Walking about in England, there is plenty to feast the eyes on for inspiration. There is a new mall in east London, Stratford, where the London 2012 Olympics will be held. A MASSIVE shopping centre has been built that literally buzzes with people (Can you say “get me out of here in two hours or less?!”) I like this place because there are different shops, displays and items that I have come to watch for inspiration. The way a store decorates their windows with jewels or fur. Names we don’t get in North America. Or, like in John Lewis yesterday with a friend, I found simple coastal laundry room items that I snapped a picture of because the smell and look inspired me.
Inspiration is everywhere, if you look for it.
I like to follow other photographers who have been in the industry for umpteen more years than me who have a solid brand and take beautiful shots. It’s part of the inspiration search. And I can use their wisdom.
One such couple who photograph together are Justin & Mary Marantz out of the US. They recently posted a blog about another couple, Jeff and Erin Youngren, who have rebranded their photography site. Long story short, this is the sentence on branding that stuck out for me from Erin Youngren:
“The only tidbit I can really say is that if you could put together a gift basket of five to ten things that totally describe you, what would they be? Would it have a box of chai tea? An empty Starbucks cup? Designer stilettos? A passport? What common theme brings these things together? What makes them you? Don’t start with other brands or other photographers/blogs/designs/etc. Start with YOU, figure that out, and then you can derive inspiration from elsewhere. Our new blog design began when we started wrapping our client gifts in a way that we knew we’d love if we received a gift. And then it just went from there…”
I thought it was fantastic advice not just for starting a business, but for life itself. If you don’t know your identity and what works for you, it will be easy to be swayed by what others are doing or saying.
Start with your own basket.
I took this sweet challenge and made a list (albeit hard to keep to 10!) of ten things that would be in my basket (bearing in mind it must be things that would fit in a basket):
- my red vintage heels
- A bundle of black and white photographs of family, friends and travel
- Coffee beans
- My camera
- A CD with the sounds of the ocean crashing (or perhaps a key to a Cape Cod style house by the ocean?)
- White t-shirt and blue jeans
- Notebook and pen
- Vanilla candle
The basket might change as the years go by. Someday it could be the cologne of my husband and diapers for my kids. I couldn’t squeeze in things like a piano, a starry prairie night and good conversation. But those are there somewhere beyond the 10. But for right now, this is my basket.
What’s in yours?