Why You Need Quality Photography

Photo: Maryatt Photography

One of my favorite outdoor shoots

Emily Maryatt from Maryatt Photography did a shoot downtown Seattle at The Old Rainier Brewery for an urban city vibe and LOVED the shots she got.

As an indie artist, it’s easy to get caught up in the process of writing, rehearsing, performing, and repeat. But with social media dominating the world these days, documenting these steps in a QUALITY way is imperative to keep people engaged and legitimize you as an artist/brand. Here are tips to get started investing in your online image..

FIND A FEW LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Don’t know any? Ask around, post on facebook, take note of other artists/band pictures you like, find the photographer (usually credited in the photo) and reach out for rates! If your budget is tight, and your roommate or college friend is a photography hobbyist, go do practice shoots and help each other get better. You always want to have at least 1-2 people to call up to shoot shows, promo shots for new music coming out, or to just do candids of whatever project you’re working on.

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My husband took this.

We spent about an hour cruising around our neighborhood and got some great shots! Photo edited in Lightroom.

IG: @legaloutwest (Jake George)

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Triple Door Show:

This pic and most of the promo ones I used from this show are by the amazing Sunny Martini.

IG: @sunnymartini

GO DO A SHOOT…LIKE NOW:

Not sure where to start? Grab a local photographer you like and schedule a shoot. This is the perfect place to begin collecting good content and thinking about where you’d like to use it. Your website, Instagram, anything that promotes you and your music will always need current and quality photos. There’s no such thing as having too many options. So even if you have nothing coming out or revamping your image seems daunting, a good photoshoot is great way to get motivated and start somewhere.

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In-House Shoot

I grabbed Stephanie Severance and stylist Nikki Cloud to do a shoot at my house. We had a great time playing with light and outfits to get a ton of great content.

PLAN OUT THE PICTURE:

How many times have you gone through your phone or other people’s posts after a show trying to find one that captures the evening? Instead of leaving it up to chance, plan out a couple good shots and have someone be intentional in taking them. Getting a better angle, lighting, etc. can make all the difference. Putting some thought into what you want to convey from the event or show should be automatically part of putting the show together.

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Playing with color.

Jake and I wanted to try out some photo props that were teetering on corny but were surprised how fun the final product looked.

USE EDITING SOFTWARE:

If your budget is tight and all you have is a phone – no problem! Luckily, we have lots of apps and programs that can help a good photo become a great one. Lightroom is my favorite and super easy to use. Lightroom has presets, not unlike Instagram but were designed by professional photographers. Use one of those presents to make your pic pop or create your own by adjusting the settings to your liking. Even a little editing can go a long way!

Here’s a picture I took of myself with my iPhone 7 before and after editing it on Lightroom…

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So do what you can to get out there and amp up your pictures! I can’t stress enough the difference it makes to your followers, image, and business! 

Much love,

Susan G

Building Bridges to Build Your Brand

HOW TO UTILIZE NON-MUSICAL OPPORTUNITIES TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND

I have been a lifestyle writer for a few years now and while I love writing about fitness, humor, and the best-kept secrets in Seattle for local publications, I sometimes struggle with how to tie everything back to what I care about the most, my music! Between Youtube, blogs, Facebook, etc. it can feel like the content ends up splitting the audience as opposed to driving them back to a main site. However, through partnerships and diversifying what I do, that ultimately helps drive awareness to my brand, even when it may seem unrelated.

I recently agreed to write an article about holiday shoes for a local publication, Bellevue Lifestyle and Neiman Marcus provided the shoes and clothes for the shoot. I had the BEST time trying on uber fancy outfits and feeling super fly in some of the best designers around. However, I feel it imperative to state that I am not a model by any means and decided to get out of my comfort zone for the experience. You know that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie agrees to model for Dolce and Gabbana? That felt all too familiar when I was telling the Neiman Marcus rep that I would need “normal people sizes” and felt it necessary to reiterate that I am not, nor am I trying to be a model. :) The increased sizes aside, I am so glad I did it because I had an amazing time, got some great content out of it, and will be tagging Bellevue Lifestyle and Neiman Marcus in all my posts about it, which just builds credibility and shows other brands what I can offer.

The point is, do it! Seek out and don’t shy away from these opportunities because they can only help you. Here are some tips that have allowed me get out my comfort zone and get to out-of-the-box thinking…

1) Always say Yes to a meeting:

Even when I’m not sure if I want to participate in something, more times than not when I sit down or have a call with the person pitching the opportunity, I find that there are more overlaps and angles for a partnership than I originally thought. And if not, it doesn’t hurt to come up with creative solutions yourself and then pitch those as a secondary option. Even if you ultimately decide to decline, you never know when making that connection can turn into something down the road.

2) Know your brand:

Only you know if something is a good fit for you and your brand. If you’re a punk rocker, it probably wouldn’t make sense to partner with an Americana Hat company. There have been times earlier in my career when I said yes to something, got the product, and realized the quality wasn’t something that I could promote. That makes things a lot more awkward than just declining the first time around. If there’s a product or brand you already love and use for live shows or practice, reach out to them to see if they need reps to use a new product at your next show.

3) Cross-promotion is key:

The whole point of partnerships is to expand your audience! Both for you and the brand or company you’re partnering with. That’s what make collaborations so powerful these days is the fact that musicians already have a following so if you do a duet with someone in your same genre or record a song with someone in a totally different one, you can double or triple the exposure by tagging each other when you promote the final product.

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4) Get out of your comfort zone

Like I mentioned above, I am not a natural model nor (like most women) am I completely happy with my body - we ALL have insecurities and a lot of times the ones we obsess the most about are the ones that other people don’t even notice. But if you don’t ever push what you’re comfortable with, you’ll stay in the same spot. Obviously it’s OK if something just isn’t a good fit for you, but if the only thing that’s holding you back is YOU, don’t let those thoughts win. You’ll be surprised where those experiences will take you and what you’ll learn.

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So basically, the key is to not only always be open to new opportunities, but be on the lookout for angles, campaigns and partnerships that would benefit both you and who you’re working with. We live in a world where social media has no limits so take advantage of the fact that there’s a whole audience at your fingertips! Also, look out for the December issue of Bellevue Lifestyle to see all the amazing winter shoe looks from Neiman Marcus!

Much love,

-SG

Story Behind the Song: No Limits

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I haven’t been this excited about a song in a long time. I feel like most of the time when I release new tunes, but this song in particular will be the biggest departure from anything I’ve done before. I tend to only write ballads (which is pretty easy to do when piano is your main instrument) but a huge part of me loves cheesy pop music that forces you to dance or at least bob your head to the beat. With this track, we tried to combine my love of 90’s Pop and R&B with a contemporary alternative hip-hop vibe and I can’t wait for people to hear it!

For those who don’t know about the process of releasing a song or album, there is a pretty standard method involved that requires the following: mixing and mastering, album art, distribution, release timeline, and promotion. Usually, at least in my case, I start with what I want the end result to be and work backwards. However, being a big picture dreamer, my desired end result and reality often have to fight against one another before they reach an acceptable landing spot together.

For example, in my head, I had a vision of the cover art consisting of some version of me standing on a glass floor high above the city with amazing views and neon lights everywhere. Given I had about a week to pull it off, I settled for using the amazing lookout points around Seattle to get the same feeling of being high above the city lights. My husband Jake and I headed downtown one random weeknight and decided to do some test shots to see which area/setting we liked the best. I hadn’t intended on any of these shots being very useable but that’s the beauty of art and creativity - you never know when a little magic and destiny will take over and put your original vision to shame.

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The street we were on has always been a favorite of mine.

I used to run it all the time. A string of Parisian looking streetlights border this one descending street that overlooks the water and comes to an end at one of Seattle’s most famous views, Kerry Park. The sun was setting, the street lamps automatically came on, and the combination made for some pretty cool looking shots.

It wasn’t until we were editing the pictures that Jake realized the very streetlight I had chosen to lean against was one he had not only seen before but had significant sentimental value. He lost a good friend in high school to cancer and the number 12, (his friend’s sports number) has served as a reminder to those who loved Jeff and a way to honor him and his memory. Years earlier, the bold ’12’ that marked that street lamp caught Jake’s eye. He snapped a picture and sent it to Chris, Jeff’s brother and Jake’s best friend for decades.

We had already liked the direction the editing was going with this specific picture and once we realized the significance of where we randomly decided to shoot, it seemed like more than a coincidence. I knew at that moment I had to use that image as the cover art. Especially since the song was inspired by how Jake and I dream together, it made us feel like Jeff was there with us rooting us along our journey.

They say that art imitates life and it’s moments like this where that couldn’t be more true.

That’s what I love about creating…

Have a vision and a plan, yes, but when you don’t fight where you’re being lead, there are these beautiful moments along the way that could be missed otherwise. This life is short. Dream big and let the journey lead you to wherever you’re meant to be!

To see daily updates, follow me on instagram! I'd love to hear your story and what you're creating - reach out to me on socials or email info@susangblog.com.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

-SG

How to Utilize Brand Partnerships for Shows

 Outfit Sponsored by Peridot Boutique, Seattle.

Outfit Sponsored by Peridot Boutique, Seattle.

When I was younger dreaming about my music career and getting a degree in creative writing, I really had no concrete idea of what my actual job would be one day. I'd watch VH1's "Behind the Music" and envision my friends talking about our adventures as clips of me singing on stage in front of thousands of people came in and out of their interviews...you know, staying very grounded in reality. :) But now with blogging and music taking up most of my time every day, I feel incredibly fortunate and finally have an answer for everyone that asked "So...do you want to be a teacher?" when I told them I was an English major. Among the many perks of being a content creator, one of my favorite things about being a blogger/musician is by far, brand partnerships! This is a fairly new endeavor for me but is quickly becoming something that excites me almost as much as my music and cross-promotion with people and products I believe in, makes it a win for everybody. I recently played at the West Seattle Beer and Music Festival and the experience was a perfect example of all of that.

Peridot Boutique in Queen Anne, Seattle has been my favorite for years! They dressed me from head to toe (with the guidance of my amazing stylist extraordinaire, Quinn Barker) and had a blast on stage in their clothes!

Not only do they have amazing looks, accessories, and seasonal trends, they also have the best candle in the world.

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Volcano Candle from Capri-Blue

that I will never not be obsessed with.

However, candles aside, I was THRILLED to partner with Peridot for the festival!

I had a blast on stage in their clothes! It's hard to find styles that look great when I'm performing but that are comfortable to stand and dance in - especially since I much prefer a sneaker to a stiletto. I all but drooled over these Dolce Vita Snakeskin Boots and they gave me a lift while still being comfortable for my entire hour set and beyond!

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Dolce Vita Boots

The full look consisted of:

Dolce Vita Boots: (@dolcevita)

Blazer: Kensie Clothing (@kensie_clothing),

Top: Lira Womens (@lirawomens),

Shorts: Volcom Womens (@volcomwomens),

Hat: Wyeth (@wyeth_usa)

Style: Quinn Barker

HMUA: Seattle Beauty Boss (@seattlebeautyboss)

Full Look Courtesy of Peridot Boutique Seattle

I loved getting to work with one of my favorite boutiques in the city and can't wait to share with you all my favorite looks, products, and brands in the future!

For brand partnerships inquiries, email info@susangblog.com

Much Love,

-SG