Friday, 30 December 2011

Emma & Gary - Wedding Sneak Peek

Yesterday was my last wedding of 2011. Emma and Gary planned their big day in record time and celebrated their marriage with their family and friends at the Bull in Long Melford. Here is a sneak peek of the newly married Mr and Mrs Armstrong and some shots from their very foggy engagement shoot back in November.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Have My Business Rebranded and Create A Showit Website - Complete!

When I made my 101 in 1001 list, the very two top goals were ones I never thought I'd be able to afford to ever complete. Nonetheless I put them on there to remind myself that they were two goals I wanted to achieve for my business, one day.

I'm not saying I fell into a huge windfall to make this happen, but what did help me tremendously was getting onto The Princes Trust Enterprise Scheme at the beginning of the year. They put me through a four day business course and then I started to write my business plan. Which then led to securing a loan.

I agonised for months over my business plan, some days throwing myself into it and others wondering why I was bothering. However the tediousness of it all certainly paid off by helping me to focus exactly what I was trying to achieve by running my business. It also meant I could clearly define how I planned to get to where I want to be and what I needed to get me there.

My website and branding I felt was the most important aspect of my business. I hope that the first 'meeting' my clients have with me is by first seeing my website, following my online resources (such as this blog, facebook or twitter) and then getting in touch. Not only does this mean clients coming to me have already seen examples of my work, but they should like what I do and know a little bit about me too. 

The hardest part was deciding what exactly I wanted my brand to look like and that is where Melissa Love stepped in. She asked me to collect images of things I was attracted to and not worry at first how they would come together. For this task we used Pinterest which is a very addictive website that allows you to pin images from all over the internet to your own virtual pin boards. (If you'd like an invitation to join, just leave your email in the comments section after this post and I'll send you one.) To see my original pins you can check out my rebranding ideas board here. It wasn't overloaded with ideas and I was worried about how Melissa could make it coherent but she did, soon after Melissa came back with a mood board to reflect the style I was after.

This was almost spot on, and the next part for me was to let Melissa know which elements I didn't like and which ones I loved. Which led us to the final moodboard below. This one contains elements that I loved including textures, colours and typography. Suddenly a brand was coming together before my eyes!

So after we settled on textures, elements, typography and themes it was time for the website. Melissa initially came up with two examples for me to choose between and then we tweaked it to suit my needs. Here are some screen shots of the two original ideas.

How hard are they to choose between?! I adored the first design for the retro feel, a friend of mine described it as having a retro circus feel, which I loved! And the paper textures and watercolours were gorgeous. However I felt it looked too similar layout wise to my previous template website which I built myself through Portfoliositez. It was also a navigation method and layout similar to hundreds of photographers and I guess rather obvious now I look back on it.

The second one however was something I had never seen before and brought in the origami element with the boxes filled with textures and of course images. It definitely felt more 'me' but there were some changes I wanted to implement. I decided that I'd prefer a profile view of the origami birds as the ones in the top right hand corner looked a bit flattened, after speaking with Melissa we also decided the grey was maybe a bit too harsh.

When we met up to talk the design through (and for me to decide on a logo!) Melissa taught me how Showit, the software the website is built by worked, the power it has and how it is going to completely change the way I operate my business. I am most definitely a Showit ambassador, and it's so easy to tweak and change things once you know how! We made a few changes to the site together and finally settled upon the design I have today.

As you can see, we did away with the large amount of grey, lightening the overall aesthetic of the site. Contained the boxes into a box itself reminiscent of the first layout idea Melissa designed. We also brought the logo down into the navigation bar as it felt detached from the website and a bit small in the previous designs and finally you may notice, settled on a logo! 

This was by far the hardest decision for me as Melissa supplied me with lots to consider. Some were very classic, others modern and then she also supplied some with a slight retro feel. After looking back at my moodboard and considering how it looked in our initial website design I finally settled on the logo below to represent my business and brand.

This logo brought together all of the elements of the rebrand. It was classically simple with a retro twist and combined the origami theme of my website with the birds. I personally think its modern but also timeless, which will mean that hopefully my logo wont 'date' too quickly. I now use variations of the logo with and without the birds across all of my business. As you may have noticed on the website, which has the logo contained in an oval.

My website is now a complete reflection of me and of how I want my business to appear. It's light and colourful yet contained and easy to navigate. It encourages interaction with scrolling galleries and a fun contact page. Plus a page teaching you to make an origami bird! I can honestly say without Melissa it wouldn't have ever become this gorgeous! 

I'm now working on completely rebranding my business over the Christmas and new year break. You can see the break down of the design process through Melissa's eyes here and of course visit the new and improved website here.

Oh and let me see your origami birds if you make any!

Monday, 5 December 2011

An Autumn Sunset Enagagement - Rachael & Rob

Rachael and Rob are getting married next September and after being friends of mine for quite some time I'm really excited to be a part of capturing their wedding day.

They decided to have their engagement shoot in October in order to capture some of the fantastic light we seem to be having this year. We went to Dedham for a walk near the river and were so lucky to experience this gorgeous autumnal sunset.

Looking forward to your wedding already!!