When I think of Pocatello Idaho, images of sage brush, potato farms and maybe college football come to mind. It certainly doesn’t make me think of high fashion Glamour portraiture. So I was a little blown away when I came across the portfolio of Craig LaMere, owner of Moz Studios, which is located in Southeastern Idaho.
Though Craig has only been shooting professionally for two years now, his portraits have a sophisticated elegance and fashion edge that intrigue me. I feel a connection with the subjects of his photographs, which is often found lacking in the portraits of many seasoned professionals. Like many photographers these days, Craig is self taught via YouTube tutorials and industry magazines. He bought a year subscription to Kelby Online training and took an advanced retouching class from Juila Kuzmenko of Omaha Image Productions when he was first starting out and has since been developing his own style through lots of practice.
When asked how he came up with the unique name for his studio and brand, Craig replied, “I knew, without a doubt, that I didn’t want to be called Craig LaMere Photography, Photos by Craig, Images by LaMere or anything else with my name attached to it for the simple reason that I thought it didn’t sound cool at all. I remember hearing long ago that the most successful brands are one word or very simple names like Coke, Apple, Mercedes, or Rolex and that a really successful brand is about creating a unique identity to coincide with your product. I knew I wanted my studio name and my logo to be simple, memorable, unique and something I could build an identity around.”
The Moz Studios name was derived from a nickname given to Morrissey, the lead singer of an ’80’s band called the Smiths. The logo for Moz Studios was inspired by one of notorious basketball player Dennis Rodman’s tatoos. “I always liked the word Moz. I’m not sure there is any meaning to the name as much as I have tried to build a persona of “bad ass” around Moz that I, as Craig Lamere, could never have. When people see my images, whether it’s portraiture, fashion, boudoir, or glamour, I want their reaction to be, “That is a bad ass image!” The best way to describe my relationship with my brand is this: Craig Lamere is Peter Parker and Moz Studios is Spiderman.”
Craig draws inspiration for his craft from the work of others. “I find new shooters all the time who just blow my mind. I love to go on 500 pixels and admire the images from different photographers. Amada Diaz, Petrova Julian, Robert Coppa, Emily Soto, Dean Bradshaw, Jamie Ibarra, Rebekah W, Sergey Ivanov, just name a very few.”
Craig shoots with a Canon 5D III and Canon 1D III body and his favorite lens is the Canon 135 L 2.0. Goals for the future of his edgy brand are to keep the doors to his business open, start doing some commercial work and continue building his skill set.
Building a client base in rural Idaho has been an interesting journey and struggle at times for Craig. “I’m a very new studio and I’ve pretty much built up my clientele by word of mouth and Facebook. I think the one thing that has helped me build my client base more than anything else is the range of styles I’m able to produce. I wish I could just shoot fashion or glamour and pay my rent, mortgage, insurance, other overhead and have some extra to go see a movie when I want, but that isn’t the reality of my situation at this time. I have to be able to shoot families, seniors, and a wedding here and there to pay my bills.
“My take on marketing has been to try to produce the best quality images I can, offer my clients the best products I can, try to get my images in the hands of centers of influence and do whatever I can to get my work seen. Slowly, but surely, it’s starting to pay off as my client base is growing. ”
I live in a smaller city myself and am really inspired by Craig’s vision and entrepreneurial spirit. I’d love to hear any tips or comments on how the rest of you are building innovative, edgy photography brands in unconventional places. Please share.