Monday, February 18, 2013

The Business Chat - A visual chat


It's time to get visual today, let's talk about photos. 

It's that time of the year where I am up to my  elbows in paperwork and the top of the pile are show applications. Argh. Even though I've been filling these things out for 10 years they still are a chore. And the worst part of them? You guessed it, the photos. 

After you've filled out a dozen or two applications the bio, the show list, the artist statement become easy. But deciding which 5 images to send is never easy. Because the photos you send will make or break your application and how can you possibly nail your whole collection down to just 5 images? 

Images are the most important tool you have for your business. When you sell online the only thing a customer has to judge you by is your photography. When you submit an application you are selling yourself to the show organizer and the only thing they have to judge you by is your photography. However there is a world of difference between the sort of image you use to sell a product and an image to submit to a show jury. 

When you are sending images in for a show application you want to give the jury a good idea of what you do. The images need to be clear, simple, well shot and representative of your work. It is not about showing how fabulous a photographer you are, nor about what a great fashion shoot you can create. It is a catalogue of your work, unadorned. 

There are no set rules for product shots but these are some good guidelines.
  • Use a plain background, preferably white. If your image is good enough that the show wants to use it for publicity it must be on a white background.
  • One piece of jewelry per image. 
  • No models, no fashion shots, no props, just the jewelry. 
  • Each image should be of a different style. 
    • There is no point in sending 10 images of the same pair of earrings in 10 different colours. They get it. If you send 10 images, send 10 different pieces of jewelry. 
  • Focus. Make sure the images are absolutely clear.
  • Use good lighting. Diffuse natural light is best. Avoid heavy shadows. 
  • Label each image on the BACK of the image. If your images fall onto the floor, would they be able to identify who's work they are? Use a printed label with your name, company name, image description and price. 
  • If you send digital images make sure they are of a decent size. Do not send files that are HUGE, nor files that are tiny. 
  • If you send files on a CD make sure you send a corresponding image list so that the jury knows what they are looking at. 
Some jurying committees sit in a room and project your digital images onto a large screen. When you blow up a painting to 6 feet that's one thing, when you blow up a photo of your earrings to 6 feet that is a whole different ball game. Make sure the work you shoot is the best work you can do. Clean, dust free and beautiful. And careful of those photoshop touch ups, they might not be visible on a computer monitor, but on a giant screen? 

Now that cameras are so cheap there is no excuse for having bad photos. It doesn't require an expensive camera, just a lot of practise. Read your camera manual, and then practice over and over and over. There are tons of great photo tip sites online as well as free image editing websites. I personally use Photoshop Elements, a much cheaper ($100) version of Adobe Photoshop however I also use Picmonkey (picmonkey.com) which has great tools like cropping and basic editing and is totally free. 

If you're not super busy selling work these days spend a little time making your images better. They can always be better. After a while it's even fun! 

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