The room sounded like it was full of pirates. Another booth photo had come up on the screen and jurors groaned…..arghhh.
Artists understand what I am about to talk about, for my non-artist readers, an explanation is due. When we artists want to be in a show we just can’t add our names to the list. We must apply and be juried in. The application process usually involves answering a few questions, sending images of one’s work, and a booth photo of how one’s booth looks. Once the applications are all in a jury will review and score them. The highest scoring artists are accepted in the show.
It sounds so simple, but continues to mystify us artists as we apply to shows with our great work and don’t get it. WHY!? is always the question. Part of the answer is Booth Photo!
I recently had the opportunity to sit through a jurying for a show. I was not a juror but an observer.
What struck me and everyone else in the room was the poor quality of many of the booth photos. Many artists booth photos were just plain awful. Why did they waste their application fee by using such a poor quality booth image?
Well, actually many of us know.
Booth photos are a pain to get. We artists realize we need one in the dead of winter, as we are starting to fill out applications. Our booths are packed away and we try to figure out if we even took a photo of our booth last summer. Or do we have a decent shot from a few years ago, hopefully after we changed to our new work or redesigned our booth. Yeah, I have one...I remembered to take one...now where is it?
This wasn’t a fussy jury. A simple shot of the booth as it would look at this show was all they wanted. It didn’t have to be professionally shot. For emerging artists or non-show artists images of their work as a grouping was acceptable.
Artists without a good booth image had handicapped themselves and their application. As artists we never want to give the jury a reason to say NO to our application. In many cases the artists had done just that with their poor booth image.
Images that did not show the artist’s work in situ. Booth images shot with camera phones, shot with the sun coming directly into the camera lens, out of focus, with a turned over coffee cup and other debris in the booth. Images of booths with art work totally unrelated to the work the artist was jurying. (What would they show up with if accepted or is that even their booth?) Booths with the side walls pulled back so only the blue porta potties show, not the artwork. A particular irritant to this group of jurors was the booth images with the names of the artists on the booth, despite the show’s prospectus asking that NO names be visible. Images with people in them, more often then not the artist, happily selling his/her work. Or so many people that one can’t see the booth. The jury saw one side of a booths, a partial corner, the grass and roof of the booth, while the artwork was hard to discern. Heavily photoshopped booth images, were commented on, and disparaged a bit for being too overworked. A screen capture of the home page of a website with an explanation to the jury why no booth photo, was not well-received. Neither were scanned images of photographs or slides, that looked dirty, dusty, and out of focus.
The booth had been cleaned up of misc debris, people, signage, names. The shot was clear, in focus, correctly exposed, and showed the jury how the artist’s work would present at the show. The photos shot at a shows were just as well received as those shot in a photog studio. The jury saw no need to set-up a special shot in a studio setting. The best ones showed similar work in the booth as was being juried.
Moral of this story:
We artists need to be out there shooting our booths all summer long to get the best booth image we can for next year’s round of applications. It is must, so juries can say YES to our applications.