If you don't know what brand repping is, turn away now before you loose the contents of your wallet. I jest, obviously - if there's ever anything you should do on Instagram, it's definitely brand repping.
Brand repping - or rather, representing a business by promoting their products - comes in many forms, but the one I think most people are familiar with is when a business (usually a small one) offers free products to an individual in exchange for good photos of their products. The business gets amazing photos to use to promote their brand, and the photographer gets to keep the freebies sent to them. It's a nice little gig that can turn into a very real hobby.
I should know - I've been involved in the brand repping world since February 2017, and although it's only been a few months it's been a tremendous journey. I've loved every minute - and without stumbling into the rabbit hole of being a brand representative, and everything that comes along with it, I wouldn't have developed my photography skills to the level I have - no exaggeration.
Brand repping has taught me so much - more than just how to shoot with a DSLR camera. So here it is, what brand repping has taught me:
1. Photography - The most obvious skill that repping has taught me is clearly photography. I started out with an iPhone 6, lying my son out on our brand new carpet from Ikea and posing him as he slept in the handmade bits and bobs I had painstakingly made him. It broke my heart that we couldn't afford to have professional photos of him taken at the time, and this was my compromise. It wasn't until I spotted a rep search on my Facebook feed by the only handmade company I followed at the time that I was introduced to the idea of brand repping. It's here that I need to thank Fred and Noah (a company I'd found through Facebook ads that I'd fallen madly in love with!), because 3 rep searches later I realised my photography simply wasn't up to scratch. Armed with the DSLR my fiancé had lovingly bought me for Christmas after realising how many photos I'd been taking, I vowed to get better, and learn how to use a DSLR properly. It was then that I stumbled across an Instagram post by searching for crochet toys that I found the ever wonderful Albetta. I owe them so much, and the biggest thanks, because they offered me my first repping job, and it spurred me on to produce even better photos to do their beautiful products justice. My photography would not be where it is today without them. To this day I'm still striving to improve my photography, and make it the best it can be.
2. It's not about the free stuff - If you're going into repping for the freebies you're doing it for all the wrong reasons. Sure, everyone loves getting free stuff (myself included) but receiving items in return for providing good, high quality photos is a very real and exhausting full time job... it's called product photography and professionals get paid to do it. Trying to contend with a tantruming toddler as you wrestle him into leggings and try to take decent photos of him as he attempts to fling himself off the bed is... frustrating at the best of times. It is work, so you should bear that in mind when you enter a rep search. Always ask: do I genuinely love this brand? Am I a good fit? Would I buy from them if I could/have I already bought from them? Am I legitimately going to turn into a fangirling, squealing mess when I receive post from them and show everyone I know immediately, even poor Susan next door? If you answer yes to each of those questions without hesitation, then you're going to be the kind of person that the business is not only looking for, but a genuine supporter of that small business that's relying on you to help them grow and show a legitimate love for their brand. Because let's be honest - brand repping isn't about the free stuff at all, it's about be supportive, providing awesome photos and building connections, which leads me onto my 3rd point...
3. It's all about the people - this is the best aspect of repping by far, and it's something I learned as I went along. The repping community - and by extension the shops - are some of the most supportive, loveliest people you could ever hope to come across. Don't be afraid to start a conversation, get to know people... socialise. I mean, that is the core purpose of social media, isn't it? Little Pickles actually asked me to write this very article for their blog after we discovered each other through their first ever rep search - I wasn't a chosen rep, but I've been able to help and support a shop I love by collaborating in a different way, which I think is pretty amazing. (And hey - I might not have found them in the first place if it hadn't been for their rep search!)
4. Be prepared to hide bank statements - haha, okay I kid, don't do that - relationships need honesty! But the point stands, you're going spend money. Why? Because small businesses are producing some of the most irresistible products ever, and the best way to support small is buy small. I buy from shops I absolutely love when I can, not because of repping at all but because everything is so gorgeous and I'm a weak, weak willed woman armed with a credit card. Sometimes you can't support your favourite shops by buying because money's a bit tight, and that's okay - likely there's hundreds of shops you adore, and let's be honest you can't buy everything. But you will find something (or several things...) you fall madly in love with and need to have, if you haven't already. I guarantee it. And then it's just a slippery slope from there on in. Welcome to the club, we have t-shirts 😎 (that wasn't a joke, I can think of several small shops selling such t-shirts...)
5. It's all about supporting small - at the end of the day, the whole point of being a brand rep is to support the small brand you work with. It means putting in the time to take the best pictures you can take of their products. It means promoting them when they need you. It means offering the people behind the brand advice and a willing ear to lend should they need it. It means getting emotionally invested in that brand to the point where their successes make you genuinely ecstatic and run around telling everyone you know. It means supporting them beyond just your defined repping term and well after. It means being part of a team.
I owe brand repping a lot, and I owe the amazing people behind the brands organising it a whole lot more. Thanks to them I finally took up a hobby I've been meaning to do for years, and have a whole catalogue of gorgeous photos of my boy growing up. I've met amazing people in this (often) lonely and thankless journey of motherhood, and I've been given the kick up the butt I needed to finally make the small business I dreamed of since I was pregnant a reality.
From the bottom of my heart - thanks guys, you're amazing.
My First attempt at "professional" looking photos featuring the blanket I had made my son.
My first attempt at taking photos for "repping" featuring Fred and Noah leggings.
The photo that I entered Albetta's rep search with and my first on a DSLR.
I started learning how to use a DSLR properly and start getting photos I love!
One of my latest photos for Albetta-I'm constantly improving my photography but have found a distinct, "soft" photography style I love!