Yesterday I spent pretty much all day long working on my booth shot. Those of you who enter juried shows know that you usually have to submit three pictures of your work and one of your booth. Sounds easy enough, but it's far from it. You can't just take a shot of your booth at a show. Your booth doesn't even necessarily have to be set up in the same layout as a show. At a show, you set your booth up for the flow of traffic through your booth. Here you are setting it up so the jury can see it.
If you are reading this as a novice, first of all let me say your tent/canopy must be white. Most people go to Walmart and buy a cheap one for their first craft show. They're always some color other than white. Soon after they always end up having to replace them because almost all art shows require white canopies. Last fall I happened to score some used Flourish mesh panels for my EZ Up. (EZ Up gets a bad rap sometimes, but my EZ Up has held up where other, more expensive tents have not.) These panels not only help stabilize the tent, but you can also hang things from them.
Since I have some jury photo deadlines coming up at the end of the month, I have been watching the weather closely. It has been really cold, and we have had snow on the ground. Yesterday was my big chance. My husband, who is the muscle, starting setting up my EZ Up in the morning, and I put in the floor and the display cases. He had set it up in the driveway, with the door facing the house. Actually a pretty good idea, I thought, because it's much more secure when I set all the jewelry out.
What I failed to consider was the location of the sun. Actually it wasn't that I didn't consider it, I just thought it wouldn't matter inside the tent. I was wrong. It was supposed to be cloudy, but by the time we were set up, the occasional cloud that came by was higher in the sky than the sun was. Up north in the winter, the sun is low in the sky to the south from sunrise to sunset. Our driveway pretty much faces south, which means the back of my tent was to the sun. I never realized that the tent does not really block out the sun. Here is my first shot:
Ok, this looks awful. I know it. And it looks even worse in the photo than it does in real life! You can't see it, but I am shooting right into the sun. Would you go into this booth? Probably not. By the way, this is also the spare EZ Up that came with the sides. It isn't as clean as my regular one, and you will notice that when it is fully up, the side walls don't reach the ground. That's ok, because I can fix that in photoshop.
We have only two of the Flourish panels up, in the rear and the right hand side. I was planning on hanging a couple of displays on the panels, but once I saw the size of the holes I knew it wasn't going to work. That's ok, I have a plan B, but it wasn't going to be ready before the end of the day. No big deal. This is why you always set things up before you use them, so you don't get any surprises on show day!
My next step was to upload the picture online and get some advice from some other jewelry artists. Based on their advice, we moved the display cases so they were staged for the picture. They also suggested I add a rug. Now I have seen these big rugs, and I have no intention of hauling one of those around. My husband said he knew of a rug that had just been sitting around in the basement, rolled up since we moved (years ago.) So we added it.
After we got the feedback and made the changes, the sun was beginning to go down, and the lighting totally changed. My DSLR camera was on a tripod, and I put it on a self timer so that there will be no motion from me clicking the shutter button. That way it can do a long exposure if it needs to. Here is the last picture I took before editing:
The improvement is amazing. All we did was rearrange the cases and add the rug. But the lighting is also a huge improvement. I love how the rug adds some color, and it's small enough that I can take it to shows. By the time we got this done the light was fading fast, so this one will have to do. Here is the final image after cropping and editing:
That is a booth I would go into! Before next year I hope to add some sheer curtains in the corners to hide the poles, and three large jewelry photos across the back of the booth. For now it will have to do. But we certainly hit the "sweet spot" in the weather because today, as you can see, we got more snow:
For those of you contemplating your own booth shot, I will leave you with a link to Larry Berman's article on the subject: http://bermangraphics.com/artshows/photograph-booth.htm