If I am being 100% honest, writing this blog made me nervous.
It made me nervous because deep down, I have doubts on the daily on whether or not I am doing this whole "photographer" thing correctly.
"Am I branding myself properly? Does this image fit my brand? Should I blog these or will they make my feed look sloppy? Is my style too dark? Does this image fit my overall aesthetic?"
^just a sample of doubts that race through my brain when I am feeling insecure about my work.
Spoiler alert: this blog isn't about finding your style and sticking with it. This blog is about not being afraid to branch out beyond your brand's expected norm.
Most of my work is relatively dark. My tones are rich and moody. I like my highlights to be cool, and I like my shadows to be pronounced. I have built a lot of my brand identity on this darker aesthetic, but I can't help but wonder if I use protecting my brand identity as an occasional scapegoat for being scared to branch out and experiment with new types of work. Sometimes I don't post images that I am proud of because I am afraid they go against my brand. Sometimes I edit something differently than I feel fits the image because I don't want to shake things up too much.
It wasn't until I watched a video on the importance of editing consistency the other night that it dawned on me that it doesn't make much sense for every one of my images to be edited the same. For one, I shoot for a wide array of clients spanning a spectrum of industries. A politician head shot isn't going to necessarily be edited like a punk show. Secondly, and more importantly, art is dynamic. Limiting myself to a singular vibe or feel for the sake of shielding my brand is stifling to the creative process. For me, it prevents me from growing. I get bored. Shooting & editing become more like muscle memory than making art. Thirdly, as a photographer and creative consultant, I help other people tell their stories - not my own.
Am I saying that I want to throw caution to the wind and forget everything about my current style? Absolutely not. I love my darker style, but I don't want to use the brand I've built around that expected style to stop me from growing as an artist. Growth requires stepping beyond fear & expectations to see what I can create.
During my road trip in the Pacific North West last month, I was mostly unplugged and for the first time in years, I left my computer at the house. Its crazy what a few days with your brain sans distractions can do. While we were traveling, I started mulling over my personal mission statement for making art.
More than anything else, I want my images to be honest. I want my images to showcase my subject, not the persona I project onto him, her or it. For me, being rigid with my brand can stand in the way of that mission.
People are dynamic. Art is dynamic. It's ok to showcase that - even if it makes my Instagram look a little less curated.
To challenge myself, I am going to make at least one image a week that breaks the rules of my personal brand - straying from my go-to lighting & forgoing my usual editing wheelhouse.
For my first jab at this challenge, I decided to experiment with hard light and a jewel-toned edit. These images were shot around 4pm on a mostly sunny day. I usually avoid direct sun like the plague, but we were able to have fun playing with shadows and contrast on this hot Mississippi day. Shoutout to my dear friend, Annie, who is always an inspiration and down to try any crazy idea I may have.
Shoot me an email or message me on Instagram if you have any particular styles you'd like to see me experiment with.
Cheers to breaking brand, friends.