The savvy sci-fan fan will recognize this blog title as the official title of George Lucas’ 4th episode (but, first release) of the “Star Wars” saga. So, it’s only fitting that I name this blog post after the aforementioned movie. First, because it’s the fourth blog post in a series that started April 2 when I encouraged the real YOU to stand out. Second, because I hope the information contained herein will bring a new hope to what’s possible in this industry.
In that original post I lamented the fact that in spite of all the education out there about the importance of having a unique brand, there seems to be a sort of homogenization going on in the photo industry where websites, blogs, and videos are all starting to look alike. I used as an example a promo video by Lauren Harris which looked very, very similar to a promo by Scarlett Lillian. I had no idea what would follow.
The topic obviously touched a nerve, because a whole lotta folk came out to give their 2 cents. Most agreed with my lament. Others called me mean-spirited for “outting” Lauren’s video (I’m still trying to figure out how one can “out” a video that is already public. Hmmm?) Some attacked Lauren, calling her a copy cat. Some attacked Scarlett, calling her unoriginal, a knock off of Jessica Claire (congrats by the way JC on the engagement. BTW, Jessica also chimed in and cleared the air that she does not consider Scarlett a knock off.) Some defended Lauren. Some cowards left biting remarks but refused to post their real names. (That was the impetus for post #2). It was drama at its best…or shall I say worst.
A WORD TO THE WISE
Lately I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs. It’s a book about wisdom. I think it’s been having some affect on me because yesterday I had a crazy idea—let’s try to take this really bad, melodramatic situation and turn it into something positive. So I made Lauren an offer. I would re-do her promo video for FREE, and use the process as an educational opportunity by creating a behind the scenes “making of…” video.
I called Lauren personally after making the post. First to apologize for any stress my blog post caused her (she said she’d gotten over 100 emails since this all started, some chiding her, some offering moral support. And just this morning I found out that the poor woman’s website went down due to over 200,000 hits. Note: I have never actually linked to Lauren’s website in any of my posts). I also called to explain my offer. She was amazed. I told her not to decide right then, but to think about it for a day.
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
So, as my work day came near to an end yesterday, another wild and crazy idea came upon me. Lauren said she didn’t have a lot of experience in creative design, and as a relatively new comer in the industry, she did what she saw a lot of photographers do, get a popular template. So I thought, “Hmm, she doesn’t just need a new promo, she needs a new website. And while I’m at it, let’s get her some branding help too.” Then I just kept going. What resulted is what I’m calling Operation Brand Aid.
OPERATION BRAND AID
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of Band Aid, a group of British musicians gathered by Bob Geldof to help raise money for AIDS in Africa. Now, I’m no Bob Geldof. And I’m certainly not even comparing this case to that of the plight of those in Africa. But as a play on words, I thought it apropos. And, like Bob did, I went to people in the industry to come and pitch in.
I sent an email to a few friends in the industry asking if they’d like to join me in this project. They all responded with an enthusiastic “yes.” I’m excited about the opportunity to work with a group of terrific companies and people to shine some light in an industry that lately has been beset with a lot of drama.
So, without further ado, the dream team.
My friend and co-WPPI presenter was the first person I thought of. I was amazed that David Jay was actually the first person to reply, within less than 15 minutes I think. (If you’ve every sent DJ an email, you know how rare an occurrence it is to get a reply from him, not his auto-responder. 🙂 ) ShowIt Sites is going to offer Lauren website hosting…forever! PLUS, consultation to make it look unique. Thanks DJ. Rock on! (This alone is worth over $2500!)
Kevin Swan is a marketing pro and someone who I think totally “gets” it. He has a new venture offering brand consultation to photographers in need. Even though they are at their client maximum right now, he agreed to participate and offer Lauren brand consultation to ensure the uniqueness of her brand. Thanks Sevin, er, I mean Kevin. 😉
One of the things I mildly criticized both Scralett and Lauren about was the use of a copyrighted song for their promo videos. I knew music was going to play a huge role in this project. Me and my friends at TSM go way back, lending songs for all the videos we’ve done for our many, many photography industry videos. Triple Scoop Music will be offering music for the promo, for the website, and for the the “making of..” video. Thanks Roy, Jen, and Ali!
One of the things that excited me most about my move to the Atlanta metro area was that I’d be physically close to my good friends Rachel and Andrew Niesen, owners of LaCour and co-founders of the amazing studio management solution ShootQ. Every good business needs a great management system. So, ShootQ has agreed to offer Lauren at least a year subscription to their service. Thanks Rachel and Andrew. That’s a very generous offer. (BTW, I still want to have that “Last Star Fighter”/”Never Ending Story” double feature movie nite).
I would be remiss if I did not bring in the current evangelist for all things YOU-nique with regards to wedding photography branding. Author, inspirational speaker, coach, and a pretty darn good photographer to boot, Dane Sanders will offer a free consult with Lauren to help define who she is as a photographer. Naturally she’ll get a free copy of the book (assuming she doesn’t already have it), a free pDNA, and a year subscription to Dane’s monthly coaching program. (Note: I have to admit that I forget to ask Dane about the monthly subscription part. I’m hoping he’ll be okay with it. But, if it should magically disappear from this blog, then you know I goofed. 🙂
LET THE HEALING BEGIN
I’m particularly enthusiastic about the next two generous participants of Operation Brand Aid. Much of the drama that has surfaced as of late is centered around these next two companies. I really hope that their participation and collaboration in this project will send a powerful message of unity and the hope to move on.
In the past year, SmugMug has exploded on the scene. From hosting Vincet Laforet’s videos to partnering with PhotographyMentor.com to provide an online HD school. Seems like wherever you turn, there’s that “mug.” They have graciously agreed to host the “making of…” TV show of Operation Brand Aid as well as the new promo video we’re producing for Lauren. Thanks Jeff Jochum for joining the party.
Last, and certainly not least, I had to hook up Lauren with my friends at Pictage. The undisputed leader in online lab processing and photo management for the wedding and portrait industry, Pictage has seen a lot of changes recently. Not the least of which is a new and visionary CEO, Jim Collins, who personally accepted my invitation to join this “dream team.” Pictage will be offering a year membership to their premium service. Thanks Jim. I look forward to what you have in store for your members.
MORE TO COME
Whew! That’s it for now. Put your hands together for your Operation Band Aid Dream Team.
After a lot of drama, negativity, and hoopla, let’s look at this as a shining example of all the GOOD that exists in this industry. I think it’s pretty cool I get to make this announcement on Good Friday. 🙂
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I called Lauren again yesterday evening and she formally accepted my offer.