Friday, September 22, 2006

My fall & winter plan: make improvements

Not a lot has gone on recently. Since my last show, I have no more scheduled shows this year. I was planning on applying for some fall shows (and there are 1 or 2 shows for late November/early December that I may still apply for), but I think after doing 5 shows this first year, I'm going to call it a good first year and wrap it up until next spring, for a few reasons.

First, between working a full time job and doing everything for my shows, I haven't been able to get a whole lot else done. I've fallen behind on some things around the house, so I'm catching up on some of that.

Second, I've also been on 4 photo trips this summer (Hocking Hills, Ohio; Maine; Michigan's upper peninsula; lighthouse of western Lake Michigan). I'm also looking to take one more trip (a fall color tour). Yet I've only had the opportunity to pull a couple of good photos out of it. I've got a number of good shots in there, but I haven't had time to pick out the best ones, post-process, print, and mat them. So I'd really like to get caught up on that.

Also, I'm looking to work on my presentation during the fall and winter months. There are a few things about my booth I'd like to change. The primary 3 are larger prints, matting, and framing.


Larger Prints

On the larger print front, I'd like to do exactly that. My largest matted prints are 11x15 matted to 16x20, and then I have four framed 12x18s matted to 18x24 (but nothing in that size unframed). I have nothing at all bigger than that. I'd like to do a few photos printed at 16x24 or 20x30 and matted accordingly (maybe 4 or 5 inch borders). I'd also like to go though my archives and see if I can pull out some more panoramic shots and print up a few of those at a nice size.


Matting

As far as matting, I made a decision originally to buck the trend of plain white mats. I though I could do better with some colored matting which was chosen to match the photo. So far, my colored mats have outsold my white mats, so my approach would seem to be successful. However, I'm starting to think there is a problem with my logic, and that my conclusions are flawed. People that like colored mats are usually going to choose to buy colored mats instead of the white mats, so that explains why those sell. However, the people that do NOT like colored mats probably just walk right out without realizing that I also offer them in white. In addition, even if they do look through and see the white mats, the plain white, single layered mats aren't all that nice looking, so that might not agree with them either.

So I'm thinking about a few options here. The first option is to find a nice looking white or off white that has some type of a subtle texture or pattern to it, and offering all of my prints in that same color. The other option, is to pick out 4 to 8 nice looking neutral tones (whites, blacks, grays, and browns) and use that for my matting.

I'm not really sure what approach to take here, so it's going to take a bit of playing around to figure it out.


Framing

This is a biggie. So far most of my framed prints have been done with cheap & simple aluminum frames (black or silver) bought from Michael's for 40% off. When I started I was thinking simple was better, but now I really don't think it makes all that nice of a display.

I've started to think that the framing really needs to be complementary to the photo itself. Other than my plain, standard frames, I have a set of lighthouse collages that I have displayed in a nice frame that, to me and others I've asked, gives a beachy or nautical feeling that is complementary to the lighthouse subject. Indeed, I've been mildly successful at selling these photos framed.

In addition, I've been looking around at the shows I was in and a couple other shows. I found a few other artists doing VERY well, and the first thing I really noticed was how well their framing matched their subject matter. One artist was selling African wildlife photos, and had some interesting frames. Zebra photos were in frames that had a subtle, stripe-like texture to it. Elephant photos were framed with roughly textured frames, much like an elephant's skin. Iridescent blue birds were in frames that had a thin, iridescent blue stripe embedded in the wood. Most of the frames gave that feeling. Another artist I checked out recently was selling old world European photos in very luxurious looking frames. They were incredibly eye catching, yet not at all distracting from the photo. They looked like they'd be right at home in a million dollar house.

Another benefit to redoing my frames is that I can switch things up a bit. First, I've had several photos on display that have sold nothing (or maybe just 1 print). I'd like to switch up those photos, and maybe get a display of more cohesive photos. In addition, the majority of my framed photos are in a different size than the mat sizes I sell. My mat sizes are all 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20, but the majority of the framed sizes are 12x16 (with a couple of the other sizes thrown in). This creates a minor problem in that people usually see the 12x16 and 11x14 as being the same size, and pointing out the difference just seems to cause confusion.

So now, in the last week, I've started seriously looking around online at different frame vendors to see what they carry. By the end of the month, I plan to start ordering frame samples, and hopefully by the end of October I'll start the process of ordering larger prints and frames to match.

Other Improvements

There's a lot of other small details to work on over the fall and winter. I'd like new pricing cards for the framed prints, nicely printed and laminated, displaying photo title, a short description, and a list of sizes and prices.

I need to find a better way of doing the mailing list signup. Right now I just have a signup sheet on a clipboard, and if I don't ask people to signup (which I don't do very often) they don't even notice it.

I'd like to have a work desk for behind my booth so that I can do my work back there instead of the shelf at the front of the booth. This will give me a few advantages. First, removing the shelf from the booth will give me a little extra wall space. Second, I wont have to turn my back on the entire booth to write up a sale. Third, I can keep my sales slips, tools, accessories, bags, etc in there, and more organized, instead of having them all tucked away in a few Rubbermaid containers. Overall, it will hopefully make me more organized.

I might try to work on some new display bins that give me some additional room, are free standing (instead of sitting on a table), and can close up to double as the storage area for my matted prints. This will make it easier to quickly put the prints away each night and then pull them out each day without having to order and arrange them.


Conclusion

To sum it all up, I'm looking at undoing a lot of stuff I did this year and starting many things over with a fresh perspective. My hope is that, in the end, I'll have a fresh and much more professional looking display for next year. I have 12-14 decent shows I plan on applying to for 2007, and then I'll fill in whatever gaps are left with whatever smaller shows are available.

2006 gave me a lot of ideas and experience. Hopefully 2007 will bring me a bit of profit.


1 comment:

J. L. Gould said...

Hi, Ron. I just wanted to drop you a quick note and say Thank You! for this blog. Its been a great help for me to read about another photographer's first year of shows as I prepare for MY first show. :)