Photographers often fall into the trap of thinking that because they have an artistic eye, they’re qualified to design their web site and promotions without help from a designer. But turn that logic on its head: What’s your reaction when a designer says, “Photography? I can just do that myself”?
Design isn’t intuitive, any more than good photography is, and just because you recognize good design doesn’t mean you can produce it. So do your own design work at your peril.
“Clients will judge you immediately by your design and presentation,” says Amanda Sosa Stone, photo director at Found. “If you do it yourself, you’re going to look like you’re arriving in a minivan. Which is fine if that’s what you want to convey, but not if you want to look like you’re arriving in a Land Rover.”
Creative consultant Mary Virginia Swanson says that photographers have to bring the same level of creativity to their website and printed materials that they bring to a shoot for clients. Designers help you do that by creating a consistent look and feel to your printed and digital promotional materials that reflects your brand identity.
“Great pictures are lost to bad design, and you have only one chance to make a good impression,” Swanson says. (To impress upon her clients and seminar audiences how different design is from photography, she recommends a book called Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton.)
Good design, like good photography, is expensive. The cost can be out of reach for photographers just starting out. For those photographers, online services such as MagCloud, Blurb Books and website hosting services provide pre-designed templates for portfolio websites and printed books that would be otherwise un-affordable. While those resources can save you from really bad design, they have their limitations.
“I think the template revolution is extraordinary,” Swanson says. “But I see photographers going only so far as plugging things into a template. I worry about the use of templates stunting people’s creativity.” The risk of relying on those DIY templates instead of hiring a designer is that your presentation and brand end up looking indistinguishable from so many others, she explains. “Photographers have less and less time to impress [clients],” Swanson says. “By investing in a designer, you can give yourself a brand identity across all of your marketing components.”
See more at “5 Things You Should Not Do Yourself”
“I always have a plan B in my back pocket [on a shoot], or what my crew refers to as my bag of tricks,” says Ramona Rosales, who photographs celebrities for clients including ESPN, BUST, GQ, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times Magazine and TIME, among many others. Rosales spoke with PDN for our... More ›
Clients are notorious for tight budgets and high expectations for photo shoots, or as art producer Karen Meenaghan says, “It’s beer budgets and champagne tastes.” In our story “7 Tips for Getting Clients to Pay What You Are Worth,” photographer James Farrell explains that he always asks clients who call to hire him what their... More ›
A big challenge for documentary filmmakers is raising money to fund their projects. The key is developing an effective funding pitch, says Sean Flynn, program director at Points North Institute. The institute provides intensive training on how to pitch film projects, and holds a forum to give filmmakers a chance to practice their pitches on... More ›