“I don't think anyone aims to be typical, really. Most people even vow to themselves some time in high school or college not to be typical. But still, they just kind of loop back to it somehow. Like the circular rails of a train at an amusement park, the scripts we know offer a brand of security, of predictability, of safety for us. But the problem is, they only take us where we've already been. They loop us back to places where everyone can easily go, not necessarily where we were made to go. Living a different kind of life takes some guts and grit and a new way of seeing things.”
Last year I stumbled across a song called "Renegades" by X Ambassadors. It has become my new anthem.
I put it on many mornings after Yoga and crank the volume. (Since my husband has been working from home, I have learnt it is best to do this with my headphones ON.) ;-)
The song is catchy with a great beat and driving emotional lyrics. It is no surprise, then, to find it was crawling up the charts. (I'd probably know that if I listened to the radio...)
The song itself is essentially about zigging when everyone else is zagging. It's about finding your unique voice and not being afraid to destroy the box.
It's about living a life that is in contrast to what most people are doing.
It's about being a game changer.
When I started my photographic journey at 17, I had no idea where it would take me. I only knew that this art form was a way of narrating the things happening around me. It was my voice but I didn't know what I wanted to say with it yet.
Over the past 20 years, having photographed numerous weddings, families, kids and couples, I've done my very best to learn from the experts who have come before me and to "do what they do". And what I've learned is this:
I am a Renegade.
Let me get very real on you here, most people can't tell the difference between one photographers work and another. Websites often look very similar and every.single.person is using a brush script logo these days....
There, I said it. (Let the controversy begin)
It's not that photographers want to be the same as everyone else, they are just stuck.
Stuck in trying to do what the experts say to do; stuck playing it safe. Stuck trying to make a living in an oversaturated market and following strategies that have worked for others. Stuck following trends when they could be redefining them.
When your brand identity isn't distinct, potential clients don't feel the emotional connection they NEED to choose you above all others.
A distinct brand identity starts with taking the time and energy required to truly dig deep into who you are at your core, who your ideal clients are at their core and what these kindred folk truly value most. If your brain just answered, "having their memories preserved", then you aren't going deep enough yet...
One of the greatest mistakes new photographers make is to cast a wide net for potential clients with the mentality that any work is good work.
The truth is, without taking the time to truly understand your "Why" and who you authentically serve, you can't have a distinct voice in your work and the people you want to reach most can't see you.
It's like shouting the same words into the wind as 100 others; no one can hear anything but noise.
My friends, don't let your work become noise.
You were created to be exceptional.
Focusing your brand visuals and messaging at a niche target audience means serving a smaller group of people. The right people; people you connect with on a deeper level. People who will become your greatest fans and influencers for other like-minded potential clients.
It means being specific about the "Who, What, Where, Why and How" of your work.
It means having some folks not "get it" while others are jumping up and down yelling, "Yes, yes, and double yes, I so hear you! Sign me up like yesterday!!"
I believe with my whole heart that there are a special group of you out there that yearn for something that is unique and deep and meaningful and different.
Some of you are longing to find a brand identity that will pull you out of the endless cycle of "doing what people do". A brand that let you claim your own space; your own voice.