The Unexpected Engagement Shoot

My friend Nolan and I were in Chicago on Saturday, March 26, doing some shoots around the city. We were there for quite a while already and were getting close to wrapping up the shoot.

As we were walking to our next spot, a man approached us asking us to take a photo of his and his girlfriend with his phone. As he handed over the phone to us, he reached back in his coat and pulled out a box. He looked at us and told us he was about to get engaged. What he didn't know was that I am a photographer and that he was about to get some nice photos taken with his phone and with my camera.

He turned around, Nolan and I got ready to take the photos, he knelt down to one knee, and his girlfriend soon to be fiance was blown away; she was very happy and surprised.

It's really cool that my friend and I were walking in the spot when the guy was minutes away from asking his girlfriend to marry him. I wish them the best and congratulate them for this wonderful engagement.

 

- Javy Esquivel

 

Four Visual Branding Techniques for Social Media

1. Colors. Choose a consistent set of colors to represent your brand. Google uses blue, yellow, red, and green in its logo and all its marketing materials. Pick colors that reflect your brand. Google's playful vibe lends itself to splashes of bright colors. For color palette inspiration, pay a visit to Designspiration. Color selector Kuhler is also handy for generating color combo ideas.

2. Fonts. Your font choice also says a lot about your brand. IKEA uses a bold font in capital letters in its logo. The North Face uses Helvetica. So does American Apparel. And many others, too. But there as many fonts as there are personalities. Check out Google Web Fonts for inspiration. Its font pairing suggestions are handy for your brand's marketing materials.

3. Imagery. The imagery you use conveys a lot about your brand. Do you have access to your own image library or are you looking for stock photography? Choose imagery that fits your brand, whether it's authentic imagery or more-traditional stock photography. Use the same photo filter on any photos you post.

4. Layout. Do you have a template for your social media posts? Is your logo positioned the same way each time it's used? Coming up with a style guide will help make sure all the elements of your brand work in harmony. Mailchimp's branding guidelines are a helpful example.

With the power of visual branding at your fingertips, you'll be creating incredible graphics in no time. What design techniques have you tried with your brand? How has it helped your brand?

Branding Your Photography Business: Logos

What’s in a Logo?

It’s hard to argue against the importance of a logo. In non-visual fields it’s often what buyers first identify with in a brand. In the photo industry it plays second fiddle to your images, but it’s still an important visual cue and tie-together for your clients.

A logo is best when it is a written or designed representation of the style of your work. Whether you’re an edgy fashion, luxury travel, flirtatious lifestyle or classic wedding photographer your logo should have a distinct connection with your style. Think how silly it would feel for an edgy fashion photographer to have a Comic Sans font as their logo. Apply that same font type to the flirtatious lifestyle photographer, and it just may work.

Different font treatments and designs evoke a certain emotional response from us. I can’t say I know the science behind it, but I’m sure you could easily point out a design that had a classy feel to one that had a whimsical feel without any training either. You don’t have to be a typophile to know how a font makes you feel when you see it.

Logos can be as simple as your name in a certain font or as elaborate as a multi-font, multi-color, iconographic and artfully designed branding display. The choice is up to you, but generally you’ll find logos vary a bit between the commercial and wedding industries. The reason for this is because different audiences prefer different styles. Commercial photographers usually have logos as simple as their name in a specific font, with perhaps a design element or two thrown in. Wedding photographers often vary from simple fonts to elaborate graphics and designs.

Check out this list of logo examples from both commercial and wedding photographers. Notice how their logos closely resemble the feel of their style of photography and come together to emphasize their brand.

Agency Designed Logo

For photographers really looking for the full treatment and a well-thought brand design, the best way to go is with a professional and reputable design, marketing or ad agency. These are companies ranging from three to hundreds of individuals who specialize in creating identifiable brands. It does come at a cost though, but in my personal experience I’ve found the investment to be absolutely worth it.

There are a lot of benefits to working with a design agency. First and foremost is working with a team of professionals who are constantly creating branding for a variety of clients. Even if your work is designated to a less experienced or newer hire at an agency, it passes by several eyes and receives input a few times before it ever reaches you. If you can, try to find an agency in your area that has worked with photographers in the past, or other creative professionals. Agencies often specialize with clients in specific industries. Those who work with photographers usually know better what we’re looking for (and what attracts clients) in our industry.

When you’re shopping around, you can talk to multiple agencies and receive a few estimates to compare them. Don’t just look at the final price tag each quotes you, but also pay attention to what comes along with it. Things to look for are how many design revisions you get before you’re charged for extras, what the final deliverables are and any consultations. I recommend working with an agency that sits down for a consultation before working with you, to understand the direction you want to take your brand and any ideas you may have.

When I finally made the decision to work with an agency, I went with the creative team over at The James Agency. I’ve known people there for a few years, had seen a lot of their fantastic recent work and was happy they were willing to meet for an initial consult. I wanted a new brand clients could identify with that was fun enough to fit the style of my images, yet simple enough not to dominate. Together, they honed down just the right look for me that I could use across a number of mediums (website, biz cards, promos, etc). The feedback I’ve gotten has been tremendous, and it has really helped tie together my brand. Definitely a big improvement over my DIY logo.

It doesn’t just happen on the first try though. We took several revisions to get just the right look. Take a look here at the options and progressions we worked through when designing my logo. From a variety of looks to narrowing down the right style and then working through color treatments. Expect to go through the very same process.

Logo Summary

So whether you’re working on your first DIY logo, hiring a freelancer or collaborating with an agency, make sure you do your homework and know what kind of feel you want your brand to project alongside your images. First and foremost, keep working to make your images as good as possible. Remember, great branding only helps give you that little extra edge, it can never take the place of the quality of your images.

Mark, My Friend

I've been shooting for Morton's football team for 2 seasons going into my third this coming season. Over those 2 years,  I've been befriended by the team and have developed nothing but a good relationship with the team and coaches.

The first season I shot, I was the new guy. The guy with the camera that shot every play, every touchdown, and every win or loss. I got to know the varsity team well. Though I shot and still shoot for the varsity, I did my best to get to know as much of the JV team as possible. 

My the second season shooting photos for them, I was already established with them; I was their camera man and still am. 

I wasn't able to get to know Kash as well as I would have liked, but he did play well out on the field.

This season, I had the opportunity to know the Skipper brothers better. I knew of them the season prior and started to get acquainted with Mike, but this past season, I got to know both of them better. Mike and Mark are very easy going. 

Mark was out of the season due to an injury, but was there at the games on the sidelines. Thats where I go to know him a bit more. During each game, he would ask to see the latest shot I took. I'd show him a few between plays, and he would always stop after looking at a few photos from the back of my camera and say, "I wish I was out there right now." I'd chuckle and say, "Maybe for the playoffs." "I hope so." He would say. "If not, you always have next year." "Yeah."

Unfortunately that never came. Saturday morning I woke up to a text from a friend of mine with a link. I opened it not knowing what it was, and I couldn't believe it. Too soon. Too young. Too fast. I double checked the sources to see if it was in fact real; unfortunately it was.

Mark, the little time I was able to know you at the games, you gave it your best on the field, and when you were on the sidelines, you did what you could to help the team. I'm glad I got to know you this past season, and I know you will be greatly missed and remembered by your family and friends. Rest in peace Mark.

7 Killer Tips for Logo Design

1. Be unique and clever

A logo is what helps distinguish a brand from its competitors, so it's important that the image stands out from the rest — something many brands struggle with.

Creating a unique design isn't all about avoiding imitation, but also about designing something out-of-the-box. It’s tempting to just throw an industry icon on the page, but it’s important to think creatively. The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an airplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer.

2. Understand the brand

Yes, a logo is an image, but it’s also an introduction to a brand. The logo must reach a specific audience and when designing, you must keep this in mind. Write down what you think about the brand; perhaps even create a mood board with imagery that reminds you of the brand’s ideology — check out websites like Niice for some inspiration. But be wary of becoming inspired by only aesthetics rather than deeper meaning. Researching other visual brands can be helpful, but designers need to be careful not to take the inspirations too literally. Any design work must be original and map directly back to your client’s unique brand attributes.

Is the brand utility-driven or is it more focused on evoking emotion? Is it contemporary or quirky? What does the customer care about, and what does the brand aspire to be? While it is helpful to stay up to date on design trends, it's more vital to stay true to a brand's overarching personality. Here's a quick brand personality evaluation that can help you along the way. 

More than anything, know what your logo means. Every logo has some kind of a history, filled with meaning and purpose. Take Apple, for instance — the fruit is missing a "byte." Or Wikipedia, an unfinished globe of puzzle pieces covered with glyphs from different writing systems. Both logos are simple, but have an added twist that circles back to brand ideology.

 

3. Color is key

When taking the brand’s personality into account, you have to think about every aspect of the image. Bright and bold colors may grab someone's attention, but could also seem brash; muted tones exude sophistication, but could be overlooked. Every color has a different implication and can bring nuance to your message — don't fall into the trap of conveying the wrong message because of a simple brush stroke. The Logo Company released an article "The Science Behind Colors" and an infographic displaying The Psychology of Color in Logo Design. Here’s a quick break-down:

 

  • Red: energetic, sleek, bold 

  • Orange: creative, friendly, youthful

  • Yellow: sunny, inventive, optimism

  • Green: growth, organic, instructional 

  • Blue: professional, medical, tranquil, trustworthy

  • Purple: spiritual, wise, evocative 

  • Black: credible and powerful

  • White: simple, clean, pure

  • Pink: fun and flirty

  • Brown: rural, historical, steady

4. What's in a name?

A logo consists of two elements: A wordmark and a symbol. Before a company can think about solely representing itself with a symbol, a great deal of advertising must be done (think: Starbucks or Mercedes). Some companies choose to stick to Logotype entirely, like Ray-BanCoca-Cola and IBM.

Whether your brand can use a Logotype depends on the kind of name the brand has. If your company has a unique name, then you could get away with a logotype. But if you have a generic name, then you're going to need something to identify the company by, which can be achieved by using a logo mark. And when considering typefaces for your text, be sure to avoid gimmicky fonts, utilize negative space and perhaps tweak an existing font — websites like Font Squirrel or HypeForType are helpful. Some logos even become recognizable because of their custom fonts. Coca-Cola originated the slanted font and now others try to rip them off.

 

When all else fails: Turn to your friend Helvetica, a simple font that has been utilized well by many popular brands, such as NarsTargetCrate & BarrelAmerican Apparel and JCPenney.

5. Keep it easy and flexible

It’s important to have a balanced combination of simple and quirky — you want your logo to be interesting, but you don’t want someone to have to sit and stare, analyzing the logo. A good example is FedEx's logo, a simple Logotype with a twist. The image utilizes negative space to create an arrow which connotes speed, precision and direction. Additionally, the company changes the color of the “Ex” in order to classify the type of shipping. Amazon, too, uses just its name, but also refers to its wide inventory with a small arrow pointing from a → z.

In the digital age, where logos will appear on multiple devices and across social media, you must design something that transcends paper. It must look great on different backgrounds, work for apps, icons, avatars and print, and it must be flexible in size. Take Adidas, a brand that incorporates the same motif of three parallel bars in all of its designs. The visual changes slightly depending on where you see it, but it always contains similar components.

Finding a logo that can still be relevant (or not feel outdated) in a matter of years, or even months, when we don't even know what the web will feel like, seems to be a bit more of a challenge, You want to design something that will last through the ages, but you must be open to small iterations along the way. Most, if not all, brands will create a style guide that lays out exactly how the company should present itself across the web — here are some examples of great design guidelines.

 

6. Don't expect instant success

NikePumaAudi — all iconic logos, but like with anything successful, it took time for these to gain popularity. Logos won’t become instantly iconic, even if you’ve designed the most beautiful combination of vectors. It depends on the product’s success and the market in which it exists. "What you think is your best design might very well be for a local craft store that only people in the nearby area ever see. And the design won’t be classed as iconic because it doesn’t have the reach of multinational businesses  

But what made those iconic logos so wonderful? If you look at how they originated, you see that they derived from a great understanding of brand principles. Nike designer Carolyn Davidson was told to create something that displayed motion and would look good on a shoe — hence, the swoosh; Audi represents the company’s four marques linked together; Puma, a simple visualization of the name, along with a leaping puma.

It's important to be patient and not rush to make changes with your design just because you haven't gotten the reception you initially expected. Don’t change your logo just because you’re tired of it, or because your competitors have. If the time has come to evolve your logo, look for elements that can be carried forward.

7. Use online resources and tools 

There is a vast sea of information online for those who need some inspiration, collaboration or assistance when designing a company logo. 

99designs offers both a Logo Store equipped with unique, hand-vetted logos for those on a tighter budget looking for off-the-shelf ideas, and the site provides an opportunity for more personalized contests where customers are integral to the outcome from the beginning. The website also helps clients make the tough decision between loads of logo submissions. 99designs customers can create a poll of their favorite submissions, and share a link via social networks and email inviting people to vote. Often they’re surprised when the design they were leaning toward doesn’t come out on top! But ultimately, they need to own their decision.

For those who want to design on their own, sites like Logomaker and LogoYesare logo design interfaces that are easy-to-use and free — although, there is a fee to download higher quality versions for print.

My Tech Review: Myo Gesture Armband

The armband works by monitoring the change of muscle movement, which is generated from users’ arm movement and arm gesture. There are various use applications the users can do with Myo, but before we talk about that, let’s talk about some of the features of the armband.

  • Reads the electrical activity of your muscles and the motion of your arm to let you wirelessly control technology with hand gestures

  • Discover applications to control music, games, presentations, and more in the Myo Market Beta

  • Map gestures to your keyboard for customized control

  • Develop with open APIs and free SDK to build solutions for home automation, drones, computer games, virtual reality, and more.

  • Works with Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices through Bluetooth Smart

Design & Build Quality: The Myo Armband has a very technical design, which looks pretty cool when users wear it for the first time. Weighing at about 3 ounce, the armband consists of eight different modules with sensors built-in. These sensors can distinguish different kinds of forearm movements such as fist clenching, arm waving, hands in plain sight, as well as figure movement.

Its built-in gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer, the Myo Armband is capable of measuring the speed and direction of the user’s arm movement. Overall, the Myo Armband has a very great technical looking design and a very solid build quality.

Battery Life: The Myo Armband does not have a button to power on. Instead, users must connect it to their computer or a wall charger through the micro-USB cable to power it on. Once it is powered on, the Myo Armband automatically enters a battery-saving sleep mode when it is idle for a short period of time. It will exit the sleep mode when users pick it up.

Users can also turn Myo off completely by using the Turn Off button in the Armband Manager window of Myo Connect. And to power it back on, users must again connect it to their computer or a wall charger, which is a little troublesome at times.

Myo rated the battery life on the armband to last up to a day of usage on a single charge. We managed to get 1.5 days of usage out of it, which is better than what Myo rated it at.

Features: So far, Myo is compatible with four different operating systems – Windows, OSX, Android and iOS, and will require a Bluetooth connection (it comes with a Bluetooth dongle for laptops without it). To use the Myo Armband, users are required to download the Myo app first. The app will then guide the user through the setup process, which includes the gesture training.

As of now, it seems like it is limited to only five different gestures and two types of motion. The app also allows for the user to adjust the sensitivity of the armband. However, it is sometimes difficult for us to find the perfect sensitivity. At times, the armband tends to register simple gestures such as resting the arm on the hips if it is too sensitive. If we set the sensitivity a little lower, we sometimes have to make a huge gesture to get it to register. Though the app includes learning and adapting processes, we feel like it’s a hit or miss at times. Or maybe, we just need more practice to be proficient.

Last Thoughts: Myo is a great start, although it is limited by the amount of gestures and motion. Having said that, the sensors are likely capable of more, and it can already control a ton of devices using a ton of applications. Additionally, the Myo Armband is very responsive, looks awesome, and comfortable to wear. The only problem we had was the hit or miss gesture registration, which should be fixable with updated firmware. Myo also has an open API as well, so new integration will be released in the future, and the device’s range of uses will continue to expand over time. As we said, this is only the beginning for Myo.

The Myo Armband can be purchased through Myo.

We will be giving away a Myo Armband this week! stay tuned on our instagram at @short_pro_media for details on how to win!

 

Marketing Techniques for Photographers

  1. Make lots of new friends and be generous:
    The people that I meet now, I make it a point to find out what interests them, what their passions are, what resources do I have that could benefit them.
    I rarely turn down a conversation anymore, you never know who is a person of influence, or where your relationship will go.
  2. Begin relationships with Wedding Coordinators and Venues:
    While Coordinators and Venues will more than likely already have some photographers they have worked with before, if you want to make a splash in your town and want to have your name/studio name permeate and be well known, you are going to have to hit the pavement and do the “dog and pony” show with your work. Show them you are interested in their work or facility. They are more than happy to meet with other industry people.
    It’s important to note while you are meeting these people, that you aren’t selling your photography, you are selling you and your personality.
  3. Teach:
    The more you are in the public eye the better. And teaching other photographers makes you generous, an expert, and your students can end up as your most loyal evangelists. Plus, if you have a deep knowledge base of one particular subject, imagine how powerfully you can affect the photographic community you belong to, which makes you an influential figure.

Five Good Marketing Techniques

1. Keep Adding Something New
Every time you add something new to your business you create an opportunity to get more sales. For example, something as simple as adding new information on your web site creates another selling opportunity when prospects and customers visit your site to see the new information.

Adding a new product or service to the list of those you already offer usually produces a big increase in sales. The added product increases your sales in 3 different ways:

  • 1. It attracts new customers who were not interested in your current products and services.

  • 2. It generates repeat sales from existing customers who also want to have your new product.

  • 3. It enables you to get bigger sales by combining 2 or more items into special package offers.

2. Become a Valuable Resource
Look for ways you can be a resource for your prospects and customers. Supply them with free information. Help them do things faster, easier, less expensively. You get another opportunity to sell something every time they come back to you for help.

3. Separate Yourself from Your Competition
Find or create a reason for customers to do business with you instead of with someone else offering the same or similar products. For example, do you provide faster results, easier procedures, personal attention or a better guarantee?

Determine the unique advantage you offer to customers that your competitors do not offer. Promote that advantage in all of your advertising. Give your prospects a reason to do business with you instead of with your competition and you'll automatically get more sales.

4. Promote the End Result
Your customers don't really want your product or service. They want the benefit produced by using it.

For example, car buyers want convenient transportation with a certain image. Dental patients want healthy and good-looking teeth without suffering any pain. Business opportunity seekers want personal and financial freedom for themselves and their family.

Make sure your web pages, sales letters and other sales messages are promoting the end result your customers want.

5. Anticipate Change
Change is the biggest challenge to your business success. The days are gone when a business could constantly grow by simply repeating what it did successfully in the past ...or even recently. Aggressive, innovative competitors and rapidly changing technology make it impossible.

Expect change and prepare for it. Don't wait until your income declines to take action. Develop the habit of looking for early signs that something is changing. Then confront it before you start to lose business.

Tip: Insulate yourself against the impact of change by increasing the number of products and services you offer and by using a variety of different marketing methods. Only a small portion of your total business will be affected if the sales of one product decline or the response to one marketing method drops.

How many of these 5 proven marketing techniques have you overlooked or ignored? Start using them today and you'll see an immediate increase in your sales.