Best of Blogs – Issue 14 ~ Jasmine Star

I couldn’t believe it when Jasmine Star first emailed me. I got a little bit fan-girly and squealed down the phone to my friend a little bit. So needless to say when it came to writing this month’s Best of Blogs article there was only one lady I wanted to write about. I am literally honoured to have her on these pages with me. The woman is such and inspiration and I heart her. A lot.

My virtual love affair with Jasmine Star began this summer when I watched a video recording of a seminar she’d held which was called ‘The importance of branding and its vitality in the wedding industry.’ After watching it, the way I viewed by own brand and business was literally changed forever. A dramatic admission maybe, but that’s how motivating her one-hour teaser video was: I ended up blogging about it, and I thoroughly recommend that you take a look. http://www.rocknrollbride.com/2010/06/a-sunday-kind-of-love-jasmine-star-being-free-to-succeed

For my part I immediately started to make big decisions about how and where to move forward with my own business. I was so blown away in fact, that I just had to email her right away and tell her.

I’d heard about this ‘Free to Succeed’ tour (available to purchase in full, on DVD from http://getit.davidjay.com) on a photographic forum and was encouraged by everyone’s positive comments to check it out for myself. Initially I was sceptical. I’ve never been one to sign up for training courses or be swayed by motivational speakers, however within the first 10 minutes I was hooked. Jasmine spoke with such passion and with such an infectious style, that even though the talk was directed towards photographers and their branding, I was finding myself relating everything she said to my own business.

So how does this bring us to talking about Jasmine Star the blogger? Well as many of you may already know, she not only markets herself as a photographer, but as a professional blogger too – her blog, her website, her personality and her photography are all critical to the Jasmine Star brand. All of these aspects work together to create brand “J*”, and in such a natural and organic way that you actually don’t see how it happened. This is something we can all learn from.

“I have been persuaded to believe that if a person wants to become a brand, the first place to start is with him/herself, “ she explains. “The cornerstone of a boutique brand relies on a strong sense of self-identity – who a person is both professionally and personally.  When the foundation of a brand is based on an identity, it becomes easier to build the brand and attract the type of clients a photographer prefers.”

Jasmine started blogging in early 2006 and shot her first solo wedding in October of the same year. As a self-confessed newbie, who had no idea what she was doing and who simply wanted to learn to take beautiful photographs, she admits to starting the blog to “document her failures.” This humble and honest approach is something she hasn’t lost over the years, and with all her ‘fame’ (although she’ll kill me for saying that!) within the worldwide photography community, she continues to remain humble and oh-so grateful to everyone who reads and comments on her blog, attends her workshops  and of course books her to shoot their weddings.

“I actually started my blog as a way to document my failure.  Because, really, I was going to fail.  This whole photography thing I was pursuing?  Yeah, well, I was simply dreaming big and I wanted a way to document the journey.  I fully thought things wouldn’t work and I’d end up back in law school.  I started with a blogger blog and while I wrote about my photography struggles, I also wrote about my life.  What I ate for dinner, how I celebrated Valentine’s Day, life with my new puppy.  Ridiculous stuff I thought no one would read.  But then they did.  Read it, that is.  Yes, a few people were interested in the photography, but, mostly, people connected with the story.  At the risk of sounding cliché, people liked reading about the journey, more than the destination.”

Unlike a few other ‘rock star’ photographers out there, in my opinion Jasmine is 100% open and honest on her blog – about herself and her weddings. She doesn’t shy away from writing about an embarrassing situation or how scared she is about something she has to do. In fact so open and honest is this woman, that in August of this year she held an online workshop (which was free to watch live on the internet) where she not only answered questions from Twitter, but she shot a wedding LIVE in front of an audience of thousands.

Blogging  Everything
The next and maybe most important thing we can learn from Jasmine is that she blogs every single one of her weddings and photo shoots. A lot of high profile photographers have been exposed recently for ‘selective blogging’ – i.e. only blogging the beautiful couples or the weddings they feel will get the subsequent bookings. While it is true, your blog can be one of your primary marketing tools, what’s more important – booking the next couple or making your current couple head-over-heels-ecstatic with the way you’ve made them feel?

Jasmine is clearly in the latter camp. “It’s very important for me to convey to my clients how much I value them.  Their trust.  Their vulnerability.  As a professional, it’s my job to create images that I’m proud of…at every shoot.  Sure, there are photo shoots when this is harder than others, but that’s beside the point.  I must work with what I’m given and produce quality work.”  

“If I didn’t blog all my sessions, I believe it would inadvertently translate to those clients that either they weren’t pretty/photogenic/perfect/strong/likeable/etc.  That’s the last thing I want to do.  My clients aren’t models, but it’s my job to make them feel like they are…and hopefully get pictures we’re proud of along the way.”

With over 17,000 followers on Twitter (growing daily!) and hordes of fans all over the world, you might think it’d be easy for Jasmine to let it all go to her head. However this is so not the case. Her realism and openness (in the words of the lady herself, “K.I.R” – Keep it Real!) is what, I believe has made Jasmine Star the superstar she is today. She is aspirational but she is approachable; she is successful but she is humble; she is confident but she is thankful – ultimately she is personable and totally and utterly real.

“Blogging is a unique way to create differentiation on the web.  I’m not different because I shoot with the Canon 5DMII…because I edit on a Mac computer…because I use certain photoshop actions.  All those things make me the same as others.  Creating a personal identity on the web is powerful, but it builds momentum via personalization.  And a blog achieves exactly this.”

So, how can we learn from Jasmine’s success, without attempting to create a carbon copy? K.I.R!  Be yourself, be personable on your blog, connect with your audience and your clients and be grateful for every single one of them. Blog your couples, not because you think their photographs will further your career, but because you want to make them feel like rock stars. People will see this realism and who you really are, and hopefully some of them might even like what they see!

“My blog acts as archival marketing.  Which is awesome!  Sure my clients love visiting the blog after I post their photos, but the best part of the blog is that if, say, a year down the line one of my brides’ co-workers just got engaged, she can quickly go back to my blog, pull up her wedding post, display her pictures and slideshow, and recount her experience in real time.  This.is.priceless.”

www.jasmine-star.com
www.jasminestarblog.com
www.twitter.com/jasminestar

21 comments

  1. That online seminar was so massively helpful to me back in the summer, you posted it at the exact time I was trying to figure out how I might go about turning this hobby into a business and wondering where the hell to start. Thanks to that I started by thinking ‘what is it that makes me and what I do different?’ emailed a handful of closest friends asking them lots of deep and random questions and began to build a picture of ‘Amy the brand’ (I’ve just realised this makes me sound like a wanky apprentice wannabe – GAH!) and from there my new online identity was born.

    So thanks MASSIVELY Kat and Jasmine – you’re both Stars!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this stellah blog:) awesome article! I just began my photography blog. I’ve been a chicken & scrambling to create something of substance for personally portraying myself. This post made a few things clear to me. Thank you for that. I don’t really mind if the Johanna B Blog is left ‘undiscovered’- I have not been selectively posting my photos (still trying to get caught up on the photo posting part…) Then the line, “My blog acts as archival marketing… This.is.priceless.” HECK YES! That’s why I created the blog. So here’s to archiving! 🙂

    Happy weekend!
    ~Johanna B

  3. What a great article! I find lots of inspiration from Jasmine, and am astounded to see the similarities between the way she started out and the way I started (am starting??) out. If she can do it, then I can do it, too. Thanks Jasmine, and Rock ‘n Roll Bride for posting this and giving us yet another glimpse into a successful photographer!

  4. Mavi

    I absolutely love Jasmine and your captured her perfectly in your article. I was one of the contestants who tried to shoot a live wedding. I didn’t win, but still learned so much through those videos. I admire her and if I am 10% as good as her someday, I’d be in heaven! Glad I came across your blog!

  5. Jasmine rocks.period. Her blog was one of the first blogs I found and her workshop and her personal motivation has changed my business, dramatically. I owe her so much and if it wasn’t for her blog, I don’t think I would be where I am now. 😉 much love 😉

  6. excellent article.

    Jasmine is awesome. I watched her interviewed by Chase Jarvis and the info given up was just priceless. Loved the “there is no wrong way of doing things” part of the interview. Search it out and give it a watch.

  7. Great post. Its good to see it put out there about blogging everything rather than just about the select “beautiful” clients. I am a strong advocate for blogging every session and would hate to think what my client’s would think not seeing their photos on my blog.

  8. Just watched the Jasmine Star video… I am so making a collection of things I like, ready to rebrand… very inspirational ! I can totally relate to her!

  9. I stumbled across J*’s site when Googling something or other earlier this year and very quickly realised a blog is site with changing content is far more important than a static site with a selection of your best images. For me it’s meant blog site only is the way forward.

  10. Kat, a great article and blog post about the ever amazing J*! We had the opportunity to see her speak at EscalateLive last May and purchased her wedding photography genius with CreativeLive. I love the fact that we can learn and share in such a quick dynamic manner these days. This is the time to be in this industry. Loving you and your brand! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  11. She is so inspirational, not only for her amazing photography but her whole positive attitude and mentality. Every client deserves to be treated the same and her approach typifies this. Potential clients want to see real weddings not just ones that look like they have been posed by models. All photographers can learn from her.

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