So we jumped at the chance to invite him to come in and talk to our staff at Jellyfish about how marketers could benefit from thinking like a pure-play creative, and from the perspective of someone outside of our office walls!Someone asked, "What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?" Taylor muses, "A purist photographer, Larry Fink once told me, ‘don’t expect to get there straight away, it will take ten years to master your art’. And sure enough, only in the most recent two years of the last ten, have I reached that point where I actually call myself a photographer.”
That's all very well, but how can that benefit marketers who have a matter of months to formulate, execute and deliver winning campaigns?
Taylor has captured many a powerful moment along with his journey to becoming a creative photographer, all without sacrificing his core value of authenticity—and this, he says, is one of the similarities he shares with brands.
Overcoming a creative block in marketing
Taylor’s tips to success:
1. Tell stories
What are you trying to say and how can you add meaning?
A clear message is vital to every marketing campaign, but the best way to conjure up empathy and affiliation, whether it’s in a picture, video or any form, is a compelling narrative.
2. Immerse yourself
Have you done the ground work and gotten to know your subject, the person and/or the challenge?
Formal meetings, socializing informally or being the customer of their product are all good immersion techniques.
If you’ve not yet got the answer, do it again in a different way and you could bring about five more possible solutions.
3. Stop overthinking
Sometimes, the answer is right in front of you.
4. Be true to your brand
What are your brand values? Are you being true to your core style?
When a creative project is over-complicated, or you’ve lost your way, sometimes returning to what you know brings a newly believable brand authenticity.
Taylor, the son of a pilot, grew up in Cyprus with much older siblings. As a result, he had to find his own entertainment, so he was always out fearlessly exploring his surroundings. Getting up to all sorts, from learning Cypriot street slang to traveling around the Middle East as an 11-year-old, immersing himself in different cultures as he went.
He returned to the UK and afterward studied Media at Brighton University. But in an interesting turn of events, he tried to transfer to photography and was harshly rejected—and told his pictures were so bad that he should never attempt to join the course again!
It was a bitter pill. But one that made the young man angry, fuelling his drive to succeed.
This took the form of hours and hours spent leafing through photography books on library floors and days getting among communities in both impoverished and affluent areas to capture moments with purpose.
His self-education that truly paid off.
You empathize with Taylor more now, don't you?
Taylor says; “On a 30-minute shoot, like with John Legend, for example, I’ll sacrifice 20 minutes just talking to him. Making the environment comfortable. Building the trust. All to capture pictures in just a few minutes, with the hope of getting the winning shot.”
“A wonderful interior designer I watched a documentary on recently would spend 8 months getting to know a client before doing a project. We might not have the luxury of that time, but I’ve followed boxers and vets around, captured people eating in chicken shops and spent hours helping an athlete move house to Newcastle—all for that one moment of authenticity that I’ve been poised, waiting for all along,” he shared.
“In that same shoot, John Legend was tired from a long flight as well as the limited time. From talking to me for a bit, I learned he needed to call some friends. The phone was right on the side table in the room. I told him to do just that—and that’s how we got a glimpse of normality in a celebrity’s daily life—by getting him to act normally.
Be true to your brand
Authenticity is what Taylor preaches. So when faced with the East London Team GB athletes, he was in awe of their abilities (and how much effort they put into training!), so he chose to strip it back:
"I followed them around as they geared up for the games in their hometowns.
Seeing these absolute superheroes contrasted against the grit of their daily routines was my core style. And it worked."