Business + Marketing

6 Things to Help You Break Out of a Photography Mold

February 7, 2019

By Kristi Drago-Price

© Banga Studios

Do you ever feel stuck between a brand that represents the real you and what you (and everyone else) thinks your brand is “supposed” to be? Are you yearning to insert more authenticity into your marketing efforts but worried you’ll alienate potential clients?

There’s so much pressure these days to see and be seen, to be a part of the conversation, that we often put ourselves in a mold, losing a sense of our true selves within our businesses. We unconsciously get swept along with the crowd and then get lost in the oversaturation.

Inserting your true self into your brand is essential for growth. Yes, you may alienate clients—the ones that weren’t a good match to begin with. You’ll also become magnetic to the clients who resonate with what you’re putting out there and are coming to your first meeting ready to book.

That all sounds easier said than done, right? I hear you, but it’s time to call yourself out and get real. Putting your best face forward requires looking at the good, the bad and ugly sides of your brand. Break the mold, show your true colors within your brand, and the rest (i.e. the right clients) will follow.

1. Ask Yourself: Does looking at the graphic styling of my branding make me throw up in my mouth a little?

Express Yourself: I won’t hold it against you if you made some long-ago decisions based on what was trending on Pinterest at the time, but you’ve moved past that pastel color palette. Research the style of branding that represents your work while also setting you apart from the crowd. It’s OK to skip the romantic script font if you’re more of a minimalist, sans-serif person. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing because you think you will be the odd man out. While curating over ten years of photographer Julie Skarratt’s luxurious wedding, event and editorial work, I came to notice a consistent presence of the color gold, which perfectly complemented the sophistication of her black-and-white images. This discovery led us to create an updated brand color palette of warm sand tones, a deep charcoal-grey and metallic gold for an accent. Develop a brand style that complements (and does not compete with) your photography style and you’ll never have to bust out the barf bag again.

2. Ask Yourself: Are there services I provide that no longer leave me singing a happy tune?

Express Yourself: Just like everything else in the world, businesses evolve over time. Congratulations on growing your business—that’s amazing! It’s also nothing to feel guilty about. Repeat clients and professional acquaintances may have gotten used to whatever service you started with, but it’s time to kick those to the curb if you’re #overit. From embracing new (leaner) package options by hitting delete on your least favorite line item, to hiding the newborn gallery tab on your website, being true to your brand and what you want to offer will take a sad song and make it better. Soon enough, you’ll be singing it from the rooftops.

3. Ask Yourself: Do I want to buy my clients a drink, or do I want to throw one in their face?

Express Yourself: Your business isn’t as young as it used to be. You’ve outgrown a few things, like those clients who want everything to stay the same, including your rates! They say people come into your life for a reason, and you’re grateful for the support from your long-time clients, but you’ve got to keep moving forward. Be pleasantly clear in communicating who your brand is in your inquiry responses and the type of work you’re currently accepting. I bet they’ll start taking you out for drinks.

4. Ask Yourself: Does my social media feed look like a familiar collection of “pretty things?”

Express Yourself: If you feel like you’ve seen that somewhere before, it’s because you’ve probably seen that somewhere before. Generically posting a photo of quirky groom socks to check off “social media” in your bullet journal will quickly have you fading into an overcrowded dance floor. It’s time to question how much sincerity and strategy are behind your steps. Be warned: PSL (or “Pretty Similar Look”) Syndrome is just as dangerous as downing too many of the other type of PSL (Pumpkin Spice Lattes). While it’s great to affirm how on trend and with the times you are, it’s even better to flex your creative muscles and show potential clients what’s really going on in that beautiful mind of yours. Whether it is mountain travel, food trucks or golden retrievers, consider what topics both you and your favorite clients are interested in, then show and talk about that. You’re way more likely to create a connection and grow your followers once you establish something you both have uniquely in common.

5. Ask Yourself: Do I resonate with the industry professionals I’m working and mingling with?

Express Yourself: Finding your “in-crowd” can be hard, but it’s not impossible. Here’s the trick: You’ve got to unapologetically be yourself. Yes, it’s cliché, but it’s also true. Is there a special someone arranging flowers you have an Insta-crush on? Reach out and gush over how awesome they are (everyone loves a compliment) and propose a collaboration. It could be a match made in industry heaven. Remember, literally everyone is awkward here, so swallow the self-conscious feelings and drop your guard. We bet you’ll find that “your people” were all around you the whole time.

6. Ask Yourself: Am I thinking Who dis? when I read my brand copy?

Express Yourself: Watering down your communication style in an effort to be overly professional can leave a reader with a vanilla taste in their mouth. One of the biggest compliments I receive is when an inquiry says they feel as if they know me already from purely reading my Letter from the Editor email series. From your website to your inquiry response down to your out-of-office reply, do a self-assessment by reading all (yes, all) of the copy related to your brand. Do the voice and tone align with your style of photography and personality? Think about it: If clients are continuously complimenting your humorous, candid imagery and cheery disposition, your brand’s voice should not be the same as your cell service provider. And remember, when you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one.

I know firsthand that the journey to uncovering your inner badass can be tricky, but those who break the mold and embrace their kickass selves often draw the attention of people who have been wanting to do the same. That just means the “in-crowd” could be you all along.

How I Broke Out of My Own Mold

It’s not easy to break free from the molds we put ourselves in. For years, I worked at top media companies—from Condé Nast to XO Group and Hearst—collaborating with commercial, editorial and emerging brands, bringing photography projects from concept to production, art directing the creative, managing a team, balancing budgets and sticking to deadlines. After spending over a decade as the photo director of BRIDES magazine, I left my Devil Wears Prada life behind in 2011 to use my fine-art photography degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology and the School of Visual Arts by starting my own business. At first, I went back to what I (and everyone else) thought I was supposed to do: professionally photographing weddings. It was the apparent transition and the perfect stepping stone to get my feet wet as a business owner. It was also refreshing to get back behind the camera, and it filled my heart with joy…until it didn’t.

You see, around the same time as I was starting my own photography business, I developed this little side hustle called Editor’s Edge. That began when I had a slight panic attack about entering a saturated New York City wedding photography market. To chill out, I went to a yoga class that produced the ultimate aha moment for me: “Being an editor was not just a corporate title. It was a very specific, yet varied, set of skills that I had been taking for granted. My experiences as an editor provided an edge!” It was during this moment of clarity that I recognized I should be sharing my knowledge to bring up the industry as a whole. So, when I had the time for a side hustle in my photography off-season, that’s just what I did.

Around nine years later, my back would ache just looking at my camera bag. Mexican takeout became the only thing that would get me through the post-production hours, tied to the computer, longing for the days of the darkroom. Wedding clients were still happy and work was consistent, but inside, I had to admit the whole thing started to feel a little forced. I realized that it was time to get real with myself and break my internal mold once again. I embraced the kickass work that truly invigorates my no-nonsense creative consulting, speaking engagements, creative direction and hands-on content creation. I took the leap, flipping the side hustle to the main hustle and rebranded it.

Editor’s Edge was founded to empower like-minded entrepreneurs to elevate their business to a cohesive brand through digital content marketing. With a 360-degree understanding of the marketplace, Editor’s Edge discovers, targets and translates the “special sauce” of each client to develop a brand strategy as authentic as they are. Breaking free from the mold and inspiring others to do the same has led me to discover my most kickass business self.

I understand when it comes to your business there’s an internal struggle between fitting in and letting your bright light shine. Sometimes we go with the flow or follow trends, hoping it’ll bring us clients and success, or worse, we say yes to certain (free) projects, eager to fall in with the “right crowd,” all while neglecting our real beliefs.

Don’t shy away from the sauce that makes you special.

Kristi Drago-Price is the founder and creative director behind Editor’s Edge, a boutique digital marketing, content strategy and brand-building agency. She empowers entrepreneurs to elevate their brands. Go to and @editorsedge on Instagram.

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