It seems every few years I find myself redefining my photography brand . . . or perhaps I’m subliminally redefining my own self, who knows. (and that’s an entirely new blog in and of itself!) All I know is that once again, I was sitting in my favorite local coffee shop in Bankers Hill, Cafe Bassam, this time with my good friend Shannon – my marketing guru. A little less than two years earlier I was in this same coffee shop with my husband and our friend Matt, a web-design guru. Common denominator in both meetings: I was mildly overwhelmed, yet excited, as we discussed at length my brand identity. It was then, as it was now, quite difficult to create my company brand. You have to find a unique voice through colors, symbols, textures and the like. But even more so, your brand has to say – via a static object – “hey world, this is who I am, what I offer, here’s why you must have me as your photographer!” which absolutely requires that you, as a person and business, know who you are, the effect you have on your clients, and the impression you wish to leave. Whew!
Lest we think that I am trying to find myself or my brand every other year, I should back up. In retrospect, two years ago, I think I laid the foundation for the brand, and now, I feel as though I’m refining it.
Two years ago, here was the light bulb moment: While the guys talked about HTML, CSS and a whole host of acronyms that stymied me, I found myself looking around the room, my eyes dodging in and out of conversations. She sat in the corner with an iced latte with whip cream reading a book; He was at a table working on his laptop, teacup in hand; They were discussing some latest business venture as they each gently sipped what looked to be a cappuccino and perhaps a mocha; along with many more. And at my own table – I sipped my usual white mocha (hold the whip), my husband had a soy latte, and Matt enjoyed a hot tea. In this tiny coffee shop, whose walls are riddled with random and vintage artifacts that bear no sense of cohesion, yet match wonderfully, I found myself smiling and excitement welling up within me. Turning back to my husband and our friend, I exclaimed, “I’ve got it! I am this coffee shop. This is the experience with Leslie Patrice Photography!” And so the brand identity began.
This coffee shop is not a chain, it is certainly not outwardly or inwardly flashy, and you won’t find any commercials about its products, nor even a website in this tech-saavy age. However, I have logged more hours in this coffee shop than any other in San Diego for one reason – organic comfort (that . . . and the white chocolate mocha). There is no formula, no cookie cutter experience, not here. After placing your order, you sit down and your drink is brought to your table. I just feel like I’m in my living room – especially on days when I wear leggings or sweatpants for long out-of-office working days. This is my coffee shop, and my guess is everyone who has visited more than once claims similar ownership. The static object of coffee, and this coffee shop, took on a life and personality that so perfectly described my photography, or the feeling I wanted my brand to have. When I think of coffee I envision an organic source of energy that awakens the senses, and the coffee shop that houses that source of energy beckons the individual to engage in a delightfully intimate experience that warms the soul. In the same way, I pray my photography – whether a wedding, maternity, or lifestyle portrait session- has an atmosphere that is warm, an interaction that is natural and an experience, organic.
Now, in 2014, I still cling tightly to that organic experience, but my focus has changed a bit. I’m now a mother to the most wonderful baby girl, and both time and the sweet moments life presents, have slowed me down yet hurried my soul to capture them as fast as I can. Because of this awesome shift in my own life, I seek to not only create an organic experience for my clients, but to also capture those organic experiences – as they happen – with little to no interference. And I delight in them. Welcome to the new normal . . .