Branding Matters

Jason Stang - Focus on Your Brand's Image

November 26, 2021 Branding Badass Season 2 Episode 12
Branding Matters
Jason Stang - Focus on Your Brand's Image
Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Jason Stang - one of Calgary's, if not Canada’s, most celebrated photographers.

Frequently roaming between Calgary and New York City, Jason has done award-winning work for MTV, Sony Music Entertainment, the New York Times Magazine, and Tommy Boy, just to name a few.

I invited Jason to be a guest on my show to talk about the role photography plays in branding. I wanted to learn how he always manages to deliver what the client wants in a unique and visually interesting way. And I was curious to get his POV on what role photos play in the development of a brand story.

Joelly Goodson :

Hi I'm Joelly, your Branding Badass, and welcome to Season Two of Branding Matters. My guest today is Jason Stang, one of Calgary's, if not Canada's most talented and celebrated photographers. Frequently roaming between Calgary and New York City, Jason has done award-winning work for MTV, Sony Music Entertainment, The New York Times Magazine and Tommy Boy just to name a few. I invited Jason to be a guest on my show to talk about the role photography plays in branding. I wanted to learn how he always managed to deliver what the client wants in a unique and visually stunning way. And I was really curious to get his point of view on what role photos play in the development of a brand story. Jason, thank you so much for being here with me today. Welcome to Branding Matters.

Jason Stang:

Thank you very much. It's great to be here. I've not talked to you in a long time and looking forward to catching up.

Joelly Goodson :

I know I'm really happy to have you here today. I just want to give our audience a little bit of a background because it is kind of cool. So you and I know each other for I was trying to think probably 30 years ago when I was working in the advertising world, the first company well actually not the first happened. I think where you and I work together is probably when I was either at Caro at Ogilvy and Mather, one of those two and you were the twin MRI at first. I was at Carl first and you were the man around town when anyone needed a top photographer Jason Stang, that was the name that everybody knew. That's how I got to know you. And then when I went over to Ogilvy, we did some pretty big campaigns over there. And we worked with you there. And here we are, and then we lost touch like millions of people. And then 30 something years later, you get a message from me pop up in your account. And the reason I reached out to you not just because I want to talk about specifically about photography, but there's a really important campaign going on right now in Calgary, if not Alberta called own and it's all about own cancer, and I was really interested in them. Then I found out when I found out you were the photographer on it, and I love the photography, I just had to reach out to you. So thank you for agreeing to be on my podcast. I know you were a little bit nervous is the right word. But I don't know, do you do a lot of podcasts? Oh, no, no, no. Well, then. And then I'm even more I'm really honestly, Jason, I'm really touched and flattered and honored that you said yes. So let's get right into it. I want to know, when was the moment that you knew that you could not do anything else in your life other than photography,

Jason Stang:

That was dictated by a lack of ability in math. I always really wanted to be in marketing and advertising. And that whole industry was something that spoke to me back in the day, you did not really have much of a way of finding out much about that industry. You basically said okay, I'm gonna go to university and hopefully I can end up in marketing, get a degree a commerce degree in marketing. That's how I'm gonna get in advertise. So I was in marketing, I was taking commerce at the University of Calgary and I was doing reasonably well in the classes that I cared about. And really classes like the wieder classes like calculus and stuff like that I was bombing spectacularly. And at the same time parallel to this, I had a darkroom at home. And I was very much into photography. And I was working at a camera store to pay my bills. And I just had a sort of an epiphany weekend where I said, Screw it, I'm not getting into marketing by be calm, because I just won't be able to do it. I can't stand it. So I went and enrolled in art school decided I was going to become a photographer not really understanding that that is actually probably what I wanted to be all along. She was working on the creative side of ad work, and it sort of was the natural spot to be so it was never really a decision as much as it was a stumble.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, it's funny that you say that though. But then you said you had a darkroom at home. And I don't think everybody has a darkroom at home. So clearly, you must have been a passionate

Unknown:

About arts. And that's even in my brain. I was like, Okay, how can I commercially apply my artistic abilities and use my creative skills to find a career and this is pre internet. So a lot of that was just guesswork. You really didn't know where the jobs were how you got to them. The darkroom was a passion and thank God for my art marks because I think that's what kept me from getting kicked out of university. So it was sort of preordained.

Joelly Goodson :

So photography, though, was always in your wheelhouse as far as when you were a kid. I mean, I read, I read in your bio, where you joked about in the womb. So I was gonna ask you about

Jason Stang:

this think of all sort of naturally gravitated towards my mom's comes from a family of artists. There's always been art, my family, you know, I was also attracted, I think, to just the electronics and the interest of an SLR camera and the buttons and all that sort of stuff. When I was like, five, I was always the one who wanted to take the camera and take the photos on road trips and stuff with my family. I mean, I didn't know what I was doing. But I would point and shoot and click the button and think I was pretty good. So I find that's pretty good. Yeah, I grew in high school in high school, you're taking our classes and photography was one of the ones that really you know, that component of the art classes was probably my favorite. So it just sort of grew from there and started building a darkroom and I learned more and I read books and sort of ended up there.

Joelly Goodson :

Wow, that's amazing. So I read a quote, I read a quote But somewhere where you said photography, for me is more about creating the opportunity for the decisive moment to occur. I think that's a really interesting quote. Can you elaborate on that?

Jason Stang:

Well, it's sort of a play on the whole decisive moment. You know, Robert Osnos sort of ethos of photography, where they always talk about the decisive moment, and just being really ready to capture that fraction of a second when everything just falls into place. And that isn't really what I do, I build I create, sometimes it's building the set, sometimes it's finding the location, all those things, are there a bigger part than the actual pushing the shutter? The shutter is sort of a culmination to me, it's not really the it's just part of the process, right? And when you're an artist, and you're creating a piece of work, the creativity happens in your mind and in your heart in your head, right. And then the paintbrush just is a way for you to execute that. Is that kind of the same things? Exactly. It's yeah, it's the pencil, right or part of the pencil, whereas the guys that talk like the decisive moment, they're much more about capturing, being at the event, capturing that and finding the moment at the event, I tend to build the event and then make that moment happen. It probably a little bit of the difference between art photography and ad photography.

Joelly Goodson :

Right? Okay, interesting. And so would you say you're an ad photographer? I mean, you specialize in brands, right? That's where your specialty is not personal. I mean, you don't do you personal branding. Mostly just, I don't think there's a photographer alive who doesn't do a bit of everything. If you're truly a photographer that becomes your soul, like, I don't go anywhere without a bag of cameras. And you know, I might not use them, I might need a break. But generally, you're always seeing photos, right? So I gotta tell you a funny story back. This is gonna show my age now. But quite a few years ago, when I had a Blackberry, and my sister got one of the new blackberries, and it had a camera on it. And she was like, totally, I got this new BlackBerry. You got to see it's got a camera. And I remember at the time and I camera, I can't tell what year was, but I was like, Who the hell needs a camera on a phone? I mean, I have a camera and I have my phone. Why would I ever want one? And now? I can't even imagine not having their camera on their phone. So what's your take on taking pictures with your phone? And do you use your phone to take a lot of pictures?

Jason Stang:

I do a lot. I don't take pretty pictures with my phone. Not often anyway, I think mostly because I'm just a bit of a snob. Still, though. The reality is camera phones are quite good. Yeah, a lot of things they can do very well. Most people never look at an image anymore other than electronically, and you don't need the same sort of resolution. So the camera phones are fantastic. Especially the latest ones every time I see one. I'm like, Yeah, that's a few more jobs that won't be getting.

Joelly Goodson :

That was gonna be my next question is do you think with the introduction of the camera phones, specially you know, the iPhone? And now I think it's the iPhone, what 13? Has that affected you as a professional photographer?

Jason Stang:

It has an I mean, cuz everybody thinks they're a professional photographer now. Right? Well, that part, I don't think it hurts me too much. Because it gets back to what I say as I build my photos. For the most part, I'm building lights and building sets, I'm doing all this sort of stuff, that part is still really tough to the camera doesn't really matter so much. And any good camera will do. But what happens is, is the stuff that I used to get phone calls for like, Hey, can you come shoot this giant cheque being presented to somebody or whatever, I don't get those calls anymore. And I'm fine with that. Yeah. Typically, when you're doing those, you're doing it because it's a client that you've worked for. And you're like, Okay, I'll do this for you. Because either you don't want to open the door for another photographer, or you're just doing it as a favor no matter what. I don't miss those. There's no real joy for me in taking those. So I'm glad to let that stuff go.

Joelly Goodson :

Interesting. Okay, so let's talk about branding. Because we are the show is called Branding Matters. And that's why I brought you on here. So what role do you think photos play when it helps some brands to tell their story?

Unknown:

I think it's everything. Photos are far more effective than words. I hate to say that to somebody who is a writer. But people assume words can lie. People don't necessarily assume photos can lie. So when you're showing a photo of whatever it is, you have, they tend to look at it and go oh, yeah, I see that photo speak true, completely bullshit response because they don't speak truth. But people perceive they speak truth when

Joelly Goodson :

You say they don't speak truth are you referring to because of all the Photoshop and all the filters and everything else?

Jason Stang:

Well, that's part of it. Even back before all that photos were never truth. I mean, you made decisions. He didn't make as many decisions back then, you know, but we still had to pick the film we use the time of day we shot, how long the exposures were all those things contributed to making things look better than they were or even the lens selection or what we frame, you know, you can exclude a lot of things and just focus on the good things. And if you're working for a mining company, or if you just point the camera at the right direction, or you put the right stuff in the foreground, you can say a lot of things without really saying you don't have to actually say that you're just lying by omission sometimes, you know, you can leave stuff out, you could selectively show things and it's a way of controlling the narrative. The goal of all branding is controlling the narrative. Yeah, that's so true. And I mean, it's cliche to say, picture says 1000 words but I mean, it's true and never more so probably then it is with social media, right? Because people's attention span right now or like milliseconds. Yeah, that's exactly it our attention span to read the words. I guarantee you for every photo that's looked at it Instagram or there's 1000 photos looked at for everyone that somebody reads the caption on. Yeah, visuals are very much part of our lexicon. Now,

Joelly Goodson :

Speaking of social media, how has your business change with social media

Jason Stang:

Purely on a work level, the amount of work I produce is substantially higher, because of social and the demands for more imagery. And the demands for more photographs just go up exponentially. And there's a shift. If I had to photograph a vodka bottle for a vodka company, 20 years ago, that was a day, you took a day, you lit the vodka bottle, you made it perfect, you did everything, you would probably select half a dozen different vodka bottles to get the perfect label. And all these sort of things, it was a full process with social, that doesn't happen anymore, the demand for imagery is so high, and the currency value of those images is dropped substantially, you need to produce more, because they need more, and they can't really pay more, they're not going to pay to spend a day shooting a vodka bottle anymore. You can shoot 50 in a day, or 20 or 10. But there's that balance now of what they get for what they pay for. There's a lot more library where people just need assets.

Joelly Goodson :

Interesting. So what about stock photography,

Unknown:

It has a place and I'd be lying if I didn't say I made a fair bit of money off stock photography, it's sort of a race to the bottom now in that industry. Because there's so many there's so much being produced. When I started doing that as a side hustle, I guess to photography, the barriers to entry were fairly high, a good camera was 10, grand 15 grand now you could shoot stock photography with your iPhone, there's companies that specialize in iPhone stock photography, so it has a place a lot of companies now there's so many small companies, there's so many companies that need imagery, and so much demand for it that they can't pay for photoshoots. So I mean stock is a great option for areas where you can't afford to do otherwise, you just have to be very selective on when you use it. Because it's sort of just filler for the most part, you can find stuff that sort of mimics your brand or mimics your image. But generally no, it's a little bit of a substitute.

Joelly Goodson :

So is budget the reason usually people go with stock is because it's a lot less expensive?

Unknown:

Substantially less expensive speed, you can have it that day, you can have it right away, you don't have to organize, you don't have to do a lot of things like that the cost per image is down to dollars, not hundreds or pennies, even sometimes, you know, you should be using that when you need an image to fulfill a certain objective, and you can't afford to get a produce. And it's not going to matter. It's not going to be something that's brand defining or anything like that. It's just Oh look, you can pay online, here's a photo of somebody paying online or whatever it is you can do a lot of stock right now is people buying mask photos to show mask mandates and stuff like that. You don't want to go shoot that not if you're a small company, that's just too much effort, it's too much money, and it's not worth it. Now, conversely put something that fundamental to your brand, you should definitely look at investing in actual photography for those things. And why would you? Well, because you're trying to define your brand. And most stock today is royalty free, meaning it could appear anywhere. The image you picked up boosts your brand could also be the image to push whatever I point to one photo I took years ago and is a friend of mine. And it was an actual stock photo shoot that I had done for an agency years ago. And that photo, I think it's been downloaded 15 20,000 times. It's made me a fair bit of money.

Joelly Goodson :

So you make money every time it gets download?

Jason Stang:

Yeah

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, that's great.

Jason Stang:

Depending on the site you're on and stuff that image took off. And if you saw it, you'd probably recognize it. At one point, it was one of the top selling images on a stock. And we kept a running tally of where it appeared. And it would appear on ads for dentists but the best one was charcoal underwear for women who are flatulent when they fly. And it was a filtering. And I mean that oh my god. So imagine using that as your branding photo. And it's the same photo appearing for charcoal underwear.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, you know, it's interesting, you said, because that's exactly what I was thinking I've seen that I've gone on to websites, believe it or not, this is what really blew me away is I was on a website where I saw a stock photo for this brand. And I saw that photo somewhere else. And I remember thinking like, where else did I see before and I went back and I found it. In my opinion, I think it really dilutes the brand. When you see the same image throughout, like you just said, then that sort of, in my opinion, not only dilutes the brand, but it loses that sort of uniqueness,

Jason Stang:

Right. And that's sort of what I get back to is I mean, if it's a brand defining image, you're the last thing you want to use is stock. There's a lot of reasons to use stock. But if it's a brand of finding, like I said that image has been downloaded 16,000 times, imagine where that it's been. There's cases I remember somebody sent me a photo of two different ads using the same stock photo face to face in a newspaper.

Joelly Goodson :

I mean, terrible I know for sure. I mean, why do you make money off? I'm a little bit of a for that. Wow, that's crazy. So talking about that. I'm curious you know a lot of big part about branding is but connecting your brand with the audience, right is how do you make that connection? And especially now we talked about social media as being able to connect so what role do photos play and how do you as a photographer, help the brand connect through the pictures with their audience?

Jason Stang:

Well, the big thing is, so many businesses today are an extension of their owners. You know, there's a lot of small 123 person shops that are people trying to break out and establish something. And because you're an extension, the owners, they should be able to bring their personality into it. Whenever somebody asked me to shoot or play a part of that or consult or whatever it is, that's the first thing I look to is I look to okay, what is the aesthetic of the brand. And it doesn't have to be first and foremost, every time but it has to be recognized. And you have to understand can't go too far out of your lane. Because sort of how people identify if you stray too far, you're not telling people who you are. And so you have to sort of stay in your lane and make sure your imagery sort of reflects who you are, whether it's what type of lighting you use, what type of models, whether it's bright and airy, I mean, if you're a lifestyle clothing brand, you want to make sure you're true to who your wares are. If they're skateboarders, you want to be cognizant of that culture, when you're shooting it, all those things, you want to see them reflected in your photos.

Joelly Goodson :

It's an art form, right? I mean, art is about tapping into you on an emotional level. When you look at art, you take your mom's an artist, I come from a family of artists to an art, I mean, it's very subjective, but it's also very emotional. I don't know if I ever told you this. My dad was photography was his hobby and his passion. I mean, I think if he were to redo his whole career, he'd probably be a photographer. I was one of those kids that grew up where everything he did, he wanted to take pictures, and it was so annoying. But then we have pictures now of us all grown up, which is amazing. But anyway, but it was up but it was a very emotional, like you look at his pictures and you look at your pictures, I think Oh, mom is actually really good example that we're really taps into your emotion. I mean, that's a big part of branding is trying to connect on an emotional level. And I think with photography, trying to do that, I suspect is a real skill. It's not just snapping. Like you said, it's getting deeper than that. So let's use the OWN campaign because I think that's very relevant. And it's a very topical and it's beautiful. So cut. Let's talk about those pictures that you did. How are you able to? I mean, it's an emotional subject to begin with. But I'm curious to know how you were able to connect with the audience, help the brand help the OWN campaign really connect with their audience with your pictures?

Unknown:

OWN was an interesting one, because it's one of those ones you're like, Yeah, I want to be part of this. It's not one of those jobs where you're like, what's the final pay? There was no pay.

Joelly Goodson :

We shoul probably explain. Can you give a little briefing of what exactly the OWN campaign is?

Unknown:

OWN was put up by Daughter Creative, one of the smaller shops in Calgary that does some fantastic work. They've got some really talented people there. They were tasked with branding the new cancer center in Calgary, they didn't want to show a building, they wanted to show people, they wanted to show stories, and they wanted to make it so we could all relate to it. And it was a really interesting set in that we were shooting the video the same time we're shooting the stills, and you had a lot of cancer survivors there, you had a lot of people and you really felt the necessity that sort of do the story, right? You didn't want a lot of hyperbole, you wanted to show how strong these people were. But they also didn't want to show these people quote unquote, beating cancer, they wanted to show all of us beating cancer. And it's a little bit of a different thing. Because when you think of people beating cancer, you think of people Oh, it's like some people don't be cancer, it means they lost. And that's not really the premise, the premise is as a collective, we're going to be cancer and own was about getting to some fundraising for the cancer center, because it is a crazy world class facility. And we are really lucky to have it in our city limits, and we need to support it, it is an important part globally of the fight against cancer. And we should be proud of it. And it's one of those things where you gotta just I don't know how to say...

Joelly Goodson :

It's a very emotional topic. You know, I've been affected by cancer, and my dad died of cancer. So I'm very much affected by it. And I know people that have died and are struggling with it. When you talk about branding, it's really important to connect with your audience on an emotional level. And I think through photography, it's really important and challenging thing to do is to be able to connect in that way. And I think that campaign, you did a really good job of doing that. And so I was just curious to get your point on how you were able to do that.

Jason Stang:

What we were trying to do with that campaign is we were trying to show strength, we weren't trying to show anybody is particularly vulnerable, or even particularly strong. We just wanted to show the people that are in the war and their stories and uplifting stories. You know, Jim button has a fantastic story that is a guy who's embraced everything and he lives life to the fullest. You just want to capture the spirit of those people and what they've gone through what you don't want to necessarily portray them as something above and beyond normal. It's something that we're all part of. It's affecting everybody. You just want to give them their moment.

Joelly Goodson :

So it wasn't about pittying people. It wasn't trying to pity people. It's about trying to tell their story.

Unknown:

And conversely the other way. It was not about elevating them, either. They've gone through the battle, or they're going through the battle or they know somebody who's been through the battle. I think it's more about showing it. They're all of us and they're part of us. And yeah, it's left some scars and it's left some hope and it's less than sadness and it's left awake. And you know, it's about showing that without glamorizing it, so you just wanted these people to just be that. Yeah, and it was very isolated and very strong, somewhat heroic, but not it was a real balancing act. We didn't want to make them look like they're some sort of badass superheroes or fighters, right? Because there's They're people and we're all people. And they just wanted to make it seem full spectrum that it covered everybody, it affects everybody, everybody gets it, everybody fights it, the only way we beat it is as a group as a collective.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, I think the pictures portray that they're very simple. And everything you just said, was completely personified in the photography, just FYI.

Jason Stang:

So that's what we wanted. Those were a little bit of a, you know, one of those images where you're like, I really want this to be a certain way. And I really want this to have that feel to it. And on the day, everybody was fantastic. All the people appearing it, whether it was researchers, whether it was people in the battle, people who've gone through the battle, everybody, they're all just there's just a positivity in it and a healthiness about the whole thing that was really quite organic and felt really nice.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, you should be very proud. Okay, I'm going to switch topics here. And I want to talk about COVID. Because I'd be remiss not to how would you say, yeah, right, Jason, I mean, how has COVID affected your business specifically? I mean, especially when you would do all your photoshoots. Obviously, you'd have to go on location, I guess, is what you call it. So how was COVID affected your business?

Unknown:

I want to use the word pivot here so badly, because everybody talked about

Joelly Goodson :

I've never heard that before.

Unknown:

I did not really have to pivot. It was weird. Like, I literally thought the sky was falling, you and everybody else ever whenever they was starting to shut down, and I was, I know scrubbing my groceries, I wasn't sure. I didn't know what it would be. And then within a week, the phone was ringing. And I had a bunch of companies just trying to shoot their covert response photos, like how we're standing with business and how we're doing this or doing that. So I was somewhat busy out of the gate, probably for the first couple of months, which shocked me, and I had no expectation of that. I thought it was just like I said the sky was falling, and I would just be on a really long holiday.

Joelly Goodson :

So even in lockdown?

Jason Stang:

Well, yeah,

Joelly Goodson :

we won't say who the brand is.

Jason Stang:

Well, it's funny, because, I mean, okay, there's two stories there. There's one, I got a call from an agency in Toronto, you know, after about 1000 NDAs, they sent out a brief on what I was shooting. And I also got a similar call from a client here. And their competitors, I should say that competitor of the company into each other it was an agency in Toronto was a company in Calgary who happened to compete with each other, they both sent me briefs that were virtually identical to the point where I was getting the jobs confused. But everybody wanted to just show that they were supportive, especially if you're a company that deals with small business and stuff, they want to say, you know, we got your back. So I had a lot of work for the first few months for different companies shooting that sort of stuff. That was sort of how it started. As it progressed, summer is usually sort of a busy time for me in terms of corporate work, where I'm doing a lot of asset photography, and I'm out in the field for various companies, that stuff plummeted, because nobody was going out in the field, there's no shooting. So that summer was really a lot of cabin time, which was fantastic, you know, and then it sort of just petered back and forth. You get these crazy requests, like, Okay, we want to shoot portraits, but we need you to shoot them from your cars you drive by and oh, no, there was a quote for a job like that. It's like, okay, the photographer will stay in the vehicle and shoot out the window. And I'm like, No, I won't.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, my God. So you turn those down?

Jason Stang:

Well, you just know, I actually am doing the job. But I'm not shooting rolling down a window and shooting a throne and park and fire off a couple of shots. It's not gonna happen. Yeah, you just follow protocol. And the nice thing is you just shoot with a longer lens, and you can stand back a little further. It's not a occupation where I have to be intake, I can literally shoot somebody from a block away if I choose to most of the issues with COVID for me became shooting stuff in studio, how many people you could have in the studio hair and makeup was a huge things required hair makeup, that was always a stumbling block. So you're like, Okay, well, we're not doing hair and makeup on this job. Or we'll get the talent to do their own hair and stuff like that projects where I probably only did 30% of what I would have done in a good year, but that's fine.

Joelly Goodson :

So do you think it's changed the industry and moving forward? I mean, what do you see being done differently? Or do you see things being done differently now? A little bit, I think there's a little bit of more, the pop of what usually goes around with what I do is sort of faded. Like, you know, if I was shooting something in the studio, there's always half a dozen people just lingered around, usually not even paying attention usually on their laptops, but just creating billable hours, I guess I'm not sure what they're doing most of the time. That doesn't happen anymore. It tends to be me and our director and I like that it's a little more direct and it's a little less dog and pony show, which I think is the end of the day just doesn't really change the end result just changes the path to get there. I don't mind this. I'm not a dog and pony show kind of guy so I don't mind missing that part of it. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Unknown:

I'm a introverted extrovert.

Joelly Goodson :

Me too.

Jason Stang:

I love going out. I love seeing people I love being out. But I'm as happy as a clam to be alone and in work and create or do whatever it is I want to do. I like a balance I guess is the way to put it.

Joelly Goodson :

Yeah, it's funny I describe myself that as that people don't believe me. I'm like, No, I you know, I can go out and socialize. Do people get to recharge, I need to be by myself. I love my longtime I don't get enough of it, and I covet it.

Jason Stang:

And with kids, you never get enough of it.

Joelly Goodson :

Right?! Yours are older than mine. But exactly, yeah, for sure. So let me ask you a question when you're out or whether you're online or anywhere and you see other ads or photos, do you look at it with an eye like, Oh, I love this photo, but I would change this. And do you have this inner critique?

Jason Stang:

All the time. And you know, certain things, I don't have expectations of certain ads and certain photos, I'm like, those just go right over me. But if somebody puts an effort into it, and I'll look at it critically, of course, my favorite is when it comes up to jobs that you quoted on that might not have gotten, and then you see the execution, you're like, yeah, it's yeah, a lot of times, I think they've done a great job. A lot of times, it's like, yeah, you fumbled, I would have done that different. But I like to think I'm realistic when I do that. I'm not the only person in the world who knows how to take picture. So I like seeing how other people solve the problem as well.

Joelly Goodson :

Right. But I mean, I have no doubt that you can't just look at a picture being objective, just because

Jason Stang:

I don't know. Yeah, it's tough to just purely enjoy that's, a photo for a photo, say, Yeah, but I probably that said, I probably get more excited over photos than most people, too. I do it all the time as if I see an ad or something where I'm like, Oh, that's a great photo, I will screenshot that. Just because I like having it. I don't know why I might go back and revisit it six months from now or when I'm cleaning out a folder on my desktop or something. But yeah, generally, I see something like, oh, I don't want to forget about that. I will take a shot of it. So that's great. And then I just like it.

Joelly Goodson :

Do you have any photographers that you look up to?

Jason Stang:

Yeah, various ones, for various reason, share a couple. The one who I probably have the most time for and the most respect for is a man named Dan Winters, which is interesting because our lives and sort of intersected a few times over the last 30 years. And I've gotten to know him reasonably well. Now. He's just found his path path I would like to be on or try and emulate, I guess is a way to put it where it's a mix of work that is broad enough based and he explores his passions with his work, but he's capable of making some just stunning imagery. And he's just one of those guys that is very honest to himself. He doesn't really go outside his lane too much. I can tell one of his photos within seconds looking at it. Oh, really? Where does he live? Austin, Texas.

Joelly Goodson :

Okay, so his brand is very recognizable that I was gonna ask, that was my thing I was gonna ask you to so do you think that you've created a brand for yourself where people can look and say, Oh, that's a Jason Stang.

Jason Stang:

People tell me that all the time. People go. Yeah, like I could tell right away. That was yours. I get that quite often. And I'm like, Yeah, I don't know. My thing is yeah, when I do it the way I want to do it. Yeah, I would say that. Keep in mind, I am an advertising photographer. So it's a little bit of being a chameleon. Not always satisfying my visual, right? Often satisfying the client's visual, you might have your influences, but a lot of times it's dictated by what the brief says, right? And what their vision is.

Joelly Goodson :

So what would you say your brand is? Actually I'm curious, what do you think people say about Jason Stang photography,

Unknown:

My personal brand think might be a little bit of a different narrative. And I think that's actually more of a constantly evolving thing. But the the brand I like to carry through in the industry is I like people to think you know what he solves my problem, you know, more so than anything, whatever visual style I use to solve it, or visual execution, I used to solve it, I want to just be known as that guy that people walk away and go, that was a great experience. From a branding standpoint, I like to be on the tip of the tongue of art directors and creative people and I want to be the guy they go, you know, he's the guy that will understand what we need, and he will deliver it and he'll deliver it in a way that makes us super happy. That's really what it comes down to me. I don't want them to go. The work was excellent. But he's NASA.

Joelly Goodson :

Right? I mean, there's no question that you're super talented, you're award winning, you have done tons of great campaigns. But that's the other thing too is you're actually a really down to earth, easygoing person and great to work with. And so that I think that's your brand. And that means a lot because people want to work with someone professional, who they can also actually like, so you kind of hit all that if I'm a business, and I'm a small business owner, and I'm looking for a photographer to take some pictures of a campaign I'm doing what are some things I should look for

Jason Stang:

Just my number? No.

Joelly Goodson :

That's sort of the easy answer.

Unknown:

Well, first of all, I think you really have to assess your needs. People go, oh, we need photography. Well, what do you need photography of, you know, you have to really understand what you need, and what you hope to get by hiring a photographer. And that I think will dictate a lot of it. Because if you're looking for just lifestyle stuff, and stuff that reinforces your brand, if your brand is let's go back to a skateboard company or surf company or something like that, but you feel that you need images of kids with surfboards in Volkswagen vans on the beach at Tofino that's a different photographer than hiring somebody who's going to shoot your stuff on a model in a studio. Not necessarily different photographer, but it's definitely a different execution. So if you're hiring that guy for the beach, well then you look for people that do that you look through Instagram or you find them wherever and you go from there, that stuff gets expensive to produce. And maybe that's one of those places where you look for stock or you Find somebody on Instagram who has that type of imagery in the offer to buy it from, there's ways to get that without necessarily investing the money and getting it. Conversely, if you're to be shooting your product, that's a whole different thing. And that's somebody who can work in a studio where quickly work efficiently and maximize your expenditure for that day. The big thing about I find often when I get calls for companies to shoot for them for a day, I'm not cheap and easy. No, but you want to maximize your day. So I don't want to waste anybody's time or money. I want them to get the most out of what they're spending their money on. And so you want to get a clear and concise idea of what you need, and what you want to have at the end of the day in terms of assets. If you're photographing your product, well, how do you want to photograph so that will determine who you hire. And it should be find somebody who specializes in studio, you're going to get a lot more out of a day than you will if you're hiring somebody who's a lifestyle photographer and shoots on beaches, they can probably do that. They might not do this quickly and efficiently. If they're going into a studio, if they know how to work a camera and lights and stuff. They're going to be able to do it both situations. But you really have to assess what you need, first of all, and then look at Instagram, get referrals, talk to people look at websites.

Joelly Goodson :

Do you think that it's valuable to really hone in and create a niche? Like, you know, this is wedding photographer or this is a advertising photographer, this is a boudoir photographer. I mean, what's your take on creating that niche and fine tuning your brand as a photographer to make sure people know if they want a photographer for like I said a wedding they know to go to this guy you're the go to for that particular niche.

Jason Stang:

I think it's somewhat defined by the market. You know, I'm Calgary based. So in order to basically put bread on the table in Calgary, you have to have a multitude of skills. I can say I'm an ad photographer, and I'm a corporate photographer. Those are pretty all encompassing terms. If I go to New York, and I say I'm an ad photographer, well, what kind of ad photographer do you do food? Do you do food inside? Do you do only fish? Like literally it could be that precise? That sort of focus?

Joelly Goodson :

Is there photographers that are just like fish photographers? Fish photographer costs out?

Jason Stang:

Maybe maybe not quite does get that special? Yeah, to specialize in purely just in makeup, and shooting lipstick and or those guys who specialize in tromping things, photographing stuff as it falls through a frame. Like there's guys that just have a very, very specific niche. Wow, which is easier to do now, because you can work globally. I mean, you could send your work anywhere. If you're going to work in an industry city like Calgary and you want to work with actually humans and not on the phone, you have to be able to do a little bit more and show that I used to teach a class in a CAD a portfolio development class. And I would tell the students, where are you going to show this book? Where are you going to show your portfolio and that was obviously just electronically show your book or actually, you know, a hardcopy show your portfolio, because that will determine if you go into New York and you're going to show it there, well, you're not going to show a whole broad base variety of things, because you're not going to get hired, if you got one image that strikes a chord with the art directors with what they're after. Well, there's also going to be a guy in New York that has a whole book of images like that, so he's going to get that job. Whereas in Calgary can local, it only takes one or two images, sometimes to be the only guy that does that in the city. There's not as many photographers to choose from. So you have to be a little broader base. But if you took that broad based approach to the city like New York, or even Toronto to the DRI, London for sure, if you took that book there, you'd never get work, because it's too broad based. Nobody can really say, Oh, this is the guy to go to for that. in Calgary, I have the ability to say, Okay, I'm an ad photographer. What does that mean? I mean, my ads could be anything from a person jogging in a park or hiking a mountain, or it could be a still life on a table like it's very broad base.

Joelly Goodson :

So you talk about all these different campaigns, I have to ask, can you tell us about the mermaid in the tub picture? And what was that all about?

Jason Stang:

That was a really fun campaign. And that was her brokerlink insurance. And they wanted to really show a campaign that said, no matter what happens, they got you covered. And so the whole campaign was built around mythical creatures messing up your ship. So it started off, you know, we had basically I think we had nine or 10 executions they wanted to put out. And it was like, Oh, what if you had a mermaid that was living in your bathtub and flooded your bathroom, but if you had a Sasquatch, you wanted a bowl of Froot Loops and destroyed your kitchen in the process. These are all things that in theory, if these happened to you, you'd be covered by broken link insurance. And, you know, that was sort of the point of it. So they came up to me with these sort of wild ideas and it's like, okay, execute these. And I'm like, Okay, the first image we did was actually was the mermaid in the bathtub. It's all problem solving, like I said, gets back to creating the decisive moment because the, you know, we built the set, we built a fake bathroom, you build the fake bathroom inside of a, basically an eight foot by 10 foot line sandbox, so we could flood it. We built the set, got all the props, got all that stuff. We did have to photograph the model separate in the bathtub. Because first of all, we needed warm water in the tub. So we weren't killing our model. And secondly, then we needed to flood the room. And we weren't gonna flood it with hot water that was, you know, hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water. So once we had that shot, then we kept the camera locked down and we shot the bathroom where we floated everything. It was pieced together from about three or four shots. Her tail in that shot was a milk fish and Malaysian milk fish that I bought a TNT supermarket and then wrapped around a wine bottle and froze. So my eyes curvature to it. That's amazing. That's a beautiful picture. Thank you. Yeah, no, it was it was a lot of fun. That project, the whole thing from start to finish is such an exercise in problem solving. There's just one thing after next where the Sasquatch came from where the Sasquatch suit came from, it was a healthy budget. It wasn't an unlimited budget, so we had to really think and come up with ways to solve it. Yeah, it was exciting. It was a lot of fun.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, that's great. Well, sounds fun. And like I said, I saw the picture and I had to ask you about it. Well, Jason, thank you so much for all your amazing information and insight. Obviously, you're extremely passionate about photography. And like I said, I can't say enough good things about your work. So if someone wants to learn more about you, what's the best way for them? Are you on social media at all?

Jason Stang:

I am. That's a great way to learn about me. I've gone through all this branding exercise right? By Instagram is not pretty but it's okay. I don't have a lot of time and I get finicky about what I post. So So what's the best way for someone to get ahold of you? Instagram is Stanger. 68, which is my year of birth. If you want to do the math.

Joelly Goodson :

You're younger than me.

Jason Stang:

Really?

Joelly Goodson :

I'm older than everybody I interview practically.

Jason Stang:

That is crazy.

Joelly Goodson :

Yeah. Anyway,

Jason Stang:

Obviously you made a deal with a devil so?

Joelly Goodson :

Well, anyway, sorry. So how else?

Unknown:

My websites does if you just go to Stang, photography, calm. Okay, yeah, between those two, you can find me and find work and stuff like that. And Stan photography probably has a little bit more insight into who I am and, and the work I do.

Joelly Goodson :

Okay, cool. Well, thank you again, and congrats on all your amazing work. And I'll see like I said the old campaign thanks for sharing that information. And you donated your time for that. Right. That was all everything was quite donation. Yeah. Amazing. All right. Well, nice to see you here.

Jason Stang:

It's very nice being here is very nice to touch base again.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, thanks again. And we will definitely stay in touch. Bye! And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the conversation and maybe learned a few things to help you with your branding. Most of all, I hope you had some fun. This show is a work in progress. So please remember to rate and review on whatever platform you listen to podcasts. And if you want to learn more about me and what I do to help my clients with their branding, feel free to reach out to me on any of the social channels under you guessed it, branding, bad branding matters was produced, edited and hosted by Joelly. Goodson awesome. So thanks again and until next time, here's to all you badass is out there