Photographer’s “promos” are often the first introduction to your work that a prospective new client will see, and as such they deserve your full love and attention.
There are some great resources on the web to help get a feel for how other photographers are thinking about their promos – some of the best include as Heather Morton’s blog and No Plastic Sleeves. If you look though these sites you’ll find all matter of interesting portfolios, many of which are the results of some very creative thinking.
I thought I’d contribute my bit by discussing the creation of my new promo card. My objective isn’t to help you emulate my design – your promo needs be be a reflection of you, not me – but rather to talk you through some of the thoughts and considerations that I had during the design stage. I hope that this may help you to get on the right track for your own creative process.
First, let’s consider what we’re trying to achieve. A promo should:
- bring awareness of your existence to new and old clients.
- make them want to visit your site.
- make them want to remember you, preferably by sticking your promo up on their wall with the best of the rest.
But we should be aware that a promo will also:
- form part of your brand – your identity. Your promo says something about who you are, so it’s in your interest to make that first impression count.
- set expectations – if you have a beautifully produced promo and a shoddy web site the client is likely to feel disappointed when then visit, and that’s not what you want. Your branding needs to be of consistent quality across the board.
With these considerations in mind I started to think about my new promo.
There are some really great promos out there, going from the giant in-your-face wall posters to small boxes filled with interesting goodies. There’s no doubt that these’ll attract attention and make you stand out from the crowd, but you’ll need to set aside a good sized budget! I also imagine that some clients may be a little put off by the photographer’s care-free attitude to the environment when they receive a giant poster….
This concern is also a valid argument for not sending printed promos at all – email suffices. The problem with email, however, is that it’s so easily ignored. It’s a fine line to tread.
I decided to print a card, but rather than going with the classic post-card style of promo I chose a more unusual format that I would post in an envelope.
When folded the card measures just 10x15cm (good for the mail), and when unfolded completely it’s 42x15cm (A3 in width, A6 in height). I felt that this long panoramic format had lots of potential, left room for a very large main image (for visual impact), and also matched the panoramic format of my business cards (subtly maintaining my brand).
With the format chosen I started thinking about the graphic design and about the images that I wished to use.
Once again I considered my brand. My website uses lots of white space to keep it fresh looking; the text is grey and I use a green accent colour (also found on the business cards). It was important for my brand that I maintain these aspects in the design of the card.
I wanted to choose images that showed various facets of my work, and I took a lot of time choosing images that worked well together and also allowed me to maintain the design considerations listed above – especially with the use of white space to keep it fresh.
Front page – Skate boarder
When the promo is folded the front page is small, so I needed an image that wouldn’t clutter the design. I felt that the skate boarder had a certain edginess to it that was appealing – it’s an image that generates good feedback. It also had a great format – thin and vertical – allowing me to use whitespace to give breathing room. Finally, the image itself sends messages to the viewer:
- The backdrop is very French, and France is a very salable location photographically.
- The image is conceptually interesting – I wish to be associated to this sort of imagery.
- It shows that I’m quite happy to be taking images in a town center – I don’t wish to get type-cast as a photographer of the great ourdoors, which may be a risk with active lifestyle photography.
Inside double-spread – Acrobat
For the second image I wanted something dynamic, and the acrobat was a perfect choice due to its blown out background and the green grass corner. Once again the whitespace helps to maintain freshness and brand image, and also leaves room for the text.
Cutting the image in two across the opening of the two pages was an aesthetic decision – I felt it made the design more interesting.
Inside 4-page spread – Swimmer
The swimming image from a recent self-promotional shoot was a obvious choice for this promo design. The image is original and has lots of visual impact, its format fits perfectly into the panoramic space and there’s even room for more white space above and below! The colour palette is once again green, and that further helps to pull the branding aspects into the design resulting in a promo card that feels coherent in its design.
I also placed my logo on this page so that my identity wouldn’t be lost if this page where left open on a desk or pinned to a board.
I kept the text simple and to the point – art buyers are busy people. I considered what the most important things were that I wanted to say:
- What I do (specialised area).
- My nationality and country of residence (since these aren’t the same). It may seem irrelevant to state that I’m British, however these cards will be sent to many anglophone countries and I wouldn’t want to lose potential clients who may concerned about the language barrier when dealing with a photographer in France.
- To ask the viewer to visit my site.
The text is in both English and French since these are the two markets that are most easily accessible to me. I could have had separate promos printed for each language but I felt that this tells the client something else about me, and that’s useful information.
The back page is home to my contact information. The design matches the back of my business cards – branding!
You may love or hate this design (preferably the former, especially if you’re an art buyer!), but in any case I hope this post will serve its purpose and help you start thinking about your upcoming promo design. A little thought now may help you go a lot further later…