Branding Your Photography Business - Part 2: Business Cards - Digital Photography School

Branding Your Photography Business – Part 2: Business Cards

Part two in this four-part branding your photography business primer takes a look at photographers’ business cards. You can find part one here.

You’d be hard pressed to find a functional business without a business card – no matter what industry. Photographers are no exception – and in fact their business cards get much more creative than most industries. Different sizes, shapes, tabs or holes and of course lots and lots of images. What goes into a business card and what you should think about if you’re designing it yourself can really help solidify your branding style. Here are a few things to consider for your next round of business cards.

Can I Find You?

The ultimate purpose of a business card is to leave someone with your contact information and usually direct them to your website. Always keep that at the top of your head. Your business card is an action step. If a client doesn’t know where to go next from it, you’ve probably lost any business that might have come in from handing it out.

Keep your information clearly organized on your card. Make sure your name, number, e-mail and website are on there. If you’re going for that ultra-minimalistic look, at least make sure the one piece of info you do put on the card is a link to the rest of your contact info. Again, remember that your card should be an action step to reach out to you.

My general recommendation is to keep all your contact information on one side of your card. I’ve seen a few people who opt to put their website on one side, and additional contact info on the other. You’d be surprised how many people don’t think to simply flip your card to the other side.

Representing Your Visual Style

Like any other piece of your branding, your business cards should work with your images, not against them. Nothing will throw your clients off more than an edgy, fashionable card and fun-filled images on your site. What you’re saying to them is that you don’t really know what you’re trying to evoke with your style, you just happen to be taking some nice shots here and there. Fonts, colors, card shapes and designs can all add to or subtract from your brand. Designer be wary!

You can try making your own business cards, or working with a designer to help put together a few options for you. That’s exactly what I did when I worked with the crew at The James Agency again. I knew I wanted something fun that captured my lifestyle and travel work. Together we came up with the idea for luggage tags and put the rest of the pieces together. Today, it still gets wows every time I hand it out to a new client. That’s exactly the effect you want with your business cards – just make sure your images back up that wow factor!

Photos on the Back

As photographers, we’re obviously in the image business.  The biggest question most photographers often have is whether to include photos on the back of their cards or not. It’s a very subjective question, but here are a few things to consider.

A back of the card image shows someone immediately what it is that you do. Definitely place a lot of thought into what image you put on there – because it’s going to have to represent your entire body of work and create an actionable impression. Ask yourself, “would I want to see more based on this image?” If the answer is no, don’t even think about putting that on the back of your business card. You can also consider putting a different image on 4-6 cards, giving you a variety of work. This mini collection usually looks great together, but don’t put any image on there you wouldn’t feel comfortable standing alone to represent your work. Thin the herd to the best of the best of the best.

From moo.com

The downside to images on your card can be a negative client impression. What if a client really likes your entire body of work, but they just don’t like that image you chose for your business card? Chances are you’ll never know because they might not bother to look at the rest of your work if they don’t like that one image. They weren’t inspired to see more. The other downside can come when you’re starting out and getting better with every shoot. You may print a round of 200 cards, hand out 50-100 of them and then a month or few months later hate having to hand out old images that no longer represent your work. It happens a lot! Think carefully if your work is ready to last as long as those cards will – or if you don’t mind tossing them out and spending money on new ones.

Saving as Vector PDF

If you’re designing your own business cards, one of the biggest factors in quality can come down to how you save those files. Nothing is worse then thinking you have a cool design, uploading a jpg to the printer, and receiving back grainy text files. To prevent this, you’ll want to save your files as vector-based PDFs. This will hold the resolution of text based files when sent to your printer. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds.

First, find out the dimensions of the card you’ll be printing to and create that size file to work on in Photoshop. Make sure you check with your printer about any trim margins so that you don’t cut off any important texts. As a rule, try not to put anything too close to the edges anyways. Ensure you don’t rasterize any of the layers then save the file as a Photoshop PDF – that’s a .PDF or .PDP file extension. Below you will see a box that says “Include Vector Data” and “Embed Fonts.” Check both of these. Voila! Now it’s ready to send to your printer and maintain your text resolution.

Where to Print

There are countless numbers of printers across the globe. Where you go depends on your budget, the style you want and paper quality. If you’re running on a shoestring budget, the cheapest printer will probably be a local Kinko’s (FedEx Office) or other mass market budget printer.

There are also a lot of options to upload online to printers and have your cards shipped to you. One that has been especially popular amongst photographers is moo.com because of their thick quality, ability to print multiple images and mini cards.

Consider working with and endorsing a local printer as well – as long as you get the quality you want. Helping your local market is always a plus and continues to keep businesses running in your community.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be on to better branded business cards.

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Matt Dutile is a New York City based travel and lifestyle photographer. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a book on Mongolian nomads. Check the page out to learn more. You can view his website or join in on his Facebook page as well.

  • javan

    And…it should go without saying that you DO NOT USE other photographers’ images on your business cards. Two local photographers both used images on their cards that didn’t look like anything I had seen in their studios and when I asked them about it they both confided in me that they had found the picture on the Internet. The one lady said, “I just thought it was such a cool picture and I knew I could never take a shot like that.” I would stay away from clip art and readymade designs, too. Several of the auto repair places here in town have managed to use the same Vistaprint layout and so it is difficult to tell them apart.

  • http://www.mattdutile.com Matt Dutile

    I never even considered a photographer would use someone elses images on their biz card. That just seems ridiculous.

  • http://www.kerstenbeck.com Erik Kerstenbeck

    Hi

    I would not consider putting images on a Business Card other than the Business Logo. The reason is that we are continuously updating our portfolio. It would seem somewhat silly to mix a Boudoir picture like this one, with a shot from Yosemite in the Spring!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/boudoir-part-4-implied-nude/

  • http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/ My Camera World

    Printing your own business cards, while not cost effective if your printing in the thousands, does allow you to custom make unique cards that people may collect.

    I try and make them interesting enough that persons may decide to keep them at a minimum as a book marker, if there is no immediate take up for services.

    Here an article on creating your own from your favorite photos.

    http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/2008/12/printing-your-own-business-cards-and.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradstillwellphotography brad stillwell photography

    I laid out a design in Photoshop and had PLASTIC cards made. They really grab attention when I hand them out.

  • Trevon

    I use custom transparent plastic cards with a white strip in the middle lengthwise and on the front I have my logo and on the back I have my website, phone number, and name.

  • http://existing-light.blogspot.com Mario

    I got 50 photocards from Moo for about $23 through an offer with my new account at About.me. At first glance, that seems steep, but they’re actually double-sided and made of thin plastic, so the photo on the front (back?) renders quite nicely. Moo also lets you put a variety of photos in your order. They were fast–I highly recommend them.

  • http://www.glitterbirdphotography.com Tammy

    I’ve purchased moo mini cards for weddings that I shoot. I hand out the moo cards at the reception. I put the wedding gallery info on the front, and a photo from the bridal session or engagement session on the back. This is a great way to advertise your website as folks from the wedding want to go check out the wedding photos. It also makes a nice little souvenir from the wedding. I think I got 100 cards for $20 plus shipping.

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    I think you definitely should put an image on your business card. I have and it makes a big impact and really, really makes your business card stand out. I used Moo awhile ago but their prices and delivery times are equally outrageous.

    For the past 2 years I have used my own design and printed through WHCC on pearl paper with laminate coating on both sides ($12 for 50 delivered in 2 business days with a lollipop) and again, always, always get compliments on my cards.

    I posted a sample of the front and back of my card as it currently exists:

    http://www.jasoncollin.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11-NOV/business-card-sample-jason-collin.jpg

  • http://ChrisAdval.com ChrisAdval

    GotPrint.net I feel is best prices and services…

  • Daniel Mollino

    You know, I see where this article is from. I personally have 4 photos on the front of the card and a white back.

    Now I must point out, I used to work in the print industry, and I design products for print. As for the cheapest place to get your custom card and a good quality is Vistaprint. The key however is to make your own layout in In-design and pdf it and upload. Then pick your extras (thick paper , gloss or mat, ect). Also search online coupons for Vistaprint you can usually get 500 premium (as in no vista print logo on back) for about 2 – 5 bucks.

    The preset layouts are good for other jobs but as a photographer, and in my case designer also, you should portray that on your card.

    Other good place, Print Pelican, ; Otherwise your local print shop or or kinkos ect work. However private shops will charge big $$ and you will be ordering minimum 500 cards. Kinkos and such , if they are not laser based prints (happens a lot) press prints will also cost more. (Also the laser based prints are OK but be aware you will have a semi bulls-eye screening in any solids and even loss of detail in the photos. (this occurs on press also but is a lot finer than laser) )

  • http://www.marwac.com Markus Wachter

    Im not a professional but for my hobby-photography I ordered some Moo Cards which allow you to put lots of different images on the back.
    So I put some of my most popular flickr pics there and I am quite happy with the outcome.

    http://www.marwac.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:moo-mini-cards&catid=40:photo-stuff&Itemid=59

  • John Deir

    Questions for everyone
    1- what about CD-business cards? are they worth it?
    2- How do you use a QR code on your B-card?
    3- is your logo your branding image or do you use your name?
    Thanks as I’m considering how I’m going to approach this.

  • http://redhunttravel.com Red Hunt

    I just ordered some test Moo cards to see how my custom design turns out. I agree they are not the cheapest but the quality is solid as I know others who use them. I would avoid CD cards. They were cool in the 1990s, they’re a waste of time now. If you want something digital, create a business card that is a USB drive. I have one from Google, the USB part is the size of a thumbnail and ‘flips’ out the end of the card.

  • http://www.smileseoul.com Warren Coskey

    Questions for everyone
    1- what about CD-business cards? are they worth it?

    I don’t think so. I made some CD cards for clients but I found they are VERY expensive and also difficult to carry around for the client. When they are handed out the amount of people who actually go through the effort of looking at them is low.

    2- How do you use a QR code on your B-card?

    Do a Google search for QR code creator. Many free online ones. Make sure the one you use can create URL versions, email versions etc. then put in your info and down load it. Download the vector if possible otherwise use a GIF or PNG. JPEG as a last resort.

    3- is your logo your branding image or do you use your name?

    Both but not always together at the same time:)

    Thanks as I’m considering how I’m going to approach this.

  • Cat Walker

    I think including an image is important, especially in the beginning! I started my business just this year so my name and my work aren’t really well-known. Having an image on my business cards gives prospective clients an idea of my style! I have only chosen the best of the best, and images that are very representative of my style in each category – maternity, family, babies, engagements, bridal, weddings. A picture, an image, is memorable, so I feel like when I hand out my cards with an image on it, people will remember ME better!

    When I prepare my clients’ order (even if its just a CD) I include about 4 business cards, and I use the ones with images related to what their session is: if it was a maternity session, I give a couple of maternity cards and also a couple of newborn cards. For engagements, I give both engagements and bridals. I have had people book me again for those future sessions! And I have had inquiries from people who received my card from a friend.

    I have also used the Moo Mini-cards and LOVE them, and I always get comments on how cool the size and quality is. I have an image on one side with my name, logo and info on the back. I love them (for now!). Maybe once I’m better known (some day…) I will not use an image but for now, I think it is really helping to spread my style :)

  • http://www.jpgprinting.com/ JPG Printing

    Thanks for the post! I don’t think CD business cards are a good idea these times. Nobody use cd’s no more.

Some older comments

  • Cat Walker

    November 29, 2011 05:50 am

    I think including an image is important, especially in the beginning! I started my business just this year so my name and my work aren't really well-known. Having an image on my business cards gives prospective clients an idea of my style! I have only chosen the best of the best, and images that are very representative of my style in each category - maternity, family, babies, engagements, bridal, weddings. A picture, an image, is memorable, so I feel like when I hand out my cards with an image on it, people will remember ME better!

    When I prepare my clients' order (even if its just a CD) I include about 4 business cards, and I use the ones with images related to what their session is: if it was a maternity session, I give a couple of maternity cards and also a couple of newborn cards. For engagements, I give both engagements and bridals. I have had people book me again for those future sessions! And I have had inquiries from people who received my card from a friend.

    I have also used the Moo Mini-cards and LOVE them, and I always get comments on how cool the size and quality is. I have an image on one side with my name, logo and info on the back. I love them (for now!). Maybe once I'm better known (some day...) I will not use an image but for now, I think it is really helping to spread my style :)

  • Warren Coskey

    November 24, 2011 05:03 pm

    Questions for everyone
    1- what about CD-business cards? are they worth it?

    I don't think so. I made some CD cards for clients but I found they are VERY expensive and also difficult to carry around for the client. When they are handed out the amount of people who actually go through the effort of looking at them is low.

    2- How do you use a QR code on your B-card?

    Do a Google search for QR code creator. Many free online ones. Make sure the one you use can create URL versions, email versions etc. then put in your info and down load it. Download the vector if possible otherwise use a GIF or PNG. JPEG as a last resort.

    3- is your logo your branding image or do you use your name?

    Both but not always together at the same time:)

    Thanks as I’m considering how I’m going to approach this.

  • Red Hunt

    November 24, 2011 12:46 pm

    I just ordered some test Moo cards to see how my custom design turns out. I agree they are not the cheapest but the quality is solid as I know others who use them. I would avoid CD cards. They were cool in the 1990s, they're a waste of time now. If you want something digital, create a business card that is a USB drive. I have one from Google, the USB part is the size of a thumbnail and 'flips' out the end of the card.

  • John Deir

    November 22, 2011 01:36 am

    Questions for everyone
    1- what about CD-business cards? are they worth it?
    2- How do you use a QR code on your B-card?
    3- is your logo your branding image or do you use your name?
    Thanks as I'm considering how I'm going to approach this.

  • Markus Wachter

    November 21, 2011 03:45 am

    Im not a professional but for my hobby-photography I ordered some Moo Cards which allow you to put lots of different images on the back.
    So I put some of my most popular flickr pics there and I am quite happy with the outcome.

    http://www.marwac.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:moo-mini-cards&catid=40:photo-stuff&Itemid=59

  • Daniel Mollino

    November 20, 2011 06:56 am

    You know, I see where this article is from. I personally have 4 photos on the front of the card and a white back.

    Now I must point out, I used to work in the print industry, and I design products for print. As for the cheapest place to get your custom card and a good quality is Vistaprint. The key however is to make your own layout in In-design and pdf it and upload. Then pick your extras (thick paper , gloss or mat, ect). Also search online coupons for Vistaprint you can usually get 500 premium (as in no vista print logo on back) for about 2 - 5 bucks.

    The preset layouts are good for other jobs but as a photographer, and in my case designer also, you should portray that on your card.

    Other good place, Print Pelican, ; Otherwise your local print shop or or kinkos ect work. However private shops will charge big $$ and you will be ordering minimum 500 cards. Kinkos and such , if they are not laser based prints (happens a lot) press prints will also cost more. (Also the laser based prints are OK but be aware you will have a semi bulls-eye screening in any solids and even loss of detail in the photos. (this occurs on press also but is a lot finer than laser) )

  • ChrisAdval

    November 19, 2011 04:52 pm

    GotPrint.net I feel is best prices and services...

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    November 19, 2011 12:11 pm

    I think you definitely should put an image on your business card. I have and it makes a big impact and really, really makes your business card stand out. I used Moo awhile ago but their prices and delivery times are equally outrageous.

    For the past 2 years I have used my own design and printed through WHCC on pearl paper with laminate coating on both sides ($12 for 50 delivered in 2 business days with a lollipop) and again, always, always get compliments on my cards.

    I posted a sample of the front and back of my card as it currently exists:

    http://www.jasoncollin.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11-NOV/business-card-sample-jason-collin.jpg

  • Tammy

    November 19, 2011 05:51 am

    I've purchased moo mini cards for weddings that I shoot. I hand out the moo cards at the reception. I put the wedding gallery info on the front, and a photo from the bridal session or engagement session on the back. This is a great way to advertise your website as folks from the wedding want to go check out the wedding photos. It also makes a nice little souvenir from the wedding. I think I got 100 cards for $20 plus shipping.

  • Mario

    November 19, 2011 05:18 am

    I got 50 photocards from Moo for about $23 through an offer with my new account at About.me. At first glance, that seems steep, but they're actually double-sided and made of thin plastic, so the photo on the front (back?) renders quite nicely. Moo also lets you put a variety of photos in your order. They were fast--I highly recommend them.

  • Trevon

    November 19, 2011 05:17 am

    I use custom transparent plastic cards with a white strip in the middle lengthwise and on the front I have my logo and on the back I have my website, phone number, and name.

  • brad stillwell photography

    November 19, 2011 04:26 am

    I laid out a design in Photoshop and had PLASTIC cards made. They really grab attention when I hand them out.

  • My Camera World

    November 19, 2011 03:06 am

    Printing your own business cards, while not cost effective if your printing in the thousands, does allow you to custom make unique cards that people may collect.

    I try and make them interesting enough that persons may decide to keep them at a minimum as a book marker, if there is no immediate take up for services.

    Here an article on creating your own from your favorite photos.

    http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/2008/12/printing-your-own-business-cards-and.html

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    November 19, 2011 02:58 am

    Hi

    I would not consider putting images on a Business Card other than the Business Logo. The reason is that we are continuously updating our portfolio. It would seem somewhat silly to mix a Boudoir picture like this one, with a shot from Yosemite in the Spring!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/boudoir-part-4-implied-nude/

  • Matt Dutile

    November 19, 2011 02:23 am

    I never even considered a photographer would use someone elses images on their biz card. That just seems ridiculous.

  • javan

    November 19, 2011 02:09 am

    And...it should go without saying that you DO NOT USE other photographers' images on your business cards. Two local photographers both used images on their cards that didn't look like anything I had seen in their studios and when I asked them about it they both confided in me that they had found the picture on the Internet. The one lady said, "I just thought it was such a cool picture and I knew I could never take a shot like that." I would stay away from clip art and readymade designs, too. Several of the auto repair places here in town have managed to use the same Vistaprint layout and so it is difficult to tell them apart.

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