On June 22, 2013 around 11:00 pm, our tired bodies collapsed onto a hotel bed in Texas. We hurt and ached in places we didn’t know existed, but somehow felt like we had more life in us than on our best days. We had just finished photographing our first wedding. Through the exhaustion and agony, we looked at each other and said “I think we found what we’re meant to do.”
There is no way to adequately describe how many lessons we have learned about the photography industry, being business owners, the wedding industry, and mostly marriage… the hard way. The last 4 years have been a radical evolution of two people in a broken marriage who wanted to photograph weddings, of all things. We hit rock bottom and God helped us rebuild into a couple that we never would have recognized. Marriage became a sacred gift that we guarded with our lives, and we wanted everyone to know about it. Being wedding photographers wasn’t this fun and creative thing to do anymore… it was a mission and a calling.
We wanted this little business to boom, and we wanted it fast. We threw money at every avenue we found to help us expedite the process, essentially skipping the fundamentals of developing our skills as artists and business owners. We put WAY too much weight into the advice and opinions of everyone else, and hardly any into our own. Social media became a place to see what everyone else was doing and try to emulate that. In hindsight, we weren’t being lazy and trying to take the easy train, we simply didn’t know. We didn’t know how to take the advice of those who had gone before us as just that… advice. We didn’t know how to find our own identity, how to be inspired without the green monster of comparison, or how to create something original.
Over time we have established that identity. (Turns out there is no such thing as a fast track) We know exactly who we are and what we stand for, but have still struggled with how to build a business around that. We are a husband and wife photography team, so we have to run this business as one entity, right? Nope. God created us to be two very different individuals, so why would we stifle that? That’s the turning point, folks. We are strong individuals who are even stronger together.
A year ago, we realized how desperately we needed a brand. Our entrepreneur friends understand what this means, but for everyone else, here is a little explanation. You are the brand. We are the brand. A brand is not color and a logo. A brand is an identity. It’s who you are when no one is looking. It’s how you treat people- customers or not. It’s the words you use and the actions you take. It’s your personality. It’s the “why” behind what you do… and what you don’t do.
“A brand is the “why” behind what you do… and what you don’t do.”
We reached out to a brand designer that we know and love and began planning. And then the news we had been praying for came along, our baby girl, and suddenly paying a designer was completely out of the budget this year. Something you should know about me is that when I get an idea I don’t let it go. And if circumstances tell me “no,” I figure out how to do it anyway, no matter how hard or how long it takes. So I decided that I’d do it myself.
I began the countless hours of studying the psychology behind visual branding and web design, self-assessment, taking polls, and writing pages and pages of notes in Google docs. I created my own extensive branding questionnaire and with every single answer I would ask “why?” If I couldn’t come up with a good enough “why” I would nix that answer and start over.
Once the branding phase was finished and our identity was painted clearly, I began the website design process through the incredible web host company, Showit. And I just thought the branding phase was hard! I went into this knowing absolutely nothing about designing a website. I started with a free template provided by Showit since I had no clue where to start, but as time went on and I figured out what to do, that template got torn apart and my own original design came to life. Again, with every decision I would ask “why did I put that there?” If it didn’t fit with the defined brand it was deleted and I started over.
Looking back over the last year, and especially the last 8 months since this project truly began, I see how beneficial it was that we couldn’t afford to hire a seasoned professional for this. It made us dig so deep into the “why” behind everything we do that we have grown exponentially in every aspect. Somehow that monster of comparison became (nearly) a non-issue because we finally understand and respect our own business too much. We can admire what others are doing without questioning why we didn’t do it too. It has given us a new-found confidence, and confidence is sexy 🙂 My favorite change, though, is that we can finally embrace our differences as individuals and find incredible strength in that. Our differences are what make us so powerful together. What a beautiful thing!
We are SO proud of this new beginning, and absolutely can not wait to debut the all-new Reid & Brittany brand in just a couple of weeks!! We will also be debuting a surprise project that we started exactly a year (yesterday) in Italy!! To find out when we launch, just follow us on Facebook and Instagram!