Capturing Creative Marketing with Autumn Theodore Photography

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You want every aspect of your brand to look polished — from your social media profiles to your store flyers. Take it from me, customers prefer to work with and buy from companies that have their ENTIRE act together. One aspect of that is photos. Every company needs to have high-quality photos of products, events, services, office life, etc. to fully complete their branding efforts. I wonder where you could find a top-notch photographer?

You can listen to the episode and read the transcription below. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, YouTube, or anywhere else you get your podcasts by searching “Creativity Killed the Cat”.

— Intro —

Hey there all you beautiful people! Welcome to the Creativity Killed the Cat podcast. My name’s Andrew Chwalik and I’m going to be helping you develop creative marketing that won’t break the bank.

Before beginning our episode, I’m going to share a fun fact. I can play the guitar! Kind of. I learned a variety of songs when I was a kid and even played Good Riddance by Green Day at my high school graduation.

Alright, on with the show!

Remember, I take one small business or brand and develop some creative marketing concepts that could be implemented as soon as you finish listening to this podcast. For those of you who don’t know, I love making videos. I’ve done a variety of projects, like creating promotional videos for companies and producing wedding highlight videos. I do often get asked if I also do photo shoots. That is not my forte, however, the small business that we’re going to be talking about in this episode knows how to take a photo from every angle. Before we talk about how good this photographer can make you look, you do email marketing, right?

— Marketing Chat —

There were a bunch of millennials out there that just laughed at my mentioning of email for marketing. I can say that because I am a millennial. But yes, email is still alive and well in the world. Think about it. You need an email for work. For making online payments. For signing up for certain accounts. Don’t get me wrong, I think its use will slowly dissipate with the popularization of messenger apps and chatbots, but not for years to come. Our systems are so integrated with email that so many things would stop functioning without them. Social media. Online banking. My Creativity Killed the Cat newsletter. Scary thought.

Here are just a few stats to prove my point. Email will be used by 3 billion people by 2020. Yes, in just two more years, 3 billion people will be using email. Talk about reaching your target market. 205 billion emails are sent every day. Every single day! That’s pretty wild. Specifically talking email marketing, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38. Now, with that said, you do need to implement the right strategies and have the correct audience, but not too shabby of an ROI right there. The last thing you need to know, email has a higher conversion rate than search and social media combined! How about them apples. Social media and organic discovery are important, they should absolutely be a part of your marketing mix. However, email can simply change the ballgame.

If we’re being real, email marketing is quite easy to set up and implement. There are a variety of cool software and programs out there that will help you dish out some sweet campaigns. Legit, don’t try to do this yourself. Honestly, I’m not even sure how you would. You would need to keep a list of all the emails you gather from all your different locations. Then create an email with graphics to send to these people. You would have to segment them on your own, probably in excel. Then get that list into Gmail or something and then send it out. I’m not even sure you would be able to customize the recipient’s name. Gross. Please just use something like MailChimp or Constant Contact. That’s what I use. I’ll put the links in the episode description.

Honestly, I’m a huge fan of just doing everything yourself and saving as much money as possible. When we’re talking email marketing this is the one area I’ll splurge on. Seriously. At least look into it. Plus, almost every platform or software has a free trial or free plan — take advantage of those.

There are so many fun ways that you can use email marketing to engage with your audience. Let them know about your next event with a contest where people can win free tickets or VIP treatment. Introduce a new product or service by sharing a GIF you made just for your email. Side note, they actually play when the email is opened. I’m a huge fan of using that. Even if you don’t get super creative, which you should, email marketing is still an effective way to share company news, discounts, and make sales.

Okay, enough talk about your inbox engagement strategy. Let’s all just smile for the camera and say lactose-free cheese.

Autumn Theodore Photography

To be frank, Autumn is a straight baller. Am I allowed to introduce our small businesses like that? Well, Autumn and I met a year ago at Columbus Startup Week. She was doing professional headshots for some of the attendees and of course, if there’s a camera around, I’m going to scope it out. My friend and I went up to snag a headshot of our own and I began talking with Autumn. After smiling for her camera we entered her contest for a free photoshoot. I was running a dating company at the time and we could always use more photos. A month later, I won the free photo shoot and got to chill with Autumn once again.

Autumn is a commercial photographer helping brands plan and curate image libraries that easily handle the rapid need for timely, fresh images for websites, marketing materials, and social media. Photography has been her passion for nearly 13 years because she’s able to be creative, connect with others, and make an impact on the community. Side note, one of her favorite things to photograph is food. Same. Except I just post my poorly lit shots on Instagram. I’m a videographer, not a photographer. Get out of my face.

Now that you know about Autumn and her legendary photography skills, let’s get creative!

Since you love taking pictures of food and I love food, it sounds like the most rational place to start. When you’re looking at a restaurant’s menu, what do you look at first? The pictures of course. Honestly, I find it frustrating when menus have little or no pictures. Maybe I’m just high maintenance, but I can guarantee most of you feel the same way, even if it is subconsciously. Think about it next time you’re reading a menu. Plus, some of these restaurants name their dish with too many fancy words so you can’t even visualize what the dish is supposed to look like. How about Lamb Salas with Frgola, Osterina Stellina. Yeah. That’s a dish. Just give me a photo.

Here’s the game plan, head to one of your favorite restaurants that you think could use better photos of their dishes. Order one or two of the items to go and take it back to your studio. Do a little photo shoot with the two dishes you brought home. Put them on some nice plates and under good lighting and boom, delicious looking photos. Once you’ve got some good shots, upload them to your site and print them out. Put the physical copies in an envelope with a link to your site and a note. You’ll be sending this to the restaurant owner. Write a little about who you are, why you love their food, and that quality photos like these would really up their sales. Let the owner know that they can use the photos you already took and that you’d be happy to work out an arrangement to get every dish professionally photographed. Once you’ve got all that done, send the package on its way!

Pictures of dishes are important for menus, but also for the digital world! A restaurant’s website better have high-quality photos of the food they offer or something is wrong. Sharing images of their featured dishes on social media is a great way to build an audience and get more people visiting the location. Also, you know everyone Googles local restaurants to check out. Having some legit photos of delicious looking food will make their decision much easier.

Let’s stick with food for a minute…or forever. Heh-hem. Now that we know how important quality photography is for restaurants, let’s take it one step further. The cool part about restaurants is that their dishes change. They offer specials. Maybe they’re celebrating a certain holiday and are introducing a limited edition meal. Whatever the case, they need to have updated photo on the regular. Why not host classes to teach restaurant owners and employees how to take pictures of their dishes? You could even work out a package deal where you do the first round of photography, but then you also teach them while you’re shooting. Teach them about angles, lighting, aspect ratio, depth of field, etc. Then, you can set them up with a system on how to store all their photos.

Why not go full circle and make a subscription plan out of it. Have them continue to take photos over time and then you can do the editing for a monthly fee. Recurring revenue is the best.

One more quick creative marketing concept. This one requires a little research but could pay off quite nicely if you can make it happen. I did my master's dissertation on marketing in the wine industry and met a wine owner in the Columbus area that has a local artist paint iconic local landmarks to put on his bottle labels. The watercolor renditions go on a variety of bottles and are circulated throughout the state, and some throughout the country! Just to be clear, this artist is most likely getting paid to have his creations sent everywhere. That’s a pretty sweet deal. Let’s do the same. Find a local winery or brewery, honestly, just find any company that is producing high volume products like these that have a local affinity. I mention those two businesses because those are booming industries in Ohio, as detailed by my dissertation. Reach out and see if they need any local inspiration for a label design. If you could get some of your photographs on their bottles and circulated the country, well hot dog, you’ve got yourself a winner right there.

Autumn Theodore Photography

Boom. Autumn Theodore Photography now has some creative marketing ideas that won’t break the bank and will get more people engaging with her stunning photo taking skills. Plus, you might see some of her work on your next bottle of wine. If you any wait until that next glass of wine, then you can find he portfolio at or on Instagram @autumntheodorephotography.

— Closing —

Well, that’s all folks. Thanks for joining me on this episode of Creativity Killed the Cat! I hope you had as much fun as I did and were able to take away some creative marketing ideas that YOU can start using right now.

If you’re still stuck and need a little extra creative juice, head over to to find some more content that will continue to get your creative gears turning. Plus, you can reach out and let me know if you want your business or brand as the theme for one of our future episodes.

Keep saving those cats. I’ll see you all on the next episode of Creativity Killed the Cat. In the meantime, let me know what instruments you play and maybe we can even start a band. Just don’t let me pick the name.