An image can say more than a 1,000 words, so it is essential that your photographs give out the right message. The 9 tips below show you step-by-step show what to look out for when photographing your crafts, design work or jewellery.
1. Work with a professional photographer
Using a professional photographer might cost more initially but is a worthwhile investment. Good images will get you selected for crafts fairs, exhibitions and publication.
Ideally work with somebody who has got specialist experience in working with crafts people or designers, especially if you have really fine work as a jeweller or have more complicated products such as mirrors or want to work with models.
You can ask friends and colleagues for recommendations or look through online crafts directories, publications or online photo libraries. As the copyright of the image is kept by the photographer, they are often credited and therefore easy to identify!
Before making the selection, have a look through a number of different portfolios with work that is similar to what you are after, and talk or meet different photographers to identify whom you want to work with.
2. Brief your photographer
After you have selected a photographer you need to brief them on exactly what it is you are looking for.
Clarify the purpose of your images e.g. to be used for website or for a printed brochure.
the format that you would prefer, your ideal time scale, and your total budget. Make sure that you agree your brief in writing, to avoid any miscommunication.
3. Check out the competition
Start collecting images that you like so that you can clearly brief your photographer and show examples.
Check out trade magazines, exhibition brochures and lifestyle press to see what is being selected and how the photographs have been taken. See if you can access an (online) image library such as The Crafts Council’s Photostore to check out your competition or role models, and learn from their mistakes.
It will really help you to identify what you want, and what you don’t want, and having a selection of images will make it far easier to communicate with your photographer.
4. Decide what to include in your images
Obviously it’s important to show your work to its best. This sounds so obvious, but is often forgotten! Especially now with so many people selling online, it really is very important to show what makes your work stand out and of high quality. Therefore, if the scale of your work is important then include something in your image that shows how big or small your work is. If you your jewellery is really fine than go up close to show the quality of your materials and jewellery making skills.
Have a combination of factual and more atmospheric images of your work i.e. show your table from the front with the total image, show a detail shot of your craft skills or quality of materials, but also show the table in situ at a client’s home.
It is also really important to have some images with a plain white or black background as they are easier used by photo editors for so called ‘cut outs’. Also this will help you if you shoot images throughout the year, but you need a consistent collection of images to send to trade fairs or editors. Colourful artwork will become more vibrant against a black background.
Show your work in use or with props to provide a context, as this can be very effective.
Also, if you are photographing a product, have general overview images and detail images e.g. an image of a range of dresses in your shop as well as the button detail and quality of stitching and fabrics.
A collection of products can also work really well – both to show the variety of what you do, but also to showcase the scale of your products.
5. Be careful with using people
Models can be used very effectively in images and can really bring fashion and home accessories to life. However, if it is not done professionally they are one of the quickest ways to make your work looks very amateurish…
Use professional models if possible, and use a stylist or make up artist to help you.
Be aware that you will need written permission of any people who can be identified if you want to use these images for publication, so be very aware of this if you are photographing in public spaces. Also if you are using children as models you will need written consent of their parents.
6. Use relevant name, captions and tags
When you save your images make sure that you name them properly. Don’t use “image 1″, but use something like “yourname2012bluevasefront”. This will help you to identify your images easier, but especially will help photo editors or exhibition organisers who will be identifying potential images for publication.
Make sure you provide appropriate captions on a separate piece of paper with all images, and include the title of your work, year of production, name of the artist, and name of the photographer. In addition you can include materials, dimensions, current owner of the piece (if relevant) or commissioner.
Especially when you sell online it is really important to use the right tag words so that people can find your work easier. Most online retailers or shops provide some advice on this too to there suppliers. Use it, as the easier it is to find you the more likely it is that your work will find a buyer!
7. Keep the memory
Make sure that you document your main work over the years and that you photograph work before you sell it. Once it is gone, it is gone!
It will provide you with documentation and development of your work, which might be really useful for creative and promotional purposes. Or even for that major retrospective in the future!
8. Use your images creatively
You can use your images much more creatively by sending them to potential and current clients via an email newsletter to keep them informed of your activities and events.
An image of fabric in different colours can really liven up your price list and make it much easier for your clients to remember you.
On your CV or artist statement include one or two images of recent work and postcards are also a good alternative to business cards for those starting a creative business.
9. Know your copyright rights!
If you have created the product you will own the copyright. However, the photographer owns the copyright of the images of your products so try to get the copyright of these images from the photographer (for which you might have to pay more), and agree when and how the images can be used. Make sure that you always get their name published as well as your own name, in case of publication, if you do not own the image’s copyright.
If you are interested in photographing your own work professionally, then you might also like …
Online crafts retailer Etsy has got a great practical and free Guide to Photography available on line.
Or have a look at our recent book reviews of these two great books: Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos which is really aimed at people who want to present and photograph their work like Mollie Makes or Living Etc, and Photograph your own art and craft with 14 tips to use models professionally
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