Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals


This may sound like a stupid question (total newbie here), but what do you do when people try to photograph your work in your booth?  I participated in my first "supposedly" juried art fair last weekend, (which wasn't really juried, and lame, but that is probably for another thread) and several people took pictures of my work with their cell phones.  I asked the one guy who did it why he was photographing my work and he said he wanted to put it on his blog.  I didn't know what to think.  What do you ya'll tell people to do when this happens?

Views: 2207

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Post a sign in your booth- NO PHOTOS Please. Stop people from taking photos of your work. Your is YOUR work. No one else should be posting it in any blogs, on any webpages. It is YOUR work. If someone complains, tough. It is yours.

Tell them it's copyrighted, patented, protected- whatever, but stop others from photographing your work. If they like it they can purchase.


Tell all of the schmucks that your work is copyrighted or trademarked and that by photographing your work, especially if they publish it (a blog is publishing), they are violating the law and may be sued.  I'm coming down hard on this, but most of those people don't know the law, they just want to copy your work, for whatever reasons.  Be strict about this or they'll just laugh in your face.  If necessary, step in front of their camera/cell phone and block the view of your work.

We've had at length discussions on AFI about photographing artists' work/booths and the consensus seems to be that hanging a NO PHOTOS sign in your booth can turn a lot of people off, kind of like hanging a NO SMOKING sign in your booth.  It could be construed as a bit of overkill.

But - make sure you ask them first why are they doing this.  Sometimes an art show will have a photographer shoot the booths, either for advertising and/or for making sure your booth matches the juried booth image.  However, almost all shows make sure that the photographer announces his/her presence and says that they're with the show.  Smile and let them at it!

But then there are the people who might be unsure if they want a piece of your artwork and want to take a picture of it to show their spouse/partner and they'll get back to you later.  This is a tough call.  I've made good sales from these quick snaps and I've had people who've also said something like that so that they can just steal an image.  Go with your gut on this, maybe get their phone/cell # and contact them later in the weekend to see if they've considered the piece.

Just keep a smile on your face and the sun behind your eyes and things will be OK.  Plus a good drink after the show is over for the day.  Let Nels be your mentor on all things relaxing and unwinding!

I don't let people photograph my work, but I try to be nice to people. If they are photographing your work without your permission, it usually means they like your work and do not understand what they are doing is wrong. I will stop people and ask them why they want to get a photo. If they have a blog or something similar, I may let them take a booth shot if they asked permission first, but I never let them square up on a piece. If they say they want to show the pic of a piece to a spouse, I will try to get an email address; and then send them a watermarked jpeg. The usual response is "I just like the painting", then I ask them to support my work by purchasing a piece, I tell them even a small print for $15 would be supporting my art and my career, but snapping a picture gives them my product for free.
I appreciate the response.  Prints are next in line, and trying to sell a print to them instead makes a lot of sense.  Cute pic by the way, congratulations!

the photo they take is copyrighted as well.  it may even be legitimate new work as a derivative.  if it's on a blog it may be protected speech because it's newsworthy


basically it comes down to this-

you brought your work to a public location.  there's not much more you can do than to ask not to.


there's no not letting someone take photos.  you ask politely and you let.  photography is protected under the first amendment as a form of expression.  it's so well covered one of the only federal laws mentioning photography explicitly allows photography in the situation.  this law also mentions the word "copyright"


as has been mentioned, couple the photo with a business card.  don't alienate someone instead


oh, and I have several hundred photos of art booths.  most artists don't care

Your right, when it comes to someone photographing you, your booth or your work as part of the scene, as long as it is in a public place. I don't think the photographer has the same right to zoom in on one of your pieces and and make a digital replica.
The first time or two this happened to me I was too shocked to say anything!  When it happens now, I usually go up close and ask if I can help them.  They have always been embarrassed and said "no" and walked away!
I will not let anyone photograph my art at a booth with a phone camera or anyother camera. I have heard it all. They want to show a friend, they want someone to see it for an opinion, its pretty, I like it, blablabla.  I tell them if you like it enough you may buy it to enjoy for $_____!!! And I say "no photos please" if I see someone walking in the booth with a camera. When I  caught someone in the act of shooting a picture, I ask them to DELETE IT! because they know just by looking at my face, Im pissed off. I demand to see what they did and TELL them to delete because....... So you do what ya gotta do to protect your copyright.  There was a fellow walking around an art show with a fairly large camera. He stood across the way and photographed others artworks without you knowing it at all. One artist discovered her art with someone elses signature attached to the print for sale at a shop!! SO please make you statement very clear when people come around with a camera.
The rudest of the rude was a man who was sketching on of my abstracts a few weeks ago.  I asked him to please stop and give me the sketch...which he refused to do...explaining that he was a woodturner and wanted to copy my work...what an ass.  Go figure.

Wow, almost missed this discussion, but have to get my two cents worth in.  Call me an optimist, but I like the few comments in this topic that remained positive.

Be positive!  We have a two day window, (a few that are three) to interact with a group of people.  I say don't put up roadblocks.  If someone wants to take a picture of my work, I say please do!

I like Micheal's comment to make sure and get their phone number for follow up.  Also suggest if they really want a photo that they should also sign up for my newsletter.

We almost all have work up on a website somewhere, and if someone is really out to copy, then it's even easier there, so a photo at an art fair is really a moot point.

And my last point:  keep your work new and fresh and innovative and just plan on staying ahead of the copiers.



It can be delicate. The first time I saw someone shooting a picture of my work with a cell phone, I was worried but didn’t know what to do. She said, “I’m sending this picture to my daughter; she’d like these earrings.” I didn’t know whether to believe her or not. The next day she, the daughter, and friends showed up in my booth to buy.


So you have to be careful. If they are a jerk, it’s easier to judge. But often in that few second encounter you can’t tell.


I had a young couple standing in front of my booth with a sketchpad once, the woman was drawing away like mad. I asked why. He said, “She has a project due next week and needs ideas.” I asked them to please stop. They did, but backed away very slowly, drawing all the while.


Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the our latest Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

Video Website Reviews

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service