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Guest Blog: Ed Barber - How to capture your best work

Presenting your work: how to brief a photographer to capture your best work!


It is essential to have high-quality images of your work for exhibitions and for funding, grant and promotional activities:

  • High-quality photos are vital tools in marketing and promotion.
  • Work in progress and record shots done by makers themselves are historically interesting, but all too often prove inadequate for PR and marketing purposes.
  • Call on the services of a professional photographer who specialises in this kind of work.
  • Always ask to see samples of their photography.
  • It will cost more than you think to do the job properly. Give the photographer a clear brief.
  • Make sure that he/she understands the concept and is prepared for you to be both client and art director.
  • Be specific about film formats you want used - e.g. 35mm transparencies will be the most useful, but other higher quality formats could be appropriate (5x4, 6x6, 6x7). Will you need black and white, or colour, or both? Colour transparencies or colour prints? Digital images?
  • Always get a detailed estimate, and make sure that all the costs are included - fees, film and processing, Polaroids, prints, studio and facilities hire, props, assistant's fees, model fees, make-up/styling costs, travel and delivery costs. Be prepared to pay a cancellation feel if you change your mind at short notice and decide not to go ahead with the shoot.
  • Make sure that you and the photographer are in agreement over how the images will be used and what your rights are in the photographs.
  • Before committing large sums of money to photography of your work, always think through the entire concept. What will be the most effective way of showing your work to potential clients, consumers and audiences? Where will these images be used? What shelf life do you need from them? Are they for grant applications, slide indexes, postcard printing, brochures, posters, exhibition catalogues, books, or a combination of these?
  • Give careful consideration to the lighting. What will suit the work best? What will be most informative, dramatic, moody, enigmatic, or whatever?
  • Will a studio or location be most useful? What kind of background do you want - paper, cloth, specially painted, textured, natural materials (rock, wood, pebbles, fruit, anything you like) or architectural? Will you need permission to use the location?
  • Will you need models, and therefore hair and make-up? Will you be doing the styling as well as the art direction? Will you be taking on the role of 'producer' for the shoot, with overall responsibility for logistics and making sure that everything and everybody is in the right place at the right time on the right day?
  • Be prepared to pay the photographer cash on delivery of work.
  • Clarify copyright issues at the outset.


Courtesy of Ed Barber, photographer


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