An image can say more than a 1,000 words, so it is essential that your photographs give out the right message. These 9 top tips to photograph crafts and jewellery will show you step-by-step show what to focus on.
Tip 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.
Many magazines and bloggers will be far more likely to publish your work if your photographs are of professional standard, and can be used immediately.
A good photographer can make you and your work really come alive, and help you create your brand.
A great new collection of images can even improve your confidence – in yourself and your work!
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.
Tip 2: Brief your photographer
After you have selected a photographer you need to brief them on exactly what it is you are looking for.
Specify 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.
Our Business Club members can watch here a webinar with photographer Yeshen Venema on how to work with a professional photographer.
Tip 3: Check out the competition
Start collecting images that you like so that you can clearly brief your photographer and show examples.
Have a look at how your rolemodels are presenting themselves online and through their images. Check out their websites, Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts.
How do they visualise their brand values through their images?
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 Etsy, Pinterest or The Crafts Council Directory of Makers to check out your competition or role models, and find out what they do well and learn from their mistakes.
The key here is NOT to copy what others have done, but find your own, authentic style! 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.
Our Business Club members can watch here a webinar with professional photographer Jackie King on how to use images to create your brand and tell your story.
Tip 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 or stitch work is really fine than go up close to show the quality of your materials and jewellery making skills. If you colours are vibrant than make them sparkle!
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.
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.
Show your work in use or with props to provide a context, as this can be very effective. But don’t overload the picture! Remember: Your work needs to be the hero of the image!
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.
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.
Tip 5: Be careful using models
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.
Tip 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 “yourname2014bluevasefront”. 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 (on the selling site, but also in general through image searches) the more likely it is that your work will find a buyer!
Tip 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!
If you have an event or exhibition don’t forget to take some photographs then. It’s for your own collection, but also to share on your website or social media to build your profile. Include some pictures of you in the photographs too as these are great for your profile.
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!
Tip 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.
Tip 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.