Archive for September 7th, 2010

Last month, I had the great pleasure of meeting and working with the amazing photographer, Kenny Kim. Kenny is a consummate professional, constantly  traveling to weddings all over the world (last month in Italy, lucky guy), giving workshops, and he has even written a book, The Wedding Photographer’s Planner. Avidly followed on Twitter by over 3200 fans, his work speaks for itself, even here in the photos he shot of the letterpress printed business cards we made for him here at Studio Z Mendocino.

I found his blog post on this subject so pertinent that i asked him if it would be OK to re-post his words here. I agree with his assessment of the importance and power inherent in having a card that artfully represents your work. Kenny’s clean cut KK logo, which he designed himself, speaks strongly, even with the understated white-on-white color pallette. The spark of deep red in the centered lens/yin-yang symbol is reiterated in the flash of red edge painting, and in the information printed on the back. Six hundred gram Cranes Lettra paper gives even more weight to these gorgeous and graceful pieces of art that, according to Kenny, never fail to elicit an interested, astonished response.

Here are Kenny’s own words on the subject:

Importance of having a good business card

Business cards these days seem irrelevant due to the electronic information era. However, as photographers, we ought to be constantly networking with new people every day, in person. And when networking, it is important to have a business card to pass along your information to potential clients and/or people that might refer you work in the future.

In my home, I have a big glass jar that is about to spill out with hundreds, if not thousands, of business cards I’ve collected over the past few years (mainly from photographers). I kept all of them because one day I wanted to talk about how important it is to have a good business card. I have seen some well-designed cards and I have seen some that made me ask myself: “What were they thinking when they made these cards?!” Having been a graphic designer in my previous occupation I have learned a thing or two about organizing information and have created some corporate identity materials for various clients. Having said that, I wanted to take this time to share some tips for having a good business card.

1) “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Have you bought a book because you liked a way the cover looked? How often do we make perceived judgements on people we meet based on how they dress? This is exactly the same for photographers and your business cards. Your business card is the first impression people have of you as a photographer. A well-designed card makes people think you are professional, increases your perceived value, and make them think that you are a darn good photographer.

2) Include necessary contact information such as name, email address, website and a phone number. I have seen so many cards that did not have either email or phone number. I asked several photographers what their reasoning behind this was and their reply was: “they can come to my website to get the other information.” This is true, but why add another step/obstacle to their contacting you? By the same token, do not oversaturate your card with information.

3) Being a specialist does not mean you are good at portraits, weddings, commercial & sports. Stick to one thing and mention that on your card if you wish to. You cannot be a specialist in everything. Just because you can do it does not mean you have to mention it. If possible, have separate cards for different things you specialize in.

4) Avoid “do-it-yourself, home-printed business cards”. Again invest some money and get some quality cards. Your perceived value will depend on how nice your cards are. Why ruin it by trying to save money by either doing it yourself and/or use those inexpensive services that are out in the market? People may not tell you this in person, but when they get a poorly designed or inexpensive cards, they already have a preconceived value about your photography and your business.

5) Make them unique. You are, after all, one of a kind. Rather than using a predesigned template card, have one professionally designed that represents your photography. There are many ways to make them unique (die cut, sewn, letterpress, foil stamping, etc.) Work with a professional designer to get this done.

6) Never apologize for the card that you have. Your cards represent who you are and you should be proud of it. I have received numerous cards, and as people are handing them to me, they are automatically apologizing to me because of the quality, not up-to-date information, etc. Be confident and proud of your cards when you hand them out.

7) As important as it is to exchange cards, more importantly, it is essential to follow up with the people you exchanged cards with. Rather than letting it go to waste, enter their contact information in an address book. Then shortly after, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity to meet. It will go long way.

Finally, I am proud to share my new business cards with everyone. These were beautifully designed by Studio Z Mendocino out of California. My photographer friend Patty Hildebrand gave me a card that really stood out. I then had to ask her for the contact information for who designed her cards. So big thanks to Patty for introducing me to Studio-Z!

One of the first things people ask when they send an inquiry to me is, “How much do letterpress business cards cost?” It’s a worthy question, but actually probably not as important as, “What will they do for my business?” While it is true that cards like Kenny Kim’s are not inexpensive, the impact they can have on one’s business is worth the investment, in spades. If you spend $1 or even $2 a piece on business cards ($1000 to $2000 for 1000 cards is the commonest ballpark figure), which, honestly, you can do, keep in mind that you are probably not paying for renting a studio, and probably not spending much on advertising, per se. The $1 or $2 you might have spent to get a $2500 or $5000 (or more) wedding shoot might be the least expensive advertising you will ever see. And I have been told by many of my clients that their business cards DO get them work.

Great business cards make the difference that sets you apart from others who are bidding on a job.

I should just say, to answer that question, you should plan on budgeting $1200 or so for 1000 cards letterpress printed on Cranes Lettra 600 gram, without edge painting. You should plan on budgeting $1500 to $1800 for edge painted cards. If you need branding and design work, you should plan on another $2000+ fee, depending on the house that works up your design. (That said, I should also say that pricing depends on many variables, and we can certainly do cards that are not in this price range. We can play with materials, paper, number of colors, and cards we do can come in at a much lower price, as well. But for the premium, thickest, most over the top cards, this is the true ballpark.)

The main question is, Are they worth the cost? The main answer to that is: How do you want your card to represent you? I always have to say, yes, it is worth it, for sure.

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