The photography industry is filled with amazing creative leaders. There are studios that get their brand identity just right. It is very easy to look at these brands, watch them, and then (accidently) try and replicate them. I know first hand, how enticing that can be. Building an online brand is a daunting task, but looking for inspiration outside of the photography field might be the kind of spark your creative juices need.

Here are a few areas I encourage my clients to look to for inspiration. And some examples of how we brought them to life.

1) Fashion: (My own go to muse) Studio Diana, wanted a magazine feel to their brand, and sent the following vision board.

photographer branding inspiration board

We saw eloquently fashionable, classically influenced, boutique and sophisticated, with hints of vintage playfulness.

This is how it translated to their custom blogsite:

photographer branded websitephotographer website

2) Architecture/Interior Design: We tend to think of our custom websites as buildings/spaces. Designing the whole experience, how your client is lead through your work, rather than just the front door. In finding a catalyst for her brand, our client, a fashion stylist, sent me a photo of the showroom for Trina Turk. She said simply, “This room is my brand.”

inspirational image for chic branding

We saw subtle, almost monochromatic yet very feminine color, retro influence, rooted in the classics with a regal playfulness…and those gorgeous illuminated orbs.

This is how it translated to her blog design:

website branding for la stylist mom

3) Fine Art (other than photography): paintings, sculptures, ceramics. When trying to create different inspiration boards for The UnBride, I looked to fine art as my motivation and designed whole wedding themes using the color palette, time period, and/or ethnic influence. Below is an inspiration board for a Frieda Kahlo influenced Day of the Dead Wedding using her own “Wedding Portrait”:

fine art inspiration board for branding

There are so many other artforms and places to look outside of photography for inspiration. Music, film, furniture design, food…oh how I would love for someone to hand me a delicious dish and say “this is my brand”…hint, hint.

Frank Gehry used a crumpled up piece of paper and the sails of a boat as his inspiration for Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He is truly his own architect and is quoted as saying, “Not every person has the same kinds of talents, so you discover what yours are and work with them. Don’t try to be me, or try to be Frank Lloyd Wright, or try to be I M Pei. Try to be yourself. You have to understand what drives people to build buildings.”

Remember that you are an artist, the camera is just your medium. You just have to understand what inspires YOU and what drives you to photograph. That is how you will define your brand.

Written by Ellen Petty

Ellen Petty is the Head Brandslinger at Identity Kitchen, a marketing and design studio specializing in photographers. She and her business partner Marty Thornley just launched a new line of affordable all-in-one WordPress portfolio sites designed specifically for professional photographers at
Come visit Ellen Petty at the Photography Blogsites booth #1453 at WPPI. You can chit chat about your brand, WordPress, SEO, and grab some sweet treats!

Photo credits:

Studio Diana: Michelle Williams, Marie, Style Me Pretty

LA Stylist Mom: Trina Turk

Day of The Dead: Etsy: Feather and Bloom, Etsy: Aida Coronado,, Mexican Sugar Skull, Neiman Marcus


  • Regina Marie says:

    This is perfect. I’m in the very beginnings of really working out my brand. This is the kind of info I really need. Though I’d love to work with a branding specialist, as a stay-at-home mom, I’m needing to do it on my own for now. I needed the kick in the pants to look all around, not just at my work.

  • Chris says:

    It is quite difficult to toe the line of your own style and the style of your client. I’m hoping to perfect having a signature style across all my photography whilst maintaining the individuality of each client.

    Large dream, but I think I’m starting to make some progress. 😀

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