Booth photos…arghhh

7 05 2009

The room sounded like it was full of pirates. Another booth photo had come up on the screen and jurors groaned…..arghhh.

Artists understand what I am about to talk about, for my non-artist readers, an explanation is due. When we artists want to be in a show we just can’t add our names to the list. We must apply and be juried in. The application process usually involves answering a few questions, sending images of one’s work, and a booth photo of how one’s booth looks. Once the applications are all in a jury will review and score them. The highest scoring artists are accepted in the show.

It sounds so simple, but continues to mystify us artists as we apply to shows with our great work and don’t get it. WHY!? is always the question. Part of the answer is Booth Photo!

jury-image-2008

Jurying circa 2008

I recently had the opportunity to sit through a jurying for a show. I was not a juror but an observer.

What struck me and everyone else in the room was the poor quality of many of the booth photos. Many artists booth photos were just plain awful. Why did they waste their application fee by using such a poor quality booth image?

Well, actually many of us know.

Booth photos are a pain to get. We artists realize we need one in the dead of winter, as we are starting to fill out applications. Our booths are packed away and we try to figure out if we even took a photo of our booth last summer. Or do we have a decent shot from a few year’s ago, hopefully after we changed to our new work or redesigned our booth. Yeah, I have one….I remembered to take one….now where is it?

This wasn’t a fussy jury. A simple shot of the booth as it would look at this show was all they wanted. It didn’t have to be professionally shot. For emerging artists or non-show artists images of their work as a grouping was acceptable.

Artists without a good booth image had handicapped themselves and their application. As artists we never want to give the jury a reason to say NO to our application. In many cases the artists had done just that with their poor booth image.

The Don’ts: Images that did not show the artist’s work in situ. Booth images shot with camera phones, shot with the sun coming directly into the camera lens, out of focus, with a turned over coffee cup and other debris in the booth. Images of booths with art work totally unrelated to the work the artist was jurying. (What would they show up with if accepted or is that even their booth?) Booths with the side walls pulled back so only the blue porta potties show, not the artwork. A particular irritant to this group of jurors was the booth images with the names of the artists on the booth, despite the show’s prospectus asking that NO names be visible. Images with people in them, more often then not the artist, happily selling his/her work. Or so many people that one can’t see the booth. The jury saw one side of a booths, a partial corner, the grass and roof of the booth, while the artwork was hard to discern. Heavily photoshopped booth images, were commented on, and disparaged a bit for being too overworked. A screen capture of the home page of a website with an explanation to the jury why no booth photo, was not well-received. Neither were scanned images of photographs or slides, that looked dirty, dusty, and out of focus.

The Do’s: The booth had been cleaned up of misc debris, people, signage, names. The shot was clear, in focus, correctly exposed, and showed the jury how the artist’s work would present at the show. The photos shot at a shows were just as well received as those shot in a photog studio. The jury saw no need to set-up a special shot in a studio setting. The best ones showed similar work in the booth as was being juried.

Moral of this story:
We artists need to be out there shooting our booths all summer long to get the best booth image we can for next year’s round of applications. It is must, so juries can say YES to our applications.

Click for more info on booth photos from Larry Berman:

cmf-head-avatarCarla

sm-booth-photo-composite





Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

27 04 2009
garys-studio

Shooting my jewelry, at Gary's studio.

There are many kinds of artists. Some feel once one is an artist in any media, one can take on any other media….be it photography,  graphic design, or web design. I have found that being creative in one area does not necessarily translate to another.

My jewelry photog, Gary and I, struggled yesterday to get a shot of a pair of earrings just right. Actually I struggled. He had done his job, mine was to “style” the earrings into a pleasing arrangement. He took the photos, we evaluated each shot on his monitor and I continued to tweak, as he adjusted the lights.

I am often asked if I take my own photos. I always snort “No!” But why not? My father was a photographer, I learned at his knee. I have a friend who is a professional commercial photographer who willingly shares his tricks. I’ve seen Gary shoot my work many times.  I can certainly get a camera that has the capacity to take the images. But as I “styled” my jewelry and Gary rearranged his lights, I knew without a doubt that I shouldn’t be photographing my work. Its not within my creative suite. Its not within my studio set up, I don’t have the years of working in the field.

Consider when Michael Jordan left basketball to play baseball he had a short and unstellar career. Joaquin Phoenix is a great actor, but it remains to be seen if he can be a great singer. We’ve all designed or seen designed the MSWord business cards and/or brochures, that could be titled “Fun with Fonts.” I’ve certainly designed my share of bad over-done graphics. But I learned my lessons the hard way & I don’t do graphics nor am I designing my website.

I recently, had the opportunity to observe a jurying for an art show. There are some wonderful artists out there, its damn exciting to see their work. But not all artists are photographers. And as the jury commented several times, “What were they thinking?” What indeed. They didn’t further their own carefully crafted work, with their poor photography.

As my photog sez, it’s not what camera you use….that’s just the recording device. In photography it’s about the lighting. And I am convinced, that is a skill that must be developed over years. As a jeweler I can tell you its not the metal and the bling, its how its put together. The fact that I am a creative person doesn’t mean I should take on ALL creative projects that come my way.

I am best at being a jeweler. I’m at home there. I am a poor photographer, a font frolicking graphic designer, and a clueless web geek.

I don’t always have the time or money for it but I have learned to hire, barter, beg, pay over-time, whatever it takes to get the right creative professional for the job I need done. In the long run it is cheaper and saves more time.

This blog entry is for my Photog, WebGuy, & GraphicPeop. Thank you for being so good at what you do, so I don’t have to.

Coming soon: Thoughts on jury & booth images. The good, bad, and the GAWD AWFUL.

cmf-head-avatarCarla








Remind me again, why am I here?

30 03 2009

Art Shows/Festivals are the inevitable end to months of production for art show artists. Some artists love ’em, some hate ’em. I love doing shows. I can’t help myself. Hubby Dave has accused me of thinking each show is my personal block party, put on just for me to have fun with people.

Dave working, me gone visiting.....

Dave working, me gone visiting.....

I routinely disappear during set-up to greet friends, catch-up, laugh. While he is relatively tolerant of me waltzing off to visit instead of helping, he does ask I touch back in periodically to help.

But what’s to love about shows?

Art shows are hard work, usually following weeks of long days in our studios. Shows are a strenuous 3 days of standing in all sorts of weather from blazing heat, to winter snow (it happened in Scottsdale, AZ), high winds-that can lift one’s canopy and send it flying, torrential rains, bugs, dust, fumes, loud music, kettle corn smoke, etc are all to be endured.

Artists must pack up their precious work to get it safely to the show + they must also bring with them all the display apparatus, canopy, weights, stakes, credit card machines, packing materials, ground cover, nice clothes, food, and more. This gets stuffed into small vans, large vans, vans with trailers, trucks, trucks with trailers.

Time to set up.

Time to set up.

Upon arrival at a show artists spend hours setting up their 10′ x 10′ retail space, setting out their art, arranging it. This requires schlepping all this from a van or truck, lifting, reaching, tugging, pulling, pounding, screwing, and sometimes painting….

Set-up in rain & wind at Des Moines 2008.

Set-up in rain & wind at Des Moines 2008.

And then after long hours in the studio, a long drive, a long set-up we artists retire to a motel room to rest and get ready for day 1. We’re exhausted.

But on show days we dress up in our clean clothes, slick our hair into shape, and try to remember how to be a salesperson, instead of a solitary artist.

We endure silly questions & comments, “Did you make this yourself?” “My niece does work just like this” “Its awful expensive, could you tell me where you get your supplies?,” “What is it?” and try to smile and remember why we’re here.

We get hungry, eat too much festival food, must use endless porta potties, our feet hurt, our backs hurt, we’re tired, and often grouchy. This is no way to sell art, we think.

Then someone walks into our booth and starts talking about our work. Our head’s rise and we realize this person “gets it.” They understand what we are doing with our art, they love it, and they want to buy it.

A connection is made. I never know my end buyer when I create a new pair of earrings, but they are ever on my mind as I work. I consider how the earrings will hang in their ears, the comfort of a ring, how a bracelet will fit. And finally at the show, I get to meet these people, who I have had a silent dialog with as I create my jewelry.

It’s a golden moment.

All the hard work, bad weather, funny food, lost sleep, is forgotten in the joy of connecting with people. Be it customers or fellow artists, I find art shows feed my soul as much as making my art.

Where'd she go this time?

Where'd she go this time?