An interview with the fabulous Sarah of Sarah Bradshaw Photography!!! Wow this interview is packed with wisdom for Branding Your Photography Business! I hope you’ll find lots of good advice and you’ll take it and run with for your business to blossom and grow!
Sarah Bradshaw a wedding photographer based out of Washington DC.
1- Tell us a little about your “newly” wed self and family!
YES! We live in Capitol Hill in DC, that’s where I met my husband here at the end of 2011, I had a crush on him right away and it took him about a year to ask me out…we started dating in the context of church and a year later we were married…he’s my best friend. I’ve always loved marriage concepts and loved weddings, my parents were an ideal testimony of a sweet friendship and fighting for their marriage. I’m so blessed to have that now in my husband. As a wedding photographer I get to see this life transition from engagement to wedding/marriage for my clients and now that I’m married it is all the more sweeter and makes me love my job all the more.
2- What is one quirky thing about you that you’d be willing to share?
Quirky thing about me: Oldest of nine kids and home schooled all the way…also I never went to college, I worked for a non-profit organization in lieu of college. I’ve been full time self employed as a wedding photographer since 2008! Another quirky thing about me…I have crazy curly hair and can’t go a day without coffee…
3- How many weddings do you average a year?
Currently the goal is 25. I average between 17 and 22 weddings a year. I’ve capped it at 25, because I know I couldn’t physically handle more, yet I don’t think I could give the same level of care/service to my clients. Which the later statement is the most important for any business owner/client relationship!
4- What equipment do you use to shoot weddings with? What would be your all time favorite-go-to lens?
I shoot with a Canon 5d mark iii and prime lenses. I love prime lenses because they give a sharper and crisper image as well as give me some ah-mazing bokeh. The main reason I shoot with prime is I physically engage with my clients. If I want to get closer to my clients I have to actively engage and walk towards them. It helps me aid them in being comfortable and when I’m engaging with them it helps me to really step up my game and shoot with all that I have!!
My prime lenses consist of:
I love my 50mm the most. I just recently purchased the 85mm 1.2 and I have fallen in love with it even more.
5- What three words could/would describe your current brand?
I shoot for heritage and the heirloom album.
6: BRANDING: 3 Questions around Branding!
— I know recently you rebranded your photography business. Can you give us a few pieces of wisdom on branding your business to truly be YOU?
The biggest key to accurate branding and branding that sticks or rather isn’t going to go out of Vogue in two years, is branding that is not about photography. The BEST thing I did was to write down the core beliefs about myself. Everyone of these beliefs I wrote down still fits perfectly. i.e. Every person is beautiful because they are made in the image of God or God made the sun perfectly and it’s beautiful and it’s the most beautiful light source there is, hence I am a natural light photographer. So if I use flash…I try to mimick the sun….
I believe that people are more important than projects… and relationships trump the bottom line.
So using these core beliefs is what informed the brand to my business!
Your brand is your entire personality, style, belief system and a visual. Yet the logo is only a VERY small detail of the whole brand…A brand is WHO you ARE and what your business stands for. The bumble bee in the logo versus the flower is so minute in the perspective.
When I started I did every kind of photography gig that came my way…and I would discount often…that’s changed over the years because my purpose has changed…the whole reason I’m a photographer now is that I can support and contribute to the good of my family. I raised my prices so that I can reach my new goal of being with my family.
I love people, wedding and marriage and that’s another reason of my business, but earning a good living for my family trumps just the relationships I initially started…I want my brand to connect with the people I like and can serve really well. I love my DC brides so I can be home with my family and in church on Sunday with my family…hence I don’t market to the overseas and destination weddings, although I love them…it doesn’t help me reach my goal so I don’t specifically market to them.
— I feel like so many photographers can never settle in on who they are…which in turns results in a constant desire to re-brand. That isn’t healthy for a business, in my opinion. Would you agree? If so how would you encourage a photographer to truly find out who they are in order to brand their business. (If you don’t agree where do you stand on this topic?)
Yes I agree, it’s not healthy. Again photographers who never settle down on a brand are always comparing themselves to others and wanting to rebrand and be someone they aren’t. I was that way for awhile…I started a rebrand in 2012…because I realized my work was outdated, the website didn’t let me change things so I wanted to do an overhaul. I was really excited about the direction it was going…after marrying my husband…my rebrand got put on hold…once I picked up the project again, I realized I was rebranding in fear…and I realized that my high end clients wouldn’t be given what I wanted. I wanted to be a working professional, I wanted my clients to see I had a high standard…I was afraid of failing in that and that my clients would expect that and I would fail them.
Once I realized it was fear…I confessed it to the Lord…and scratched the whole process and started from the bottom again. If failure wasn’t an option who would be my target clientele? This was the question I had to ask myself…if I could live up to my expectations and what others expected… This is what I began to write down….now the brand I had come up with I truly fell in love with. I now was confident in what God had called me to do and there was no fear there… Now we have Sarah Bradshaw Photography and I can thankfully say there is no fear there!
— Would you be willing to give us a brief breakdown of the process of branding a business?
1- Figure out your reason WHY you want to do this business.
a. should I be full time
b. should I be part time
This will be important in branding and how big of a deal you’ll make of it.
2- Write a mission statement
Create a filter–reason why and your mission statement. These will be your core beliefs…how you react to competition, how to view income, is my family depending on this?, are we just using my income as a supplement.
Write out a description of your ideal clients: where they shop, what kind of career their parents have/had, where they went to school, where they vacation, what kind of car they drive, what color nail polish would they choose etc.
My key word phrase is:
“Sarah Bradshaw Photography is the classic romance for the modern couple”
Write down words and phrases.
4- After the first 3 steps create a visual!
Pinterest Board/ branding work…look for things outside of photography! i.e. interior design, architecture, decorating, a well designed room etc. Don’t look at others branding…go somewhere else. This will keep you from drowning in a sea of comparison etc. Once you’ve pinned a ton of things, go back to step 3 and compare it to your pinterest board and delete anything that doesn’t fit! Keep it streamlined and focused.
Remember to keep in mind color aesthetic and what these things mean as well!!
5- Hire a designer.
Take all of this to someone else. Figure out steps 1-4 before you talk to a designer. Know who you are and what YOU want.
I’ll leave you with this last piece/s of advice!
Don’t ask questions from too many people.
Ask those who are not in the photography world!
People who’s taste you trust, but one who isn’t a photographer!
The reason WHY behind your brand is what reveals your logo…now my brand fits that!
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