Pricing Your Kits and Leaflets
For how much is this item going to sell? It has to be enough to cover materials, overhead, and your other expenses. It also should be enough to yield a profit. How does one figure this out?
One way is to look at similar products already in the marketplace. What do leaflets run? Chartpacks? How closely does the printing job/photo/stitch diagrams/chart compare with yours? Working backwards
If you're making kits or leaflets, you need photographs of the finished stitchery. These need to be good photos, too, because a picture is worth a thousand words!
Unless you are a skilled photographer (amateur or otherwise) or can afford to pay whatever a professional would charge to make these still life shots, you probably will do your own photography. Or, at least you'll try before you holler "uncle!"
- Find some how-to books at the library and study them. Specially recommended: -Photographing Your Craftwork- by Steve Meltzer.
- Look at how designers and magazines photograph needlework.
- Is there a preponderant color for the background?
- How many props, on average, are used? What is the scale of these props, relative to the finished size of the needlework? (Do you want to have a "signature prop" which appears in all shots, such as a lamb wearing sunglasses because your business name is "Summer Lamb Designs"?)
- What photos appeal to you and why; why do not and why? Describe appealing and unappealing shots, trying to analyze what works and what doesn't and why.
- Use a camera that can be focused. The "idiot cameras" (as I call them) are designed for a particular focal distance (the distance between the camera and the object), and if your subject is not in this distance, the picture will be blurry. Needlework models are photographed up close to show details, so unless your project is a double-bed quilt, you'll need to come in closer than an idiot camera will allow.
- A solid-colored background is usually best.
- Avoid flash-back from the flash. This occurs when the flash hits a shiny object, such as glass. This is why most(all) photography models are framed without glass. Also look out for windows, lamps, and shiny props. Shooting from an angle off to the side also helps.
- Make sure the model is lighted well.
- Make sure the model is sitting straight and not cock-eyed! Or upside-down! (I remember a photo from a now-defunct needlework/crafts magazine showing several projects from an issue - - and one of the framed samplers was upside-down!)
- Make sure there is nothing extraneous on the model, such as pet hair.
- Whether you try to "fill the frame" of the viewfinder with the model depends on your facilities to crop the finished print. If you want to take a shot and then have your photo reproduced by the 100s to put on leaflet covers, your best idea is to work with a photo that fills the viewfinder when photographed because then the reprints can be made directly from the negative. It is now possible to have your pictures stored on disk (with or without the prints). You can crop, adjust brightness, and otherwise adjust such prints with a program like PhotoShop. Make sure your film house can deal with a photo on disk.
- Don't expect to make a borderline shot into a "useable" shot with Photoshop or another such program (ex.: the model was not well-enough lighted, but you "plan to fix that" with the software).
- For a class kit:
- A 3 1/2"-wide print is just fine, although you certainly can use the larger 4"-wide size if you prefer.
- A color shot is the industry standard.
- Glossy is better than matte.
- For a leaflet, the larger-sized print is better. Speak with your printer as to costs for a 4-color print directly on the leaflet paper. With a large enough order, the price per leaflet will not be too high, and it may be worth it to save photo reprint costs and time gluing on the photos exactly straight. (Also, you don't have to worry that the photo and the leaflet might part company during packing, shipping, unpacking, etc. Inquire before you photograph, as there may be different considerations.
Other Options for Photographing Models
Hiring a professional has been mentioned briefly. Look in the yellow pages, call your local newspaper (perhaps one of their people freelances), or ask for names of photographers who are skilled with product shots (as opposed to outdoor shots in the park with kids and the family dog).
Ask for prices.
Visit the photographers (make an appointment!) you think might be a good match. When interviewing them, ask to see their portfolios, in particular still lifes or product shots. Indicate that there will be repeat work down the line, which may encourage the photographer to take you on if she knows that once the two of you come to an understanding about what's needed in this shoot that administrative time can be minimized for future projects.
Ask for references and call these people. If possible, get references for past work that is like your own (ex.: not the kids + dog shots). Finding a needlework (or even a craft) photographer would be wonderful, but a long shot unless you live in a city where a needlework or craft magazine is published!
A professional's fees will be high, as befits the quality of the work you'll receive, but this might be more than you can spend, particularly if you are just starting a design studio and are opening on a shoestring.
Go to your local college or junior college and speak with the chairperson of the photography faculty (or the chair of the fine arts department). Ask for the names of several students who have the skills you seek and who might be willing to take on a paid assignment in addition to schoolwork projects.
Sometimes a high school student will have sufficient skill and talent to do the job for you. Call the school district office and ask for the high schools which have photography classes; and/or the chairperson of the fine arts faculty for the school district.
Since you know what a professional will charge you, you will have an idea what the going rate is for the work you have in mind. Thus you can come up with a reasonable fee to offer the student. As before, ask to see items from the portfolio and request references. In the case of the high school student, there may not be any references other than the student's teacher.
You may be able to barter for services: the photographer will shoot for no fee; you will allow the photographer use of the prints in his portfolio and maybe you'll buy a quart of chemicals for his darkroom. Ask. Students know about operating on a shoestring, and if you're honest with each other, this helps set up a good relationship. The student knows that down the road, when your business is going, you'll be able to pay cash.
copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.
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