Art Fair Photo Policies

Art Fair Photo Policies –

As an artist, what are your thoughts on people taking photos of your work?  Are you all for someone taking photos of your work?  Or are you firmly against having anyone take photos of your work.  Do you post signs in your booth not to take photos?  Do you ask potential customers to not take pictures?  If you do, what are your reasons for your no photo policy?

There is certainly an understanding that you want to protect your creative property.  That you don’t want someone to take a photo of your photography to keep them from purchasing the original photo from you.  You may even be concerned the person taking the photograph will copy your work and create if for themselves.

However, scrolling through social media, you also see the flip side of this.  Some photographers give you the behind the scenes through videos of how they do their work.  Ceramic artists post videos of themselves at the wheel.  Or time-lapse photos of an artist creating a painting over days/weeks.

Some creatives are worried about the theft of their work which took them years/decades to develop.  Others, welcome people into their process and they share photos on social media.

There is no right or wrong answer, just a policy which works best for you and your business. 

Two different creators, two different shows, two different policies.

Earlier this fall, I was at a local art fair.  I went shopping for a small gift for my daughter.  However, I found a beautiful wood and metal table which would be perfect in our entry hallway.  I didn’t come prepared to spend them money on the table, nor did I have a way to get it home,  but it was stunning, unique and utterly something I would love to own.  It was also more money than I would spend without my husband’s opinion.

The artist approached me and told me to take a picture for my husband to see it.  I was surprised, because so many artists don’t want photographs of unique work.  But I took the photo, as well as a photo of the artists information.  I didn’t purchase that day, but I see that table, or something similar by this creator in my house in the next year.

A second fair, a second artist, a conversation overheard.  A potential customer was using her phone to take photos of ceramic pieces.  The artist came up to her and told her she wasn’t crazy about photos being taken of her work.  The customer explained she was sending the photos to her daughter to see which item she liked better.  The customer asked her why she didn’t want the photos to be taken and she said it was her work and she wanted to protect it.  The woman walked away without purchasing anything.

In both cases, the artist didn’t make a sale that day.  One welcomed photos the other did not.  However, the first artist will make a sale in the future, the second may have lost the customer.  Of course, maybe the second person wouldn’t have purchased regardless of the conversation with the artist.

How do you protect your artistic view, while not offending customers?

There is no perfect way to manage the proliferation of photography when you are at a fair selling.   Maybe you decide on a case by case basis.  Maybe it is always yes take photos or no don’t,  Maybe it is take it and here is my instagram handle so they can tag you.  You never know where a potential customer will find your work.

In the comments below, share your art fair photo policies and why you have it.

Remember to  keep it positive with both the comments and the replies.

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