Have a brand, don't be one.

A thoughtful brand puts your own personal stamp on all the little touches your clients receive along the way. Whether it's your business card, a thank you note, even your response to an inquiry email with your attached PDF - these are all early seeds planted to quietly communicate to your client what your business is all about. Where do you start? Here are a few things I think really work.

ONE - Get inspired - what visually represents your business?

Go to places you love, study people who do things you respect, ingest art + music, read books and lastly...look online for photos that really communicate something to your soul. Don't JUST look online, get out in the real world. Create a journal and/or Pinterest board and collect the imagery and thoughts that really inspired you. Take as much time to do this as you need, you are in charge..nobody else. Narrow down your choices to a few strong images that really indicate where you are going with your business. Certain vibes, colors or thoughts should become pretty clear if you edit your collection down to only images that you truly adore.

MY BRAND MOOD BOARD

This (below) was my brand identity mood board. The best discovery for me during this time was that one of my own images was actually what most inspired me! It was exciting to see that I was growing and finally creating work I was proud of.

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TWO- Hire a designer.

I know I know. You don't like this part because designers cost MONEY. And you are thinking, "easy for you to say Jenni, you ARE a designer". You are right, I designed my own brand identity because I'm trained to do so. But guess what? I hired a web developer because I don't have those kind of skills. I saved for 2 years in preparation for this because I didn't want to screw around with Wordpress and Squarespace anymore. But that is another story.

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THREE- apply your brand identity.

If you spent all the time and energy to develop a brand, don't just upload the logo to your website and call it good. Use the fonts and colors on your business materials and web site if you can. Have your designer develop your business materials for you (cards, PDF's, catalogs, communication materials, packaging, etc) with your brand if you can't do it yourself. These items don't have to be elaborate, just consistent.

MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!!

Is it okay to have client consultations in my home if the paint out front is chipping? Am I fashionable enough to be a fine art photographer? Will wedding clients with higher budgets still want to work with me if I drive a 1998 Honda Civic?

These are actual questions I've found swirling in my head at night while thinking about my business goals. Remember, you may need a brand but you don't need to BE a brand. I see the trend of people turning their life into a brand and it worries me. You are a living breathing person...a human. You have this one life, and to fully experience it you have to be present. More than your brand and logo, your clients connect with YOU. So be yourself and don't worry too much. Can't afford a brand make-over right now? No problem! Do the best with what you have now and slowly save up. Is your work good? Are you kind? That's all that matters - if you don't care about being perfect your clients won't either. So embrace that cluttered kitchen and that extra 25lbs. Do your best, work hard and be at peace.

There's always time to have a brand identity - there's not always time to truly live. Thanks so much for reading this, means a lot that you stopped by.

Credits: 

Brand Identity + Web Design: Jenni Kupelian

Web Development: Jim Krill

Mood Board Photos (left to right, top to bottom): Karen Rosenlund, J. Astir Brinkmann, Martha Stewart, Jenni KupelianRebeca Yale via Once Wed, Feather + Stone via Once Wed

Brand Identity | Lindsay Helzer Floral

053A6839 Last summer, I had the honor of photographing Lindsay Helzer Floral Design's brand shoot. Lindsay's florals have a unique edge and she is not afraid of color. All her work, (even the softer palettes) have a pop to them that is so fun to be inspired by. So imagine my delight when I was offered the opportunity to create a full brand identity for her with all that beauty in mind. Lindsay was actually featured on the cover of Magnolia Rouge this year -- you can see that full shoot from her and Cassie Roch HERE.

A little known fact? My degree is in Graphic Design and my original plan was to become a stationary designer and sell wholesale to boutiques and larger companies like Anthropologie. I operated a small freelance company under my name and did small contracted jobs while pursuing a custom line of stationary... before deciding to pursue photography full-time a couple years ago. I have found myself really missing that creative time at my notebook, and often wish I'd have kept that dream alive awhile longer.

I think as humans we are always evolving and changing...which pulls our focus and goals into different spaces every few years. I feel a new pull back to my roots in order to pursue some old dreams I thought had died. To say the least, it was wonderful to work my old design muscles in creating this brand identity for Lindsay.

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If you are a creative business owner, particularly if you are a wedding vendor -- I still take on brand identity freelance work and am always up for collaborating on a styled brand shoot. You can contact me at jennikupelian@gmail.com for information on custom pricing and options.

To see Lindsay's beautiful work you can find here online and on instagram.

All Images shot by Jenni Kupelian in Portland, Oregon, unless otherwise noted.

Sunset Engagement in the Columbia River Gorge

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I'm gearing up to photograph Lindsay and Shawn's downtown portland January wedding in just a week or so and I could not be more excited. This couple have such a warm and fun dynamic together on camera and I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic day. Over the summer we did a little hike to Government Cove, a secluded space in the Columbia River Gorge. The dramatic sunset environment was the perfect space for their engagement photos.

Canon 5d Mark III | 50mm F/1.8 Lens | Kodak Portra 400 Preset + My Tweaks 

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Congratulations to Lindsay and Shawn! You guys are the best clients a girl could ask for!

COZY OREGON FALL FAMILY PORTRAITS

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Fall is such a nostalgic time for me...especially since a few of my favorite TV shows and movies are coming back in full force like Gilmore GirlsAnne of Green Gables and the new Beauty and the Beast trailer just aired too! That is putting me into full-blown nostalgia overdrive.

While these feelings are mostly joyous, nostalgia can bring it's melancholy too. Do you ever wonder how you got to where you are...both the good and the bad? Do you ever miss moments in your life that have come and gone...or have had to let go of dreams that you simply can't focus on right now? I have. I do.

For some reason, fall always brings up this mixed up bunch of feelings and bombards me with them. Those very feelings have a way of informing my work and I'm always most pleased with the photos I take in this cozy time of year. This family session was no exception with it's cozy scenery and warm layers...these moments were the perfect way to wrap my 2016 family portrait season.

Canon 5D Mark II  |  50mm F/1.8 Lens  |  Kodak Portra 400 preset w/ my custom tweeks

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Special thanks to the Moore Family for being awesome even when the rains came. And to little Landon for having the best suspender sweater set ever.

Enjoy the rest of your nostalgic fall everyone - it's a magic time of year!

All images taken in Vancouver, Washington near Klineline Pond.