Apr 29, 2018

A Good Booth Shot is a Must!

1 comment

If you want to move your art fair career forward, a good booth shot is a must. Learn about it here. Share your experiences too.

Apr 29, 2018


How to Take a Great Booth Picture


The importance of a good booth picture How important is the booth photo? Besides the artwork images, the booth image can easily make or break an artist’s career doing art shows by keeping you out of even the shows that are considered easy to get into. Some artists spend a great deal of money having their artwork photographed but don’t even think of improving their booth picture until they start an application, if they even think about it at all. Like the art images, the booth image needs to be read easily without causing the jurors to spend even an extra second understanding exactly what they’re seeing. They should glance at it, consider it professional looking, and then spend their time evaluating your artwork images.

For the shows that project the images, the jurors are seeing all the images simultaneously for not more than 20 seconds and sometimes closer to 10 seconds. If you don’t think that the booth image is that important, attend an open jury and view your competitor’s images, or attend a mock (image evaluation) jury and listen to the critiques of the jurors.

Tips on how to take a good booth image The best place to photograph your booth is not at an art show where you don’t have control over the environment or the weather. It’s better to set it up for the picture at home on an overcast or cloudy day so there is even lighting and no sun streaks which might draw the juror’s eyes. Make sure not to have any signs, identification, ribbons and especially no people in the booth picture. I’ve seen booth pictures with so many people in the booth that you couldn’t tell what they were selling. When asked why, the artist told me that they thought to have a better chance of getting in if their artwork was popular. I’ve also seen pictures of an empty canopy because the artist didn’t understand that they actually had to show their artwork in the booth picture.

Setting the booth up The canopy must be white and all three walls need to be seen in the picture. The sides of the canopy need to be in place so there is nothing distracting showing through the booth to draw the juror’s eyes. You can shoot two walls from a corner but still need to see along the third wall to satisfy the three walled booth picture requirement. The last thing you want is to be forced to create different booth pictures for each application. The floor must be clean of debris and leaves or put down a carpet.

Arranging the artwork If you’re photographing 2D work it’s best to take the glass out of the frames to eliminate reflections before shooting. If you have multiple pieces on each wall, line up the tops of pieces on the top row so they are all at the same top height around the booth. It makes the booth look more professional and enables the juror’s eyes to flow. And a symmetrical looking booth reads easier and looks more professional. If you use bins to display unframed art, make sure to include bin(s) in the booth picture. The booth picture needs to be representative of how your booth will look at a show. If you’re photographing 3D work and are using tables, consider hanging large photographs of your pieces to take up wall space and make the booth look fuller. Think of it as a way to show the jurors additional jury images. If you use tables with covers, make sure the covers are wrinkle free. Consider using pedestals or desks from Pro Panels or Armstrong Display. Or at least raise your table height to approximately 40 inches. If possible, don’t have objects overlapping from the camera position and make sure everything in the booth faces the camera. Consider the camera position as the juror’s perspective, not how you normally set up the booth.

Setting the camera Use a tripod. It eliminates camera movement and it’s the only way to check object placement from the camera angle before you shoot.

Taking the picture Do not use a cell phone camera. They lose detail in the highlights which can’t be recovered. Understand that no matter what camera you use, your image will still need editing for it to be accurate. Shoot wider than the canopy so the walls can be squared up before the image is cropped.

Leaving the tripod in position, take the memory card out and pull the images up on the computer. Take note of everything that can be changed to improve the picture. Go out and make the changes, shoot again and check again on the computer. If you’re working remotely with a friend or consultant, ask for feedback by sending the pictures while you’re shooting, not after you break the booth down.

I can't tell you how many photos I've taken of my booth thinking, "YES, this is the one!" Then I go in, upload all of them I took to my computer and realize that NO, it was NOT good. A water bottle rolled into the scene. My cat walked by. A leaf blew in. The walls looked wonky. The painting was hung at an angle. Every little thing counts more than you can imagine! I've used Photoshop to clean up strange shadows on the ground. I've used it to make the booth square because I had my tripod at a bad angle. When you look in the camera, the shot looks great. But get it away from the camera and on a computer screen and it's a whole other story. THAT story is what the jurors are looking at. It has to be good.

Summary A good display picture is not easy and it takes time to get it right. If the jurors are distracted and waste even a second or two noticing something out of place, you might be losing 10% of the time they are looking at your work. Be careful of an overly bright white canopy because it’s human nature that our eyes are drawn to the brightest part of an image or brightest image in a presentation. Crop most of the white canopy top off and crop in tight on the sides. They only need to know that it’s an outdoor picture under a white canopy and need not see the entire top to understand.

Again, make sure you have nice walls. Don't take the booth shot at a show where you can see your neighbors' weights, booth legs, or stock. No people should be in the shot. Keep it nice and CLEAN and easy to understand your body of work in 20 seconds.



This is such a great booth shot. I love it! You can see all the art. It's clean and well laid out. There are no people in it. There's nothing in the floor, even on the floor peeking out from behind the booth. Just terrific. I understand the art is a second. I want this person in my show. -- BTW: When selling at a show, this is a great design. Notice how the back right wall sticks out a little bit further toward the front? This is where she can put her desk and chair and supplies hidden but accessible.


SO, SO, but....

Okay, well, this would be fine for being AT at show, but not for a booth shot for applications. See if you can guess why.

1.) All a juror will look at is all the stuff outside the booth on the walls and floor. No kidding.

2.) Look carefully at the far left back corner of the booth. There appears to be a big gap where you could see things behind the booth. It could be a car back there, a weird piece of equipment. Who knows. But fix it. That's the kind of thing where when you look at your photo on the computer, you'll say, "Oh my gosh, I didn't even see that before!"

3.) Crop, crop, crop the photo as alluded to in #1. But also, use Photoshop to straighten the legs

This tent does appear to be a Trimline or LiteDome which is good, albeit expensive for those starting out, or those who've had way too many back surgeries from doing art fairs.



Here we go. After reading all these posts, can you guess why this doesn't work? I knew you could!

1) It's messy

2) No clue what's being sold

3) Where is the tent?

4) Where are the walls?

5) Which is the neighbor and which is the artist?

6) Are they hanging things on the tent legs?

7) It was taken at a show

8) Who's the lady and the man on the left?

9) Really don't want to see the neighbors' work. They aren't the ones applying.

10) Put some wall on the sides to make your space your own little store/gallery.




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