PP Iowa Keynote Speaker | Fall Retreat 2017 Recap
Seems like I'm always behind on blogging, and the new year has me motivated to step it up in this department. So in an effort to up my blogging game, I figured I'd start with a recap on my speaking engagement at PP Iowa's Fall Retreat! First and foremost, a mad shoutout to Heidi and Troy of studioU Photography for inviting me to speak, as well as for making me feel right at home. Heidi mentioned this thing called "Iowa Niceness," which is akin to a Texan's much beloved "Southern Hospitality." Being a Texan native, this sort of thing is just ingrained in me and it's a relief to experience it when traveling (get with it, New York and California!). Let me say that they seriously brought the Iowa brand of niceness, and I couldn't imagine having had a better experience. In fact, all of the attendees, board members, and vendors were truly incredible and welcomed me with open arms. I loved getting a chance to chat with everyone and even nerd out on some shop talk over dinner and drinks. So, thanks again, y'all!
Having come off a MAJOR rebrand in 2017, questions abounded about how and why and where to start. After extensive talks with friend and colleague, Craig Stidham, I narrowed in on the topic of branding. I was consistently getting questions about how I figured out my own photographic style, how I was able to translate that style into a brand, and then how I executed the full package. For me, the most important part of that equation is narrowing down into the why behind your photography, as well as staying true to the things that fire you up and motivate you to create.
Art is hard, because we're all influenced by the different artists that came before us. And like it or not, the style we create in our own art is an amalgamation of our artistic influences, whether that be painting, photography, music, or even just the beauty of life. For me, that's Annie Leibovitz, Peggy Sirota, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, and music videos. They are most definitely influences I go to again and again, and I make no bones about that. However, when comparison and admiration for another's work muddies the creative waters, it becomes harder and harder to see where influence ends and replication begins. It's a very difficult part of the artistic process and one that deserves analysis. For that reason, I chose to speak about how to find your style and why it plays such an important part of the branding process. The key takeaway was that you MUST continue to get inspired, figure out how your influences do what they do, and then remix the process into your own style rather than simply copying their work. The more you explore those concepts and create, the more your style develops, helping you lead to your brand and knowing how to create a brand that is consistent and easily identifiable.
If you've ever heard me speak or seen me teach, then you know that I'm a major proponent of practical application and hands-on learning. So, a shooting demo was, of course, a must. My goal was to use the slideshow presentation to bring them into my world of inspiration and then show them how I use that inspiration to light my subjects and execute photo sessions in the studio using studio lighting. This was hands down my favorite part of the presentation, because it gave me a chance to work directly with the attendees in a more laid-back setting and to show, not just tell.
AND, I got to work with the incredible Sierra, a model represented by Sugar & Spice Talent Management. And without further ado, here are the killer images Sierra and I created together. She was SO amazing to work with, has the BEST laugh, and the most gorgeous green eyes. HOLY. CRAP. What a dream!!
We worked together before the conference to pull together her wardrobe, hair, and makeup using - you guessed it - inspiration from Pinterest AND her own closet. Here are a few of the moodboards I created using Fundy's Designer Suite to help direct the shoot (a tool I ALWAYS use for my clients' shoots). DISCLAIMER: These images are NOT mine and are used solely for the purpose of inspiration.
One of the big developments for Jen Bertrand Photography in 2017 was teaming up with WHCC, my photo lab of choice. After connecting with some of their incredible team members at Senior Style Guide's Push Conference, we connected again when they generously offered to sponsor me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would be possible, and I am incredibly excited, grateful, ecstatic, humbled - you name it - to have even been considered, let alone chosen for sponsorship. They took such amazing care of the attendees, board members, and me, and I am truly grateful. THANK YOU, WHCC FAMILY! Check out the pic of the SWEET display they put together for me for my talk, as well as my photo with the awesome (and HILARIOUS) Tom Stanley from WHCC.
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