The Right Branding for You – Pittsburgh Personal Branding Photography

Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-3It’s been super exciting to see the Personal Branding trend really take off. Gone are the days of boring, traditional, totally “meh” head shots (good riddance) and here to grow is the new style of really infusing a healthy dose of your own personality and daily grind into your visual marketing. And that, my friends, is Personal Branding.

In today’s fast-paced-I-want-it-now kinda world, you have but a moment, a blink of an eye really, to catch a potential client’s interest and even that interest can be quite fickle. You gonna leave that to a tightly-cropped, arms-crossed-why-so-serious head shot? I think not.

Remember this when starting your venture into branding: People only care about what they are going to get from you. The trick to successful branding is how you deliver THAT information. This is the kind of moment when you have to consider your branding from your clients’ perspectives.

They say that “Personal Branding is what people say about your after you leave the room.” So, you must then consider: what do you want them saying about you?

So how do you know what you need? Well, your first step is finding someone to help you sort that out. I photographed this lovely, sassy brunette you see a few months ago when I helped her launch her own brand. We talked about what she wanted to convey, what her hobbies and inspirations were and I came up with Oprah. Yep–Oprah. I saw her in a light and flower-drenched room that spilled out comfort, family, friends and home to anyone who saw it. Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-15raemie biz cardAnd then she realized she wanted to take it to a higher level and include her assistant. So, we came up with some new concepts, put wardrobe and locations together and here we have it (this is the first time they’re seeing a peek of these photos. Woot!)Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-1Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-9Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-5Real Estate Personal Branding Head Shots-1Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-6Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-11Real Estate Personal Branding Head Shots-2Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-4Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-8Pittsburgh Branding Photographer-10
So, what can I do as a photographer to help you with your branding? Let’s explore…

Do I still offer head shots? Yes. But they are my style and my style is artful, personable and real. Know how you’ll know if your clientele will respond well to your visual marketing? If you also kinda want to put them in your home (although…I doubt Raemie and Shannon want photos of the two of them together in their homes…but you get the point). If you love your photos so much you believe they could be in your home as part of your decor, that’s how you know your branding photos are personable and real for your clients as well. That’s my type of head shot style.

Do I offer different levels of service? You betcha. We talk. We brainstorm. We figure it out together. And based on what you tell me, I’m going to be able to put together a level of service that’s right for you. I offer everything from simple head shots, to more personalized sessions that include hair and makeup, collaboration on direction and mood, to full on, whole sha-bang, design, direct, coordinate, shop and pull it all together and re-emerge to your knew world in your new kickass “Hear me ROAR” persona (which is what you see in this post). And this can include all facets of your life. Kids, dating profiles, business, pleasures…etc. There is no limit here.

Will I help you figure out what you need? Yes. The real question is, will you listen. Almost every single person I photograph thinks they only need one or two photographs of themselves.

Them: “I really only need one photograph for my website. That’s it. I really don’t want to pay for a big shoot that I simply do not need.”

Me: “OK. So you only need one photograph for your website? Do you only market through your website?”

Them: “Well…no. I also market through Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.”

Me: “OK. Which of those platforms bring you the most success for your business? Which brings you the most business?”

Them: “Oh…um…Facebook”

Me: “Gotcha. And do you do a newsletter or any other marketing?”

Them: “Yes…I do a monthly newsletter, quarterly brochures and e-brochures, holiday newsletters and ads via social media like Facebook.”

Me: “So…..”

Them: “I see what you’re saying.”

OR I get this: “Right, I know. I need a lot more than I thought I did but I just don’t have the money right now. I don’t want to spend a lot right now.”

Me: “OK–can you tell me how much you spent on your website, blog, marketing materials and miscellaneous items for marketing?”

Them: “Probably around $10,000 or so.”

Me: “And how’s that working for you without having really good visual marketing of yourself? And what do you consider would be “spending too much” on damn good kickass photography that will give you at least 2 to 3 years of use, and reuse, and reuse and reuse?”

Them: “I see what you’re saying”

Or, they just stick to their guns, come in for “one” photograph and end up spending way more than one of my packages because they loved so many of their photographs because they “had no idea this is what they would look like”. Yeah. I know.

Listen, yes…it is only in my best interest to sell you more. The more money I make, the more margaritas I get to drink poolside at some hum-dinger of a resort while counting seagulls and calling out to that adorable pool boy to bring me another drink. This is true. But what is not in my best interest is to have you walk away feeling like I influenced you to do something you don’t want or need. Because what are you going to say to the next person you talk to that is thinking of re-branding and needs photography? Exactly. So, you can either trust me and partner up with my brain and go for the ride and allow me to help you, or mistrust me, think you know better and wind up spending more than if you had listened to me in the first place. Feelin’ me here??

Do you help with locations, wardrobe and session design? Yeppers. If that’s the package you pick, I am allllll yours. Like I said, you can go from just showing up and snapping a few off, to making me your new Personal Branding, Life Branding, Dating Branding, Professional Branding BFF. We can even get matching bracelets, on me.

Regardless of where you are in your business persona, considering a re-brand or getting another brain in there to offer up some new ideas just may not be a bad idea. When you’re ready for your first step into the world of branding yourself in a personal way, I’ll be right here waiting for you.

Concept design, creative direction, wardrobe & photography: Moi, of course
Shannon’s hair and makeup styling: At Home BeautyAt Home Beauty
Locations: Brennan Builders at Timber Ridge
Black & pink floral dress on Raemie: Ellen Tracy
Matching black sandal heels on Raemie: Pour la Victoire
Tan dress with pink florals on Shannon: Taylor Dresses
Matching nude shoes on Shannon: Sam Edelman
Blue dress on Shannon: Maggy London
White dress on Raemie: Adrianna Papell
Matching nude shoes on Raemie: Jimmy Choo
Black and white jumper on Raemie: Adrianna Papell
Black and white dress on Shannon: Felicity & Coco
Matching black heels on Shannon: Sam Edelman
White dress on Shannon: Cushnie et Ochs
Matching metallic gold shoes on Shannon: Giuseppe Zanotti
Blush dress on Raemie: Kate Spade
Matching brown cage heels on Raemie: Jimmy Choo
Blush briefcase bag in front of desk: Tory Burch

Stepping Outside of What You Think You Know About YOU – Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer

Portrait & Beauty Photographer
How often do we really take a leap of faith in ourselves? And how often do we unabashedly, guilt-freely invest in ourselves for something that is purely just to feel good about ourselves? I don’t know about you…but it’s not as often as I would like.

But can you remember a time you did? Can you remember how that made you feel? Free? Confident? Happy? Gleeful? Sinnnnnnfully delicious? Damn, it feels so good.

You know what’s even better than that? Pushing yourself to a place you didn’t think you could go, but knowing you wanted to try. That takes courage.

Meet Kelley. She’s a fellow photographer, fitness guru, health nut and general all around awesome woman, mom and wife. She’s so cool, you guys. She’s just lovely, pure and simple. Her photography style is more lifestyle, real and natural..and these are words I would use to describe her style as well. Kelley has a down-to-earth realness about her that is raw and beautiful. She wanted that to come out in her photos.

Then she emailed me visuals of her direction with wardrobe…and I threw them out. They were too “real”. They were too “everyday”. They were not going to push her at all…and if you know me at all…c’mon…need I say more??

I asked if she was open to my suggestions. She said she trusted me, and folks, let me just say, we made magic. I didn’t give her one hint of what I had in mind because I didn’t know if she’d push back. So, I decided the element of surprise was the way to go. And it worked!! She loved my ideas. She was so open to allowing me to direct every inch of this shoot. And this, coming from a fellow photographer, is big. It’s also stressful. I mean…what if I screw it up?? What if I can’t break through because this is what she does for a living too?

Yep–and about 5 minutes in each other’s company, well, let me just say it was kismet. It was as if we’d known each other for years. And that’s the beginning I’m hoping for. We even threw in a quickie set at the end that just SCREAMED “Kelley”. I wanted that for her because, at the end of the day, no matter how far you push yourself and no matter how gorgeous the photos are…you still just need some fun, fabulous photos of the real YOU. Can you guess which ones they are??

She just came in for her Reveal. She was SO THRILLED with her photos. I, of course, bit my nails off till I knew she loved them as much as I did. We agreed: we did it. Together.

MAN, I just love when that happens.Beauty & Portrait Photographer-3Beauty & Portrait Photographer-1Beauty & Portrait Photographer-4Beauty & Portrait Photographer-2Beauty & Portrait Photographer-5Beauty & Portrait Photographer-9Beauty & Portrait Photographer-6Beauty & Portrait Photographer-7Beauty & Portrait Photographer-8Beauty & Portrait Photographer-13Beauty & Portrait Photographer-11Beauty & Portrait Photographer-12Beauty & Portrait Photographer-14Beauty & Portrait Photographer-15Beauty & Portrait Photographer-16Beauty & Portrait Photographer-10Beauty & Portrait Photographer-17Beauty & Portrait Photographer-20Beauty & Portrait Photographer-18Beauty & Portrait Photographer-19Beauty & Portrait Photographer-21Beauty & Portrait Photographer-22Beauty & Portrait Photographer-23Beauty & Portrait Photographer-24

And yes…this last one? You’ve seen it before, likely on Pinterest. Kelley wanted to try this so bad and who am I to say no? I think it turned out pretty cool!

Blue & black dress: Preoenza Schouler
Striped button down shirt: Rachel Comey
Trumpet gown: Rubin Singer
Clear peep toe bootie: Steve Madden
Black romper: studio wardrobe
High-necked blouse: studio wardrobe

Makeover by At Home Beauty.

Branding Yourself in a Personal Way – Pittsburgh Personal Branding Photographer

Personal Branding Head Shots Pittsburgh-6Long gone are the head shots of the past. Well, ok…they’re still around but let’s ignore them enough that they’re shamed into disappearing forever. Who’s with me?

I have said before that we women are storytellers at heart and that’s how we reach each other (that and starting a phone chain when there’s a good sale at Nordstrom). We bond by becoming personal with one another. Ever have that “friend” that you just can’t break that barrier with? They don’t share, they don’t let their guard down and they just won’t let you past their cozy exterior, simply brick-walling you from ever getting to know them, truly. On the other side of that, ever been out doing something and strike up a random conversation with a random woman and before you know it, you’re sitting at a coffee shop trading tears about something you have in common that you just had to share with each other? You’ve been there, I know it. And maybe not this story exactly, but some version of it.

It’s because we crave personal, intimate, deep conversation about one another. Why? Because inherently we women want to know we are not alone. Our struggles are completely different than men’s and that’s why, even if your husband is your absolute most bestestestestest friend, he can’t be everyone and everything to you…hence your gal pals.

This goes for purchasing material goods, vacations, experiences…you name it. Women are more likely to buy something or an experience if there is a story they can relate to when searching for that purchase. We want to feel something, and that is a really really good thing…it’s what makes us women.

So, it’s no surprise that “head shots” have now morphed into what we now know as “personal branding”. Did you notice I didn’t call it “professional branding”? We know that’s what it really is, but “personal” is the key term here. If you read any of what I wrote above, you know exactly why.

And you know what? I’m good at it. I’m really good at bringing a personal touch to my photography. Funny, happy, sultry, powerful, seductive. For personal branding, it’s a matter of catching someone’s true personality and (hopefully) emanating a sense of trust when you see the person in the photo.

Even if you don’t know this woman in these photos, she looks fun, down to earth, professional yet personable. She looks like you and me, and that makes her real to you. If you’re trying to sell something or trying to get people to buy whatever experience you’re offering, this is so important.

And can I tell you, I love this. When I buy a major purchase (or even little purchases at times) or an experience, I want to know the person on the other end not only understands me, but is going to care about my purchase from them and take care of me.

I’d like to think when women come to me, this is how they feel about me. It’s a little easier for me to get this across to women because my job is visual and, for my blog, written. For most folks, you get one shot when someone sees your photograph and is deciding on whether to choose you or the woman/guy in the photo next to you.

Wanna leave that to your iPhone selfie? I think not…Personal Branding Head Shots Pittsburgh-2Personal Branding Head Shots Pittsburgh-5Personal Branding Head Shots Pittsburgh-1Personal Branding Head Shots Pittsburgh-4Personal Branding Head Shots Pittsburgh-3Makeover by At Home Beauty.

Frolicking in a Cemetery

Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-2And that’s what we did.

I kind of introduced you to this day of shooting with Julia Erickson, a principal ballerina with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. I’m holding off on what we did in the studio and can’t wait to share the film with you, but for now, I wanted to put a few photos up of these 2 sets inside the cemetery.

It was all so ethereal and the locations were just incredible (big thanks to Joey Kennedy for showing us around). I was so excited to use my Petzval lens as well as the pinhole lens because I get to use them so rarely. What’s the difference, you ask? Well the 2nd and 8th photo below was taken with the pinhole lens. It’s basically a lens cap with the teensiest of all holes in the center. You need a tripod (which I didn’t have…I’m a human tripod, I always say), tons of light and some patience because you can’t see what you’re photographing until you take the photo and can look on the back of your screen, then adjust for light and composition. It gives the appearance of an old photo and is quite grainy and almost has a painted look. The 4th photo below was taken with the Petzval 85mm lens. It’s a manual focus lens and gives the effect of swirling, or bokeh, around the upper and lower portions of the photograph. Again–the appeal is a painted quality and hopefully comes off as artful. The other photos were taken with my 24-70mm, with added blur on the edges.

Are your eyes glazed over yet? Hee hee…I won’t blame you…

It really was such a gorgeous day. The sun was stunning and the glow through the trees was a gift. Julia was likely one of the easiest and most fun subjects I had the pleasure of playing with all over the place. Gosh just look at her….how could you not take amazing photographs of her??

Special huge thank you’s to Mt. Lebanon Floral for the amazing florals and At Home Beauty for such creative hair and makeup. So wonderful to work with such talent.

Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-3Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-7Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-8Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-1Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-6Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-9DSC-200_pp_ppPittsburgh Portrait Photographer-15Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer-5Photography & creative direction & wardrobe styling: Me, silly
Hair & makeup: At Home Beauty
Florals: Mt. Lebanon Floral
Model: Julia Erickson
White bodysuit: Victoria’s Secret
Blush bodysuit: Forever 21
Both skirts: handmade my me.