During the process of revamping our Donna Santos Studio website, I came to realize that we also needed to come up with a new brand image. I had one main objective –  to tell a visual story that Donna Santos Studio is expanding to meet our clients diverse media needs.

My objective seemed simple enough to tackle, but little did I know just how challenging the whole journey would be. I had to come up with one unifying idea and image that would translate on many levels.

CHALLENGE # 1 – I; Donna Santos, has been the sole image of Donna Santos Photography since its inception.

The fact that my name and face was THE brand didn’t seem like it was going to be much of a problem for me in the beginning. It wasn’t until the time came for my company to expand that I realized that my name was one of THE biggest challenges I had to address.

I met several business owners who also faced the same obstacles in building a brand around their name. They also knew what it is like when your name becomes a hurdle in trying to relay the concept of your company’s growth. They gave me a lot of valuable insight on what I was about to face.

I then quickly got to my feet and looked for experts in the field so I could get the ball rolling.  After having had several meetings with them – I then came to the conclusion that I should keep “Donna Santos” as the company name. I already had a client base that was familiar with the brand. To completely change it would just create confusion for clients and future problems for me in the long run.

My brand “Donna Santos”  stayed – but I did tweak it a little bit. My company was originally named Donna Santos Photography, and in 2013 I removed the word “Photography”– and replaced it with “Studio”.  I felt that the word “Studio” was able to better communicate the idea that my company has now evolved to more services than just photography.

Donna Santos Studio is now a full service production house that produces various media solutions for different client needs.

CHALLENGE # 2 – How to visually communicate ‘STUDIO’, and the company’s expansion of services in one image

As every business person knows – growth means the addition of more people to help tackle the growing needs of a company. With this in mind – I felt that by including my team and creative associates in the company image, it would capture the very essence of what Donna Santos Studio had now grown to be. This image introduces to my audience the various people they may encounter when they do business with the company. It also illustrates that each one of our team members have their own specialties based on what props they are using.  I believe that it also helps to manage potential clients’ expectations when it comes to our services.

storyboard with stick figures brining the multi-functional image to life

Stick figures have always helped in the concept process

CHALLENGE # 3 –  How to produce a multi-functional IMAGE that will give me the most flexibility for future expansion.

For the most flexibility in this image, I shot each team member by him/herself so that image can stand alone as a single image or as part of a collage like the one  you see above. Doing it this way has several advantages:

  • It’s easier to capture the perfect shot of a SINGLE subject rather than trying to capture the perfect shot of  MULTIPLE  subjects in the same frame.  In a frame of more than one subject I  would have to be mindful of each person’s poses and how it would relate to the whole picture.  In a shot with  just one person I can focus on just him/ her.   A story board is important when it comes to creating a photo collage – to help with consistency.
  • For future additions to the team, I no longer need to get everyone together again for the shot. All I would need to do is just take one photo of the new person. I just need to be mindful about being consistent in lighting, camera level, positioning and my other camera settings. This is to ensure that the new person would blend seamlessly into the whole picture.
  • Technically, we had a limited number of strobes to light the subject. Shooting each person separately, I was able to use the same minimal lighting set up over and over again.  It saved me money and time.  A big plus for me was that consistency was much easier to achieve.
single-shot-for-collage to be used in the multi-functional image

Sample of a single shot for the collage

collage-in-the-making to be used in the multi-functional image

Layout in Photoshop, keeping an eye on composition, scale and story

Photography is not just about the image. It is putting together idea, creativity, logistics and resources to execute a message that is truly unique to a brand. It sure is more than pushing a button.

*UPDATE – We have a new member of the Donna Santos Studio team! Marisa joins us as our new Accounts & Marketing manager. Check out the below updated multi-functional image to see how easy it was to add Marisa to the picture.

digital content created using multi-functional image technique

Marisa (our newest addition to the team) is easily added to the already existing photo.