Wait! Don’t change the channel yet!
We promise you that business cards don’t have to be stuffy, expensive or soul-crushingly dull, especially photographers’ cards.
In fact, your cards should be more creative than anybody’s, especially when the economy’s gone all pear-shaped. An artistic card will make people remember you/ think you’re awesome/ give you money.
Want proof? OK! We’ve found 12 smart, well-designed cards that deserve a place of honor in any art buyer’s contact list.
Photo credit: dailypoetics
Why You Need a Good Business Card
Have you ever bought a book because you really liked the cover? Your business card is exactly like that: itâ€™s the first impression people have of you as a photographer. ClichÃ©, yes, but true. A great-looking card makes people think you’re smart, have great taste, and must therefore be a fantastic photographer.
Know your market: When designing your business cards, think about the people you want to hire you: If youâ€™re selling prints on Etsy, a handmade aesthetic will go a long way. If youâ€™re hoping GQ will send you on assignment, you should go for a more sophisticated, polished look.
Image: If you want a photo on your business card, choose an iconic image that really represents your style. However, you must be prepared to be completely sick of that picture by the time the cards run out.
Nothing says photographers have to have photos on their cards, though. If your work has a characteristic color palette, choose one or several of those colors and use them instead of a photo. That way if you decide to overhaul your portfolio with all-new photos, you won’t get stuck with an old picture on your business cards.
Lettering: The font on your cards may seem like a trivial detail, but art buyers and photo editors really pay attention to it. Make it simple and easy to read.
Time-tested, classic fonts make you seem more design-savvy (even if you only have the ones that came installed on your computer). When in doubt, use Helvetica. Times is also your friend. Comic Sans, Impact and Courier are your mortal enemies and should never ever be used. Ever.
Inspiration: We’ve rounded up a dozen cards that we really like. Don’t plagiarize ‘em or anything, but use them as inspiration when you’re designing your own.
A great concept with a simple, elegant execution will make you the darling of art buyers and designers everywhere.
One tiny hole punched in the card can be a camera aperture, a pinhole, or just a new way of looking at things.
Another good concept with a simple solution: a portrait on the front of the card, and the back of somebody’s head on the back. After all, a card’s got two sides: use them well.
3. Hidden Meaning
This is a smart alternative to featuring a photo on your business card. It’s a portrait of the card-holder reduced to 1 dpi dots. Not so good for color-blind people, though.
4. Alternative Pictures
If your portfolio changes frequently and you don’t want the photo on your card to become outdated, use a picture of yourself as a kid instead. (‘Cause you’re always in style, hotcakes.)
5. Special Materials
The material your card is made from can help it stand out in a pile of other cards. An x-ray like this would be great for a medical or forensic photographer, but a simple transparency would work for the rest of us.
You could make these yourself with inkjet-printable transparencies and a good quality printer. The extra thought and special materials you put into it will keep it from being dismissed as amateur.
6. Urban DIY
To be taken seriously, a homemade card has to show that it’s made that way on purpose. Unusual materials & details work. Those perforated office-supply sheets do not.
A card like this (a label slapped on a discarded transit pass) would be perfect for an urban fashion photographer or underground photojournalist.
7. Crafty Details
The sewn-on details and brown paper make this another good deliberately-handmade card. This would be a good fit for somebody selling prints on Etsy or other craft-oriented places.
Die-cut cards have to be really good to be worth the expense. A pop-up portrait of yourself guarantees that people will remember you.
9. Odd Size
Don’t make your card larger than the standard size though. It won’t fit in a business card holder, but it will fit nicely in the garbage can.
This is a pretty smart way to make your card unusual while staying within the size limits of the card case. This card shows a logo and contact info at first glance, but opens up to reveal a photo.
Custom-printed cards like this could get expensive, but the extra thought and effort it shows would probably justify making them yourself.
11. Multiple Photos
A diverse portfolio (no stock jokes, please) can be hard to represent with just one photo. Get cards with several different photos so you’ve got plenty to choose from. (Moo lets you choose up to 100 photos to put on your cards!)
A stapled mini-booklet could easily be transformed into a miniature portfolio. Stapling three cards together (printed on both sides) would give you a front & back cover, plus four pages of photos.
Though time-consuming to make, these let you show a wider sample of your work, and people will definitely remember them.
Getting a Card Designed
If you don’t have good design skills, bribe a graphic designer or hire somebody like NBCreative to design a card for you.
Pros: Looks professional and you can get a large batch printed at one time.
Cons: Can be expensive (especially if you get special die-cuts, inks or materials). Factor in time for production and shipping, and be sure to get a test proof before finalizing your order.
Making Your Own Cards
If you have some design training and know what you want, you can design your own business cards in Photoshop, Illustrator or Quark.
If you decide to print your cards at home, craftsmanship and quality must be paramount. Use a high-quality printer, good heavy paper and a paper-trimmer. Uneven edges, fingerprints or flimsy paper will make people think you’re careless or unprofessional.
Adding handmade touches like stitching, textured paper, or special folds will show people that you put special effort into your cards and didn’t just make them at home to save money.
Pros: Less expensive and easy to make on short notice (like the night before a show).
Cons: Too time-consuming to make large batches and needs special attention to detail and materials.
Want More Ideas?
These 12 cards are a mere taste of the vast range of card designs. If you want more ideas, try some of these: