Branding in Landscape Photography

Solitude - Explored

From the lowly beginner to the semi-professional, it seems that the majority of photographers are doing it these days. What am I talking about? Watermarks on digital images of course, which usually take the form of a stylised logo. The reasons behind this are at least twofold.

Firstly, there is the fear of image theft, or unauthorised use. A reasonable fear because it does happen…a lot. Secondly, many landscape photographers like to build an identifiable ‘brand’ to make them appear more professional to the general public. Have they really thought it through or just used the reasoning that “That’s what professional photographers do isn’t it”? I can understand why wedding or event photographers would want to build their ‘brand’, they are, after all, almost entirely commercial ventures, but isn’t landscape photography art? It is viewed as such in America but not so much here in Britain. I think many of my British counterparts also feel that their work is art, but if they don’t approach their photography as such then it’s little wonder that in this country we lag behind our transatlantic cousins. If we don’t value our work for what it is then is it not unreasonable to expect anyone else to either?

Yes, I really can’t stand the idea of branding in Landscape photography, but in its defence I will say this; in an age where the art is awash with folk taking the same photographs of the same places, using the same processing methods it enables viewers, at a glance, to see who actually took the shot! Food for thought, but a different subject for a different day maybe!

It’s true that there are some god awful photographs out there replete with logos. They are so bad that the likelihood of them being stolen is woefully small, but there are also some very accomplished people cheapening their work in this way. As with most ‘artists’, ego plays a part. Whether consciously or not, photographers like to feel special (I’m no different in that respect), and a groovy logo helps…or so they would like to think.

I refuse to put a logo on my images. Let me tell you why you will never see a logo adorning my work. I am not in the least bit bothered by the thought of someone making unauthorised use of them. They do it often, and if I find out about it a strongly worded request to desist usually works. If it doesn’t then where possible I send them a bill. However, image security is the least of my worries.

The biggest issue for me is my motivation for taking photographs. At the risk of repeating myself, the overriding reason for my photographic endeavours is to express my love and respect for my subject. The landscape is the star, not me. The landscapes I operate in are (in every way) much more impressive and interesting than I am and have taught me a modicum of humility. They inspire me; they move me. The branding in my photography is there for all to see, but it doesn’t take the form of a corporate logo; it is unthinkable for me to brand my work as if it were a packet of biscuits or a bottle of toilet cleaner. My aim has always been to develop a recognisable style so that anyone seeing one of my images can say “Yes, that’s a Livesey” without the need for any extraneous cues. I am not so naive to think that art and commerce are mutually exclusive, but I find it wholly distasteful to so blatantly marry the two. Think about it for a moment…

Before I go (the pub is sounding a clarion call) I’d like to say that this post has been written in an effort to encourage some thought and consideration from my fellow landscape photographers. I would urge those just starting out, who think that branding is an essential part of the process because everyone else seems to be doing it, to look at the online presence of some of the leading lights of the British scene, Joe Cornish, Colin Prior and Charlie Waite to name but three.

Tell me what you see…
Late Light on Llewelyn - Explored

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~ by nicklivesey on May 25, 2014.

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