Help me, I am going round in circles trying to come up with a name for my wedding photography business!
[C]hances are that this will be the first big decision of your wedding photography career and terrifyingly it comes right at the beginning. Let’s face it, you can’t really implement any of the rest of it without setting this so before the question utterly overwhelms you, let’s have a look at your choices.
YOUR NAME PHOTOGRAPHY. Of course you could simply go with your name. Let’s pretend you are called Lisa Devlin. Lisa Devlin Photography, sounds alright eh? Except even for a relatively uncommon name like mine there can be cross-overs and I can easily be confused for another very lovely UK wedding photographer called Lisa Devine Photography. (I’m not going to get too into that one time a groom called me screaming about why was I not at his wedding in Scotland when I was actually in the shower at home in Brighton. He had the wrong Lisa and the wrong timings BTW). The more common your name, the more likely it is that you will be mixed up with another photographer with a similar name. So maybe look at using your first and middle name. This works super well for our mentor Lisa Brown who shoots as Lisa Jane Photography.
NAME PHOTOS. After the shower incident, I don’t tend to go by Lisa Devlin Photography now. I reverted back to Devlin Photos which is what I called my company when I shot music. Why Devlin Photos? Well one of the very first music magazines that I approached looking for work said that they didn’t use female photographers as they were too temperamental. WTF? So I sent my portfolio in as just Devlin and bagged a job with them. From then on I was always known simply as Devlin. This was particularly ironic for me as I hated the name growing up. It’s a Catholic surname but I went to an all protestant school so you can imagine the implications that had. But eventually I grew to be really proud of Devlin as I got more and more credits in magazines and on album covers.
Another reason that Devlin Photos works for me is it very concisely incorporates my name and what I do. Look at my ad on Rock n Roll Bride. That is enough to tell viewers who I am and that I’m a photographer. And when it comes to adding SEO to my images and my site, I’m one step ahead of the game. All my image files get renamed to be whatever-venue-couple-name-devlin-photos. So searches for photos of Whatever Venue should pull up my images and what do couples look for before everything else? You got it.. venues. You see how a very simple tweak could give you a lot more benefits? But let’s look at some other options.
SOMETHING PICTURES. This is another one of my favourite ways to name your company. ‘Pictures’ implies so many romantic things, movies, art, drawings. Devlin Pictures didn’t sound right to me but one of my favourite examples is September Pictures, a husband and wife duo. September is my favourite month and I love all the implications this name has. It works very well for their brand. So while we are on the subject what about if you are in a duo?
THE SOMEBODIES. When husband and wife The Kitcheners did a workshop with us at Photography Farm, I kept getting their company name wrong. At the time it was Kitchener Photography but to me they were just The Kitcheners. I guess a few other people felt the same as they have now switched and it really suits them. They are very well established, so don’t need the ‘photography’ bit. Their brand is very strong and their work is instantly recognisable. I see lots of The Somebodies around and that’s cool but what if you are in a duo but not as marrieds? I adore Mike + Tom for their work and their ‘best husband and wife duo… IN THE WORLD’ biography. Also The Twins Kelly and Caroline who shoot together and are, you guessed it twins.
SLIGHTLY RANDOM NAME. So maybe you don’t love your own name, or you sometimes shoot with your partner sometimes don’t or you think that you want other people to be able to go out and shoot for you at some point. Naming your company with a Slightly Random Name can work well. Some of my favourites are Simple Tapestry over in Northern Ireland plus Tub of Jelly and Rooftop Mosaic up in Scotland. However, Slightly Random Name can also open up a whole other can of worms. Atlanta based Matt Miller who shoots under another excellent Slightly Random We Are Diamond Eyes was once a part of Our Labor Of Love, a super cool collective of wedding photographers in the US. Someone here in the UK then set up as Our Labour of Love in what I assume was an attempt to cash in on the US company’s glory. (Boo!) Our very own Adam Bronkhorst thinks that people can never spell his surname so he shoots under Viva Wedding Photography but Viva is a super common name for a business. There is a TV channel, a car, a hotel chain, a vegan organisation, a magazine and another photographer in the UK called Viva La Wedding. Yes I’m always arguing with him that he should change it.
Once you do settle on it, is there anything you can do to protect your company name? You can register it as a Trade Mark in the UK. However it’s a complicated business and what if it’s a photographer in Europe or across the world that sets up with a similar name to you? To register your Trade Mark in all of Europe or worldwide is an expensive and time consuming operation. You either have to go country by country or pay a specialist solicitor to do it for you. Is it worth it? Well suppose I registered Lisa Devlin Photography and another Lisa Devlin wants to set up as a photographer up the road from me. There is nothing I can do to stop her from working under her own name. So maybe I register Slightly Random Name, do I have more rights? In theory yes but recently one of our Farmers was contacted by a wedding photographer in Australia using a very similar name to her company. He is The Something and Something, she is The Something and The Something. He accused her of stealing his brand but a little digging showed that she thought of it first. They just had a very similar idea at around the same time and even if either company had Trade Marks in their own country there is nothing that can be done internationally. When it comes to Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, they are both just going to have to do their best to make their own brands stand out.
So are you any closer to making a decision? My advice is just get on with chosing something and then get on with establishing your brand in lots of other ways. Yes the name is important but don’t let thinking about it get in the way of you cracking on with your career. You are not Gap or Nike, if you ever do want to change it further down the line, it’s not a huge deal.
Words and Slightly Random Images by Lisa Devlin at Devlin Photos