Better Greeting Card Photography
So you want to get into the photography business and are not quite sure which genre or style to pursue that will allow you to practice your craft but will also be rewarding enough to let you continue.
One of the most underrated and overlooked genres form a photographic viewpoint or shall I say business point is and has been for some time the greeting card industry. Not only are the major players in this industry always looking for fresh images but with some know how and a few supplies, mainly a good computer set up and printer, an individual photographer can turn this style into a full fledged business or at the very least make some residual income.
The holidays always provide a boost in the sale of greeting cards and savvy photographers can use this to their advantage. You can start with family and friends and charge a very modest fee, with the understanding that they will recommend your services upon learning of such opportunities through their friends and acquaintances.
Even with the best camera, digital or otherwise, the best lenses, flash unit, and tripod most amateur's photographs do not come close to the quality and vision of a photograph taken by a professional or taken by someone with great knowledge about the techniques and applications involved in photography.
Many consumers will take a snapshot and have it printed by a printing company into a pre-designed greeting card, and often the card design overshadows the photo itself. Using your photographic knowledge and skills and perhaps with a little digital touch up you can make images that can really stand out when transferred into a greeting card.
This can be done at home but if possible, you should use the services of a quality print shop. Many of these print shops also take the photos themselves and then imprint them onto card designs, but a printer is a printer first and a photographer second. Think of establishing a working relationship with one of them and half your work is done.
This work is often seasonal but there are many holidays to which you can be drawn. And don't forget especial occasions too such as birthdays, weddings, the birth of a child, graduation, baptism and family gatherings and so on.
Businesses are always looking for innovative and cost effective marketing efforts. Approach your local businesses and offer to do some proofs. Capture images of the establishment inside and out, the personnel, the products or services and clientele and turn them into posters, business cards or greeting card size postcards. They are inexpensive to do and easily stored and always seem to work better in promoting the business than regular advertising.
Keep in mind to develop a different approach and style for each business type; the approach for a club is totally different from that of a bank. This technique or business approach to photography is not new, but has always been aimed mainly towards the card design and printing efforts rather than to the photograph featured on the design.
Make your own self promotional samples and freely distribute them amongst businesses, friends, acquaintances and on events. Visit stores and ask permission to leave some samples at the counter, many locales will allow you to leave them for their customers and now you have just made another possible client. Offer these business owners or the managers to do some personal samples for free at their next birthday or celebration.
Use lighting techniques, macro shots, telephoto shots, wide angle and different angles to showcase your work. Do not fall into the routine of always doing "portraits". Apply the same innovation and skills that you would regularly use for your photography excursions towards the making of greeting and business cards. You may soon discover that you keep getting repeat business. A card with a photo not only makes the card more personalized but stands out more than a plain card which just information and it stays in the consumer's mind longer too.
Be polite and professional when soliciting new business, offer some samples first and ask for repeat business. Have a price list available and contracts if you feel they are needed. Include in the costs the printers fees, supplies, and your time and effort.
Discuss with printers the cost associated with bulk printing, and different materials such as glossy or mate as well as the costs if text inclusion is required.
As a side note, offer to also include a photo CD for the client from which they can order some new prints from you (do keep a copy CD), ask whoever makes the CD or if you do it to make it view only as well as to include a copyright watermark. Remind clients that the CD is for them to choose a different view but that you are the one who does the printing.
If you also plan on submitting samples to publishers of greeting cards, first research the popular themes and styles currently in production and take similar shots but from your style and perspective and include suggestions for the image use as well as suggesting a target audience.
With this approach you are only compensated for the image, the design and text is completely up to the publisher's discretion, therefore consider the fees as the large majority of these publishers use set standard compensation per image which should also include the number of reprints, and the photographer is paid accordingly.
The more reprints the more your image is worth, although this is usually decided after the first initial batch and is dependent on the popularity of the card/photograph.
Note: You should be aware that many if not most greeting cards publishers prefer to buy from a specialist; a photographer who specializes in one main theme or subject such as flowers, landscapes, animals, nature, sunsets, religious motifs, beach scenes ,inspirational themes, color only or in black and white.
Also consider doing shots of pets, funny animals antics, funny nature scenes, inspirational landscapes or situations, sunsets and ocean views always do good. Local schools have many sporting events, ask to cover such events and turn them into cards. This is a time tested routine for generating sales and new customers which in turn can open new opportunities such as the photographing of graduation ceremonies and school portraits.
Is this a worthwhile project?
- How to Sell Photos to Greeting Card Companies
Whether taking photographs is your pastime, your hobby or your profession, there are ways in which you can sell photos to greeting card companies. In fact, photography is a form of art
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez