Branding for Living History

Branding for living history

Most of the time, commercial portraits mean one of two things: a headshot, or some sort of environmental portrait. Headshots are simple: Head and shoulders, usually in front of a nondescript background. (Or that bright white that seemed so popular with web designers a couple of years ago.)

Environmental portraits are more fun. You’ve seen a thousand of them. That lawyer, leaning on his desk with his arms crossed, legal books in the background. The smiling real estate agent standing in front of the house with the “Sold” sign. Or the barista, receptionist, or machinist, pausing their work long enough to smile warmly for the camera. I can tell you that it takes more work than you might think to make those images look candid and casual.

Both of those types of photographs fall into the category of branding photography. If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, you know the concept – and the importance – of branding. Logos, images, colors, vocabulary, fonts, writing styles, and more, all carefully calculated to help you attract your ideal client. So usually when someone calls, telling me that they are going through a branding process, I have a pretty good idea of where we’re headed.

And sometimes, we get to add an enjoyable extra wrinkle!

Kendall Kendrick owns The Linen Agency. Actually, Kendall does a lot of things! Most of it revolves around the living history community. She is an entrepreneur, helping other entrepreneurs in a very specific niche. So for Kendall, branding doesn’t just mean a headshot. It means taking images of her in her 18th-century gown. It immediately identifies her as a member of the living history community, and helps her build relationships and trust with her potential clients before they ever even speak with her. After all, she’s one of them!

So when Kendall asked me to help her with images for her new site, I knew that we weren’t going to be doing the routine headshot. No overly saturated colors or poses leaning into the camera here. We needed images that represent Kendall as she is – competent, engaging, and genuinely helpful – yet still communicated an 18th century feel.

We used lighting techniques that emulated the work of late 18th century portrait artists. The kind that used brushes, not lenses! We intentionally worked with backgrounds in a historic house that complemented her wardrobe and matched the colors of her site. I processed the images to match the style that her branding team had put together for her.

Branding photography for living history
Kendall Kendrick of The Linen Agency

As a photographer, it gave me a unique opportunity to combine my work as a commercial photographer, with my interest in the living history community. I have begun doing more “historical” portraiture work of late, and look forward to more opportunities in the future.

In fact, for those of you in the Charlotte area with an interest in living history, we, along with the Linen Agency, will be sponsoring a portrait event at Historic Latta, August 22-23. There are still sessions available. The cost is only $79 and that includes the session and 6 finished portraits. And you will be helping to support Historic Latta! Click here for more details.

Regardless of where you live, if you would like to learn more about getting involved with historic events, reenactments and living history in general, The Linen Agency is a great place to start! There is a ton of content already available and new material is being produced all the time.

Finally, what does your brand look like? Do your images represent you in the best possible light? Is there room for improvement? Let’s talk!

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