Brand Interview – Sandra Swieder, Photographer, From Across the River
How long has your company been in business? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
I have a photography business. I photograph mainly people, real people. Politicians, actors, artists. My goal is to shoot editorial portraits and corporate events. I’d love to be able to shoot children’s fashion. I love running around photographing kids.
I started freelancing in 1991 as a photo assistant. I worked commercially in NYC for 14 years as an assistant and also worked as a prop and set stylist. In 2005, I kind of went on my own and took a break from the commercial industry. (I then started a family, moved out of the country to Mexico and now I am back and restarting my business and this project is my launch. I am also a single mom.)
I am in the process of producing a 9/11 photography exhibit in honor of the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001. The exhibit, “From Across the River” focuses on the New Jersey perspective. I focused on the ever changing skyline and waterfront operations that became the life line to ground zero. I focused on the unity. New Jersey lost almost 700 citizens and Hoboken bears the largest loss of life. New Jersey may be a separate state, but we were not a separate community.
I spent a year photographing the waterfront. I established relationships with key emergency personnel who ran the waterfront operations and collected their stories. I am also producing a mini documentary to go along with the photo exhibit so people can hear first hand accounts of what happened along the Hudson River that Tuesday morning and the days, weeks and months that followed.
My goal is for the exhibit to travel around the state. I hope schools will want to visit the exhibit. My images focus on the positive. There are no distraught images. I held a black box in front of my face and focused on the beauty as the world felt like it was falling down around us. The sun rose and the sun set the next day and people came together. My project is historic documentation, educational and fine art.
Being a mother, my young child is growing up with these images. I am very cautious as to how this historic event effects the future generation and how the events can be told. I know for many of us, we can’t believe it has been 10 years.
Right now I am in the fundraising stage and trying to get the word out. I am self-producing this project.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
I’ve done a lot of work for charities. I believe we need to give back. I’ve worked with a lot of local issues too in supporting them. The Reservoir 3, The Loews Theater, Hudson Cradle and Camp Liberty are some of the organizations I’ve donated services to.
My project “From Across the River” will be contributing a portion of sales to a local charity related to 9/11.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc…
I kept my name/logo simple. I let my images speak for themselves. I want people to not be distracted by fonts and logos. I want them to get the feeling from my images.
How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
For my personal site and logo, I went with gray. It is the color photography uses to balance light. For the exhibit we kept it similar and simple but used black.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
I did my own design for my personal website and promotional materials. I am working with a designer, Sandi Grom for the project. We are still keeping a simple look.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
I have a website, and profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google. I spent hours one night connecting all the dots of social media. I’m all linked up. I am out there, and just need to be found and promoted.
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media?
I tried to pitch as soon as launched. I launched my website this past January.
Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
I research all the time. Knowledge is power. I also signed up with Agency Access and they are linked to PhotoShelter. They offer great advise, webinars, information. I did a lot of research on marketing. I realized you need to spend about 60-70% on marketing, then working on the fun stuff. It is a process; emails, promos, follow-up phone calls, social media. But until I launch “From Across the River,” all my focus is on the exhibit and getting that word out to the public.
Do you advertise locally in newspapers and/or nationally in magazines? Are they effective?
I am starting to advertise for the exhibit locally. I send out mailings to magazines about every month. It takes a few times before you are noticed.
Do you advertise online using Google, Facebook or on other company sites? Are they effective?
I am on all social media sites. Sometimes they are effective. I am on some industry related sites too for the past few years now and I get some jobs from them. I actually posted a job and got my video editor Staccato Media Group from advertising on Mandy.com.
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor?
Both. I use a little of both. For my personal work, I always try to use local vendors or reliable vendors I have worked with. I have been lucky with the 9/11 Project. The last printer, Royal Printing printed over 7,000 postcards for free.
Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials?
Yes, but it is all about the costs. What we like and can afford to produce. Working in the photo industry, I am exposed to a lot of papers and presentation supplies. I love good paper, and I actually collect paper.
Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project?
I’d love to be more green. Actually living in Mexico, I learned to recycle more and live greener. They are doing better then us in that department. I definitely think we should all be green friendly in all areas of the work we produce.
If you sell products, are they produced in the U.S.A. or abroad?
I produce all my work locally, between N.J. and N.Y.C.
Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
Launching “From Across the River.” It’s been challenge self producing this body of work. I know people think if it’s about 9/11, the funding must be easy. It’s like any other project, it takes time, recognition and dedication.
“From Across the River”
To learn more about Sandra Swieder, her photography and From Across the River, visit the links below:
Website – www.sandraswieder.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Jersey-Side/220291621325838
Kickstarter - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sandraswieder/the-jersey-side-project
Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/sswieder
Email – email@example.com