This post has been on my mind for quite a while. Well, actually ever since the redesign of my website was complete and it went live back in June. I started the 'photographic' journey about 3 years ago and everything related to website and blog design I did myself. I also came up with the name Exhibit Emotions at the very beginning because I thought my own name sounded well, eeerm, weird or something. And in my mind it was also hard to spell (Caffrey - with C instead of K and double ff!). Whilst I was usually quite happy with designs I came up with, and despite receiving positive feedback most of the time, I felt like something was missing. Something that would gel all my ideas together. Something that would make my website and blog feel more like ME. After much deliberation and thinking on long train journeys I took a big decision to change my business name to Dasha Caffrey Photography. And whilst it might sound weird, that is my name :) I represent my business and I inject a lot of my own personality into what I do and my photography, and I thought my business name needed to reflect that - needed a face))
It's no secret that a good design should reflect the brand and feel like an extension of everything you do. I know how it all works in theory and I used to read a lot about branding, however, when it came down to applying my knowledge on a small scale and doing it for myself - I felt lost. It went something like this: what I do is a one person business; it's just me and I communicate on my blog, twitter and facebook as myself (all views are my own, hehe); my work and experience I provide are centered around how I make people feel, hence my brand is me and should reflect who I am. That's when it all got complicated. Errrmm, who am I?! I always just was! I never thought about describing myself in words and sentences (well, I have an About Me section, but this is different!) so it could be translated into a brand and design. Deep stuff. It was a process of self-discovery I guess, and I had to think long and hard about things I love, who I am and how it all related and projected into my work. I was struggling as I am many things, and I'm drawn to many things.
So I tried to figure it all out. I'm eclectic - I love a lot of different styles in everything (photography, fashion, interior design etc). Let's say I might like a room with a minimalistic modern design, and I may also like a room full of vintage cute furniture. I like simple and I like complicated. I like romantic chick-flicks and I like films that move you and make you think. I'm quiet and unassuming; feisty and confident, but vulnerable; funny and not funny (I can be really funny in some situations, but sometimes a sense of humour completely escapes me. Can't figure that one out, ha!). I like fashion, but I'm not fashionable. I like digging around in our allotment wearing whatever, and I like to dress up. I like elegant and I like quirky. Yeah.... There I was trying to make it all feel like a brand :-D Huge help for me was actually looking into my photography, finding my favourite images and what was it that made me love them. I found out a few core things - they are emotive, romantic and feminine. Bang. That was the start! I also wanted the design to feel a little quirky because of all the things about myself. I also started to put together Pinterest boards of many things I like to try and find common patterns. And I did - light, airy, bright, clean (as in simple, not opposed to dirty ;) ) and dreamy.
On top of that I wanted my website design to feel warm, friendly and welcoming. My couples are friendly, outgoing, in love and have big personalities. All these discoveries together with my Pinterest boards were passed on to my designer - Melissa Love. We spent some time on Skype discussing everything, and she did a brilliant job guiding me through my own ideas. Melissa was asking me about shapes, textures, colours and fonts. One of my favourite questions was 'If your brand was a flower, what would it be?' (Lily-of-the-Valley without hesitation! See photo in the bottom right corner in the pic above). Talking through things with a professional and someone who could find common features and patterns in all my mess was amazing! Soon Melissa sent me the mood board which was her vision of what my brand looks and feels like:
I absolutely loved it! Spot on! Fast forward couple of days and the vision started to translate into the design of my new logo and website. And here you are, browsing it now)) I hope it will give you an insight into who I am as a person and a photographer. If you are a photographer yourself and thinking about a rebrand, or just starting the journey and thinking about your identity - I hope this post will be of help to you. My advice - hire a good designer when you know who you are and what you want to do. If you are not sure, than you are not there yet - keep searching! ;)
Huge thank you to Melissa Love for making my ideas come to live!