They say “doctors make the worst patients.” It is also said that “We are our own worst critics.” So you can imagine the trepidation I felt when asked to do a brand system for a fellow creative, and a photographer no less. Would we bump heads and have a titan-esque clash of egos?
This was actually one of the easiest projects I’ve had the pleasure of working on. The photographer didn’t have any real set idea as to what she wanted. She did have a general feeling she wanted the brand to convey. Tropical. With that one word, I dove in full speed ahead. While not wanting to be too literal with the feeling, aka no palm trees and beaches here, I conversed more with my client and got to the root of what she was after. What made the tropical aspect so appealing. It’s relaxing, open and airy, you can see for miles, the cool blues of the water.
Now I had something to work with. Using those adjectives that meant “tropical” to her…
I began to work on the logotype. The font should be all of those things, with the exception of perhaps blue. Relaxed and open. Something with fluid movement perhaps. It would probably have softly rounded corners, but not exactly scripty. More handwritten-esque. In searching, I came across the Sacramento font on Google Fonts. It was perfect. The thin weight kept the font light. The large open negative spaces in the letterforms made it feel open and airy. The long winding curves made it seem like each letter was written slowly, purposefully by someone not in a hurry, relaxed. The handwritten aspect to it certainly made it feel less stuffy and more cool and contemporary. Now, to compliment Sacramento.
Getting to know the photographer, she is very much a modern woman. A mother of two, she’s very no-nonsense and wanting to get her point across as quickly and completely as possible. The typefaces should do the same. With Sacramento taking care of the beauty and aesthetics of the logotype, we needed to drive home the point…this is a photography business. A clean, sans-serif typeface to contrast the scripted forms would be ideal. Raleway, also a Google Font, is described as…
“an elegant sans-serif typeface family intended for headings and other large size usage.”
Perfect for my client. Even flying in the face of intentions, “large size usage” indeed, it worked perfectly as body copy in support of Sacramento. Clean verticals, a wide variety of weights will allow it to be it’s own typeface, either separate from Sacramento or in support. Now, for an accompanying logomark…
Since the beginning, my client knew she wanted a logomark. Once again, no preconceived barriers to break through. As a photographer, she is extremely comfortable with the tools of her trade and accompanying lingo. While discussing the brand system with her, she outlined visuals she liked and didn’t like. For the likes, we both kept coming back to the camera’s iris that controls the aperture of the lens. A mechanical system on blades that slide opening and closing to let light into the camera. However, mechanical irises are prevalent in the photography branding landscape. As a firm believer in fitting in while still standing out, I explored alternatives to the traditional mechanical iris. Something more organic, almost floral. By taking the shape of petal and turning them inside out, I was able to mimic the appearance of an iris. It also brought out an organic ying and yang element. Fitting as photography is all about finding a balance between ISO, Aperture, and shutter speed. It wasn’t quite right though. I changed the solid shapes into outlines and then hand drew decorative flourishes that resembled tropical plants and design. What we ended up with was a logo mark that is unique in the photography world while still feeling appropriate.
Using the ocean and tropical waters as a jumping off point, I created a color palette around the blue seen in the waters of the Caribbean as a source of inspiration. I added two more blues in a darker shade for contrast. As with most all photography businesses, a watermark is important, so from the very beginning, I designed the logo with that in mind…in addition to everything else, I’ve discussed. In doing so, I explained quite early on the virtues of having a single color logo. While it may seem to limit at first, you soon realize that having a, pardon the pun, black and white outlook on the logo allowed her images to speak for themselves. The arrangement also allowed the logo to work on virtually all images. Black & white, Color, Portraits of people, and landscapes of every possible color were allowed to stand alone with the branded watermark as a soft voice in the corner saying “I took that photo.”