Saturday, January 17, 2015

Biz of Art - Jury Booth Photos

This post kicks of a new series on my blog. Besides the designing, creating and selling of my art, there is a whole plethora of activities that fall under the more business side of things. Marketing, bookkeeping, graphics, planning and networking to name a few.

This time of year I spend time filling out applications for the coming year's shows. Most shows I apply to use a jury to view applications and determine which artists to accept. Before I can send out applications I need good photographs of my designs and of my booth. Today I will specifically talk about taking a booth shot.

Sounds easy enough, just take a photograph of your booth when it is set up at a show right?
My very first booth October 2009 at the Fremont Market, Seattle.
Wrong! According to Larry Berman, a well know photographer who offers jury photography services, "A booth image for jurying is a picture of what your display looks like at a show, cleaned up so there's nothing to cause the jurors to look at it longer than just a glance, so they can spend their time looking at your individual art images, which is what you really want to be juried on. "

So what does that mean? For me it meant thinking about arranging my booth for the camera and not for shoppers. Getting my one perfect shot took 3 days, that is not a typo, 3 days!!! I started by choosing a cloudy day to avoid shadows and then setting up my booth in my driveway. I invited a friend with experience in jurying into shows to help with the set up and to bring her digital SLR camera. I had another friend who has photo expertise standing by at her computer to critique the photos for lighting and focus. 

This is the booth shot I have been using for recent applications and my usual set up for a show.

For a jury shot we needed to remove all distractions. This meant drop the back wall,  remove all signs, remove the mirror, remove things that hang from the ceiling, remove the weights, remove the tubs, remove the chairs, etc. Once we pulled out some of those items my tables no longer looked symmetrical (important to me and my helper) so we centered them in the booth and I added more busts for necklace display. After each tweak we would take look through the camera we had on a tripod in front of the booth.

It was hard to switch my mind from setting up for shoppers to setting up for the camera. The camera has to see it or do not bother putting it out. That meant moving things so that the camera had a clear view of everything. If it was behind a bust - get rid of it. We turned everything to face straight forward. We choose items that would stand out.We worked on symmetry and things being straight. Our goals were clean lines and no distractions!

Of course by the time we were satisfied with our layout and finding the right camera setting for focus (3+ hours) the sun had come out! We tried to block it but no luck. We waited a bit longer to see what direct sun would look like.

Nope! Time to give up for Day 1. We carefully slid the tables into the garage, took down the tent and rolled up the rug. Day 2. It was afternoon before I could get back to the project. I put back the rug, set up the tent and put 2 tables in. Next I sent a test picture to my photo epxert.

Her verdict - light is wrong. Back into the garage until tomorrow. Day 3 was very dark and misty. I thought there was not enough light. I called my photo expert she said to go out and take a photo of anything and send it to her. I did and she gave the thumbs up for enough light. So back to the garage! Just to be sure, I only put 1 table in the tent and then sent a shot to my friend. Still thumbs up.

This time went much quicker. I had taken pictures with my phone of the set up so was able to quickly put things back that had moved during the transfer of the tables. I'd take a few shots, send them to my friend, then go back and tweak things. Here is the raw photo she chose as the best.

I had asked her to add the 3 photos of my jewelry I am using for jury's to the back wall to look like posters. Note: during the booth set up we made sure these 3 designs were visible in my booth. Here is the final after she ran it through Photoshop.

I love it!!! Worth every minute of effort. And I could not have done it without the help of my friends. Now lets see if it gets me into shows that I have not been able to get in to. To learn more about jury photos I recommend looking at the articles and examples on Larry Berman's website. I will do another post about the process to take my jury artwork photos. 


Unknown said...

What a great article Ann!

Ann said...

Thanks MaryLou! I have a whole list of ideas for this series.