one of the most important days of their lives. I will always be on a quest to take THE perfect photograph that sums up a wedding day.

crown and glory Kat Alexa Loy-99

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Addicted to the Busy

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Are you always busy? When that group email or Facebook event invite gets sent your way, are you never able to go because you have to work?

Weddings are a weird industry, everyone knows that you work a lot of weekends but then it is also expected that you are contactable first thing Monday morning. If your marketing campaign has been successful and the bookings are healthy, you may well find that suddenly weeks and weeks are stretching in front of you with no proper break. Every wedding you take on has a significant amount of admin and for us photographers, there is that mountain of post production. Throw in a few double or even triple header weekends and that mountain can quickly become Everest.

The business is yours and so it’s quite normal to want to manage every aspect of it. There are also certain things you definitely can’t outsource, but if you look at the situation objectively, do you think you could actually be addicted to being so busy?

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