Rebranding Andy
So in life, things change.

It can be a job. It can be a home. It can be a feeling. List goes on, all riddled with change.

The secret in life is not to run from change, but  to embrace it.

2 weeks ago I woke up from a dream. It was a dream every serious camera carrier has: Living the life of a professionally respected photographer, plain and simple. It was complete if minimal: I had the right gear (both DSLR and the Fuji ProX-1, my favorite guest in dreams since announced), was getting work travelling around and shooting enough to sustain a decent living in the business, with hope for future.

I’m optimistic enough to consider this a feasible future. Thing is, it’s not now and/or it’s not moving forward enough, so it’s still just a dream. So to get to that state of things, change is required in the status quo, either my own or in the world.

For the last few years I’ve been running my photo life out of under the “Foto Andy” name. It was a “personality” if you will, in the sense of being a public persona through which to learn and share under. And equally experiment under a pseudonym, with room to not fully “stamp” my own name over it until ready  (see Cook, Norman). Gotta try, or there is no win.

After that dream, I killed and murdered Foto Andy, without plan but also without regret to this day. Shut off the site and my various social channels without further word (aside from some quotes, which I consider photos of words)… *Bam*, you dead.

Why? In my dream,  as I ran around jobs, put work out there both online and off, there was a constant: No “Foto” Andy, just Andy. I woke up with the clarity that that day must come eventually, so why avoid change needed to make it happen? Also, make it quick and painless, the better to move forward with speed.

And from that change comes the fun part. The fresh start, the clean palette, the inspiration that craves consideration. Reboot, rewind, remix: The choice is yours…

The Moral: Anything is possible.

Clarity

I doubt I’m alone (especially among the other upcoming creatives) in confronting challenge in branding, much less seeing it clearly when you ARE the developer/marketing/promo team. What to share? How much? What way to show/tell? Do you present yourself, the identity you want associated with your works, or something beyond?

Even once you pass the first round of this fundamental start-up chore, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. So whether you’re starting up, refining, or fully rebooting you brand, you need to look at the situation objectively.

For me, clarity was inspired by the dream I had. While it drove many thoughts about my brand already sitting in my subconsious (“Foto Andy” or Andy McSweeney, website/viewing portal refinements, associations from early learning… yes, watermarks…), the main challenge was verifying it via objective reflection and testing. And my dream was centered on clarity, so I grew it from there.

The Moral: Find your fundamental focus, what works best for you and the work you produce.

Who Are You?

To me, the essence of marketing is defining and sharing a person, product, or brand with simplicity and clarity.

When you’re rebooting your public/online persona, it’s a precious chance to look fresh at all aspects of what you’re telling the world, and how. I wanted to use that chance for a fresh look. I asked a few trusted friends for advice, shopped around for advice from pros, and took a hard look at everything in my photographic world:

  1.  Name & Brand, obviously: What was (and now *am*) I trying to say?
  2.  Presentation. How do people see my site/main viewing portal?
  3.  Social Profile: How and how much am I out there talking things up with the world?
  4.  Previous works/brand/profile: What helps, what hurts? What should stay, what should go?
  5.  What’s next?

1. Foto Andy was my go at expressing my love for photography that inspires the soul (ergo the arty-farty “Foto”) coming first in the name and my life, and that… well, I’m Andy. I believed at the time that, while I have my own life story of travel and creative experience among other moments, my role as photographer was secondary to the image and/or moment they were looking at. The Andy I’m giving you now is me, pure and simple.

2. While I was happy with the point I had come to over the last 5 years of developing my own website (and keeping it as my main viewing portal into the Facebook age), there are tradeoffs to any do-it-yourself, and my work was no exception.

So, paid out for and set up a new theme and photo system, reset my photo libraries to the point of re-mastering most images from scratch, and reset the whole damn thing. The Dude abides.

3. “The Dude abides”, saying that is a bit of a personal, no? Yes, and your “personal” by getting out there (online and off) is part of the photographers life. While I’m generally pleased with this side of things as I step up promotion, I call Reboot Power to flip my my online handle to “Andy McPhoto”, only because “Andy McSweeney” is harder for most to remember in text. It will do for now, and a worthy tribute to Foto Andy…

4. Foto Andy. Is that such a terrible brand/persona to walk away from? No, not especially. However, Foto Andy was born and lived in a time of more experimental phase in my work, also when my confidence in myself and my shots was less than was correct. Equally, I’ve had photos

that have been due to publicly update for ages, but it took this reboot to get me focused on it properly. Combined with both a rebrand and sytem refit, it gives me the chance to update my work as it deserves, and for past viewers to take a fresh look at my, *ahem*, mad skillz.

5. What’s next? Now is what matters, life is not static like a photo. You can leave it behind (with respect and memory), and that’s just what I’m doing now. Take the best, dump the rest. Sure, it’s all short thoughts, but with long meanings. I’m tired of dwelling in the past, let push things forward…

The moral: Find what works, be honest with what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to own your work out loud (it’s not bragging!). If you love it, find the best way to express it with the world. Don’t dwell on mistakes, learn from them.

Hello (again) World, To the Future!

So here we are; Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. But it’s a new time on the clock…

The world will likely NOT end in 2012, but this planet IS heaving with change this year, small to big. The economy, the weather, the mindset, all is redefining how all is. Some of it connects to my change, some of it doesn’t, and that is the lay of the land either way.

I’m personally excited with times to come, for better or worse. There things both in my life and our global communities we need to fix, and like it or not: Change brings growth, growth brings change.

(Footnote: Wrote this last month when the reboot happened, but unable to give a reasonable final edit until now.) 

About the author

Andy McSweeney is a professional creative photographer from Montreal, Canada. After leaving Montreal in 1995 to explore the planet, over a dozen countries were home and even more visited. Based 10+ years in Brugge Belgium for his local lady, he runs daily photo walking tours via Photo Tour Brugge . AKA: Andy McPhoto, Foto Andy, DJ AndOman.

  • Photography Challenge: Flip it!
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