ARTS THREAD’s guide to the best way to use images to promote your work.

High-quality images are important for marketing. This includes images for use on your own website or blog and for printed materials such as flyers or postcards. They are also a key marketing tool for the press, to send to prospective clients and for applications for exhibitions, galleries and grant bodies.

WHAT IMAGES DO I NEED?

Consider where you want to use the images –see the list above – and how long you expect them to be used for?

In most specialisms, designers offer two formats.

  • The most important is the simple ‘product’ photograph, shot against a white or greyscale background, with some images being close–ups of details. This is the most difficult to photograph as a non-professional.
  • The second format is ‘styled’ shots showing your design in context – a product being used. This might be a lamp within a room set or jewellery/accessories on the body.

SHOULD I PHOTOGRAPH THEM MYSELF OR PAY FOR AN EXPERT?

  • For the simple ‘product’ photograph, it is advisable to have professional images, as it is not just the high-quality camera lenses, it’s the lighting and experience that you are paying for. In some areas of design such as jewellery, fashion and textiles, it is customary to have images taken by a professional.
  • Some designers learn to take their own images and if this interests you, enquire at the local university/college for classes – but remember you will have to buy the camera, lenses and lighting equipment too.
  • To keep the costs down, use the services of a recent photography graduate perhaps – but do check they have done this type of work before!

WHAT FILE FORMATS DO I NEED TO RECEIVE FROM A PHOTOGRAPHER?

  • Remember – you may not need the images in the formats below right now, but you never know – you might next week!
  • For print you will need images to be 300 dpi, TIFF files and as CYMK colour for print.
  • For the web, the images need to be 72 dpi, JPG files and RGB colour.
  • Consider if you need black and white versions?
  • If you are confident using programs such as Photoshop, as long as you have the high-quality files, you can resize and reformat them yourself. But if you are not technical, make sure the photographer delivers the images in all the formats you need, all clearly labelled and in a format you can open on your own computer.

I’VE HIRED A PHOTOGRAPHER  – WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

  • Be clear from the outset what type of images you want  – simple ‘product’, close-ups, styled images? And in what formats do you want the photographer to present the images? Put this in writing to the photographer so that he/she can confirm the quote for you.
  • Once you have a quote, check that it includes all the costs. This might include the hire of a studio or special lights and, of course, the cost of retouching the digital images.
  • Clarify with the photographer who is doing what – who is finding the studio, booking the model etc.?
  • Agree copyright issues with the photographer beforehand, in writing. Copyright stays with the photographer, even if you have paid for the images, unless you have an agreement in writing. In reality, most photographers doing this work professionally are happy for you to use the images as you please, as long as they have a credit each time. Also check if the photographer wants to use them on his/her own site – you should be flattered if they want to – it’s quite normal practice.

BEFORE THE SHOOT – CONSIDERATION

  • For the simple ‘product’ shot – think about the lighting  – how do you want your product to appear? Is it supposed to gleam? sparkle in places? Is it best understood face on, or at an angle? Although you have hired a professional, he/she does not know your product as well as you do.
  • For a style shot –what background or set do you need? Do you use a location? Can you find one at low cost/free via a friend or friend of a friend? If there is a location you would like to use, talk to the owners about it – maybe they would be happy with a photo credit and the opportunity to use it in their own publicity perhaps.
  • Are you using a model? If you are and are going through an agency, check the copyright issues carefully – you don’t want to find you have to pay them again each time you use the images for another purpose. If it starts to get tricky –find a friend of a friend to do it – pay them and ask them to agree in writing to give you the rights to the image.
  • Alongside models comes hair and make-up. Some professional models will do their own, but you could ask a local college for names of their recent graduates (the best ones!) or approach a local hair & beauty salon and ask for their help in return for a photo credit.
  • If you are managing the shoot, make sure you have everyone’s contact details beforehand, especially their mobile number.

DURING THE SHOOT

  • Be prepared to be flexible – sometimes the idea you had of what the photo should be doesn’t work out – take advice from the photographer and don’t panic!
  • If you are managing the shoot, make sure everyone is well looked after with chairs, coffees, lunch etc. Having invested good money on the shoot, don’t risk a grumpy model or photographer’s assistant for the price of a few coffees.
  • Allow enough time, shoots always seem to take twice as long as you think they should.
  • Remember to thank everyone for their hard work when it’s over.

AFTER THE SHOOT

  • Be prepared to pay the photographer promptly on receipt of the images.
  • Make sure you label the images, make duplicates of them and store them safely.

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