Erin Rachel Photography | Picayune MS High School Senior and Family Photographer serving the surrounding areas Mandeville LA, Covington LA, Slidell LA and the Northshore » Senior and Family Photographer covering Picayune, MS and Mandeville LA, Slidell LA and Covington LA. Offering Photography Classes and Workshops in the Picayune MS, Covington LA, Mandeville LA and Slidell LA area.

Brooke Boling {business.interview}

I am beyond thrilled to introduce to you Brooke Boling with Firecracker Studios!
A HUGE thank-you to Brooke for taking time out of her
crazy busy schedule to do this for us!
I “met” her almost a year ago when I started working with her on
my branding process for my photography business!
I loved her the moment that I knew she and I had the same taste.
She asked me to send her some pictures of things I had in mind.
I shot her an email back and I included a picture…
She replied asking if those were my bed sheets because she had the
exact same ones! Oh my gosh…I was embarassed that she knew that
I loved the sheets so much that I took a picture of them and she knew it! hahahaha
But it started a great process for me and I knew from that moment on
I could trust her. I think trust is the biggest issue in working with someone
because you are putting your thoughts, ideas, emotions, likes/dis-likes out there
to that person and they are taking all of that in to create something
that is you. That’s what we did and after almost a year I am still in love
with my branding!
Brooke is amazing and I hope you enjoy reading more about her businesses
and her life! She is great!

Grab a cup of coffee or iced tea and sit back and enjoy!! I hope you learn something
that helps you and your business!
1

First would you introduce yourself… I know you are married and have an adorable daughter so tell me about them too!
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Hello, my name is Brooke, and I’m a visual communicator. Ha!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It means so much.
I’ve worn many hats and done many things throughout my life—ranging from flipping burgers to being a singer/songwriter. Currently, I’m a wife, mother, daughter, branding and marketing person, photographer, art director, karaoke star, painter and more…I was married on September 29th 2007 to the most amazing and intelligent man. He blows me away each and every day with his creativity. Gregg challenges me mentally and also has a heart of gold. He’s a passionate man and if you ever get the chance to meet, you’ll never be able to forget him.

As you can imagine, with two creative brains constantly concepting new ideas, things never get boring around our house. But our best idea to date has been our decision to have a baby. Our little girl Parker is a typical BUSY two-year-old—full of energy, joy and wonder. She is the light of our life and it’s so much fun to see what each new day brings.
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2

Well lets jump right in to the business side of things…tell me a little bit about your business and what you would consider your forte to be!

I actually run three businesses. Yes Three. I know I am a crazy person.

FIRECRACKER
Powerful Brand Creative
http://firecrackerstudios.com

BROOKE BOLING PHOTOGRAPHY
Lifestyle and Wedding Photography
http://brookeboling.com
http://blog.brookeboling.com/

FIRECRACKER STYLE GROUPS
Website Templates for Photographers
http://firecrackerstylegroups.com

After school, I spent a great deal of my career working as an advertising art director. I started off at an agency in Atlanta working on tons of campaigns and photo shoots. I also did lots of freelance art direction for a fashion magazine. After about five years, I moved to San Francisco to work for Target. There I spent most of my time working on various ad campaigns and photo shoots. In 2002, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work as an art director for a record label. Not long after that, I started doing freelance art direction for various musical artists. I also worked for a local agency for a short time before deciding to finally step out on my own with Firecracker in 2005.

My forte? Well, I’ve probably spent a quarter of my life surrounded by crews on photo sets. From fashion to commercial to product to music—I’ve done it all. That’s probably why my communications style has always been visually oriented. It’s probably how I ended up forming a full time photography business as well. (I guess that’s the passion kicking in.)

I don’t like to do anything half way and I’m very detail-oriented. I’m the one on set making sure all the little details are addressed while also eliminating the unnecessary. I am probably the girl that will pull the fuzz off your sweater in the midst of making sure everything else is moving. I might have a little OCD!

On the other hand, I realize that beauty is in the small things, the things you sometimes see in the periphery. It’s contrast that I look for. Sometimes the fuzz on the sweater is okay—but you better have darn good hair and make-up.
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3

How did you get started with branding? what led you to this business? and how did it become your passion?

As a child, I always knew I was creative. Most kids are—but the passion just never went away for me. I guess I started really noticing my interest and talent for visual communications as a youngster in my hometown of Kirkland, Washington. My mother used to volunteer for the Kirkland Creative Arts Center and she always had me design the signs to promote events. By the time I was a teenager, I was certain of the fact I was a visual artist.

I think for many in this business, the passion is just there. For me, it’s the passion—that gut instinct—that has guided me along the way.

In college, I started off majoring in architecture, but I knew that wasn’t right. I switched to advertising, but my professor didn’t quite know what to do with me either. (He was used to students that were focusing on the business and analytics vs. the creative.) He was a great mentor though, and he was the one who found a great opportunity for me at another school in Atlanta called Portfolio Center.

Portfolio Center is an amazing school that is constantly redefined by its staff and students. The program is led by seasoned industry professionals who teach the students to never blend in. They not only taught me all the rules and how to break them—but also how to make my own rules. I consider myself lucky to have had this education. It was NOT easy but I walked away with an invaluable sense of the business. Check it out here. http://www.portfoliocenter.edu/
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4

What would be the number one “piece of advice” to tell someone when they are starting to brand their business?

First of all, while it’s where many start, a brand is not a logo. In fact, a brand is a promise. It’s a promise that comes from having an in-depth understanding of your customer and his or her needs. It’s a promise that you deliver by having a fluent conversation with that customer instead of just talking to them. A strong brand creates a powerful, emotional connection with its audience. Making and maintaining that connection is what the branding process is all about.

I know that sounds deep, but it’s what drives my number one piece of advice: Hire a professional to do your branding.

Don’t try to do it yourself. Do your research, find a designer with a good portfolio and a good reputation and then invest in your future. It’s important that it’s your vision. And it’s okay—even recommended—for you to have tons of creative ideas and be part of the process. But prep yourself to share that creative direction and then trust, trust, trust the designer. It’s always better to give input on the front end and then trust rather than taking the “I’ll know it when I see it” approach.

It always amazes me when I hear stories of smart business people who don’t think it’s important enough or attempt to save money by doing their own logo & branding. It makes about as much sense as doing your own root canal!
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5

Can you tell us a little bit about the whole branding process with a new client? Maybe just briefly what the steps are to the end result.

It’s a complex process, but it really is a mix of art and science. Here’s a very simplified breakdown:

Step One: Review your vision & business goals. At this point, I don’t know your customers or your business process. I also don’t know what makes you different. Having all this clearly defined is the key to developing an outstanding brand.

Step Two: The discovery process. I want to know everything from your favorite color to your pet peeves. It’s also important to gain an understanding of your personality. The best way to visually help me get there is by putting together a brand board. Pull visuals out of magazines and off the web and take photos for reference. This helps us get into your head and helps insure we are on the same page with vibe and overall direction.

Step Three: Let us go to work. This is where the magic happens. While the number of options and rounds depends on the agreement, we usually present concepts in black and white first. This allows you to evaluate all the candidates more objectively. Once the options are narrowed down, we come back with a color version. Then we move to other executions or finalize depending on scope.

Step Four: Living the brand. The branding process only begins with the logo. Living up to it is entirely your responsibility.
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6

How do you juggle your personal life, family life and business life?

Oh…the ultimate question. The answer is…I don’t. I have to constantly work on this one. Bottom line and I am going to be honest, this is my biggest challenge. I am a workaholic but I also want to spend all my time with my daughter and husband. As much as I hate to be on a tight schedule, I find I have to plan things like working out and meals in order to get in all the things I want to do. Give yourself a routine and stick to it.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m going to lose it if I spend one more minute at the Mac. I strongly believe in vacations WITHOUT computers. I took a trip last spring to Italy for 10 days with no computer. It was amazing. I also love to walk and do Bikram yoga. This helps with the balance but in no way do I have this one mastered. I will let you know when I get it figured out. {smile}
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7

Just a little something personal… What are some of your favorite things to do outside of business? What would be a one of your weaknesses when it comes to treating yourself? Whether it’s something you love to eat, buy or do!!!

Some of my favorite things to do….hmmm there’s a lot. I am a music lover. I love live music and playing guitar and singing. At one point in my life I wanted to be a country singer but decided to keep my day job. HA! Now I just like going out on the town with girlfriends to sing karaoke.

I love a good back yard hang with good wine, food and friends. Really simple things make me happy like rain on a tin roof, Sundays, a clean house and yard (kind of obsessed with having fresh mulch and flowers in my yard), my 2 dogs, laughing with friends, dive bars and doing things for others…good deeds. Here’s a link to my music on itunes. Check out “If it Rains” this song pretty much sums it up. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/when-the-circus-leaves-town/id280847442

My husband is a collector and I am a minimalist. I would be fine with 2 pairs of good fitting jeans and a couple of white tank tops…but SHOES are probably my weakness. Oh and I love candles too and splurge on the good ones. No Apple cinnamon waxy business going on in my house.

My biggest splurge of all is travel. I was hooked at a young age. My dad was an airline captain and my mother was a flight attendant for 40 years. The rewards were nice as a child but now that I am a big girl I want to travel as much as I can. AND it MUST be near water.

I hope you find Brooke just as amazing as I do!!!
Leave a comment below…just let us know what was your favorite
piece of advice that helped you out the most!
I will have a random drawing for a $15 Starbucks gift card on Wednesday
March 23rd. The winner will be announced {here} So leave a comment and let your other photographer friends
know about the interview!

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  • Faith - What an awesome interview! Thank you Erin & Brooke for sharing such great information! :) I found Brooke’s branding process with new clients to be especially helpful. :)

  • Brooke Boling - Thank you Faith. 😉

  • Sara - Wow! Amazing interview! Great info and really inspiring. Never thought about “branding”

  • Arancha - I love what she said about what branding is: not a logo! It is so true!

  • Sarah - Great interview, Erin! I really appreciated Brooke’s definition of branding. Keep doing these kinds of interviews. 😉 They’re very helpful.

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