So it’s time for you to fill out an application for a show that you’re just dying to get into and it’s juried. What is a juried show you ask? They’re typically very competitive shows that get more wonderful applicants than they have room for so they have to narrow down their selection through a juried process. They place each applicant’s work in front of a jury and carefully select the best and widest array of work possible; trying their best to keep the vendors selected completely different from one another.
If you have to win over the jury on your product before you are accepted into this amazing show, how do you do that when the jury can’t physically hold, touch, and inspect your product? You do this through having excellent photographs. Don’t just set your product on your kitchen table and snap a picture. Have fun with it! Here are a few pointers for wowing the jury with your product photography:
1. Show off your product!
• Think about your favorite aspects of your product and be sure you highlight those in your photos. Are you drawn to the delicate features you’ve individually hand drawn onto your product or are you in love with the simplicity of your elegant accessories? Photograph that shit.
2. Put thought into it. Create a layout.
• Don’t just set your product on your kitchen table, snap a photo, and call it good. Put some thought into it! Think about where your product will be used or worn. Perhaps your photography skills would be best utilized in your product’s natural environment. Or perhaps, your product would shine best with a simple background; having the sole focus be on your product. What about incorporating simple props into your photo to add variety and show the scale of your product? There are many ways to have an excellent photo!
• As an example, for my small accessories I like to use a smooth-paper sketch pad (texture can be distracting) and fold it into an L-shape between the wall and the base of my photography station. I then set my product in the center and photograph close-up, making sure to crop out anything in the background that might be distracting.
3. Play with the lighting.
• In my opinion, this is probably the most important factor to having an excellent photo. Indirect natural daylight is key and whatever you do: NO FLASH! The flash on your camera is just like putting your product in direct sunlight; it gets bleached and washed out and your photo loses so much of it’s potential luster. I like to photograph my jewelry in my studio, with my photography station against the east wall that lets in light through our south-facing window. As nerdy as it is, I study when the best time to photograph is and in my studio with the set-up I have, the best photos are taken between 11:00am and 1:00pm. Play around with different spots throughout your home and decide where the best place (and time of day!) to photograph your work is!
4. Show your product’s versatility and variety.
• Typically, juried shows ask for a submission of 3-5 photos of your best work. If you have a ton of work, it can be super overwhelming trying to narrow down your photo selection to just 3-5 photos! What I like to do is submit one close-up, one with my branding displayed, one of my product in its natural environment (so for me, a jewelry artist, I have a photo of my work being modeled), and then 1-2 photos that I think will be the icing on the cake.
•If you make many different items, choose a few favorites and be sure to include a photo of each one. You never know which one will catch the jury’s eye!
5. Don’t procrastinate!
• Being a procrastinator myself, I struggle with this one! But if you want excellent photos, you must plan ahead and take your time. Carefully select each and every photo that you submit. And hey, submitting your photos and application in a timely manner looks great in the eye of the jury!
A few last minute pointers:
• You don’t have to have an amazing high-tech camera or expensive photo-editing software to achieve a wonderful photo. Work with what you have. I usually use my Nikon D3200 for my online photos and edit them with the simple editing features of Iphoto; however, the camera on my Iphone takes wonderful photos as well! If I use my Iphone to take a picture, I like to play with the lighting using the PicTapGo App (best $0.99 I’ve ever spent!). There are also many free photo-editing programs online!
•When editing your photos, it’s important to not overdo it. Keep the colors, textures, etc. as close to their truest state as possible. With this in mind, it’s amazing what a little brightening up of a photo can do!
• Slow and steady wins the race! A steady hand will snap the best photo. Keep your camera as still as possible while photographing; any movement will cause your photo to be blurry. I typically sit on the floor with my kness pressed against me and rest my camera on my knees (it’s not a pretty sight, but it does the trick!) otherwise you can rest your camera on a stack of books at the height you want your camera to be or use a tripod. All of these will greatly improve the quality of your photo.
•Lastly, if you’ve done all these steps and still didn’t get into the show you applied for, don’t be hard on yourself! Everyone is going to have a show that they don’t get into. Use that application as experience and have at it again the following year! Practice makes perfect, right?
– Dana is the artist and maker behind botny and an awesome part of our Unglued Crew this year! She has been in every Unglued: Craft Fest since its existence and also in shows like Craftstravaganza, No Coast Craft-o-rama, Alley Fair, and more. As an animal lover she regularly volunteers with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue and is a pitbull advocate and black cat lover! You can also follow her animals and family with instagram on their adventures.