Art Fair Insiders

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

Staged Booth Photos and the Jury Process - well why do you take them and why weight them so highly?

I have been wanting to have event promoters discuss this topic for quite some time, but never got around to posting it: Why do juried events accept STAGED (FAKE) BOOTH IMAGES for evaluation purposes and then weight them so highly?

Truth is, most on site booth set-ups do not resemble the submitted jury images. They do NOT usually show browse bins, density of merchandise marketed for sale, signage in use at the show, and that often many exhibitors move their displays outside the boundaries of their booths. They may even show prints of originals staged as originals when the original was sold long ago. Juries already accept works for evaluation which are no longer in the artist's inventory and may be 10 or more years old - not reflecting the work which the artist currently does....

Why not require CURRENT (within the last 12 months) booth shots which are actually obtained at events to show what an exhibitors set-up REALLY looks like...warts and all.

Juries will have to acknowledge that they are live shots and not optimized for being pretty. Most exhibitor booths are not pristine, nor exhibit the Spartan emptiness which juries seem to adore. They may need to weight them less heavily to reflect the reality of so many situations 

Most booths are filled with as much product as possible in order to hopefully have items which might appeal to a customer.

CAVEAT - there are some higher end painters and others who do often only display 15-20 pieces in their booths... BUT often they are set up where you cannot see the interior of the display because of the zig-zag walls and mini-maze set-up used to display their work.......... But some of these also have non-show booth jury shots that don't reflect the rather claustrophobic actual booth conditions.

An artist who submits an actual at-the-show-booth-image is often penalized because it reflects reality.

Meanwhile, there are those in the art community who have created a separate revenue stream by offering booth shot creation and post-processing services. Some of these providers appear to have insinuated themselves into the jury advisory process... which gives the appearance of perpetuating the use and preferred acceptance of fake booth photos.

While I admire these folks for their revenue creation efforts, the truth is that those who doing this as a service are enabling a dishonest practice if their clients are not going into a show and setting up their displays in the same way that the images are submitted. And the juries are not being backed up by the show personnel actually going to confirm that the booth looks like the jury image.

If shows have a preference for this Spartan display look which maximizes the booth space and not the amount of product, then they need to be more specific in their jury criteria. In any event, juries need to require actual set-up images for evaluation of perhaps they should scrap the fake booth jury image altogether.

Let the firestorm begin........ I'm wearing my leopard skin print Nomex outfit.....

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Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on August 31, 2015 at 12:18am

Wow, there's one more reason to do a staged shot:  Much more control over the shot, especially the lighting.  Do you have glass over the artwork in the bottom but not in the top picture?  The ones in the top photo just pop right out!

Comment by Alison Thomas on August 29, 2015 at 9:35am

Top is my application booth shot, taken at a show and cleaned up by Larry.  Bottom is my actual booth at a show.  I don't see a whole lot of difference.  There is a big difference in staging or modifying you booth shot so that it eliminates distractions for the jury and showing up at a show with a completely different setup.

Comment by Alison Thomas on August 29, 2015 at 9:32am

Comment by Alison Thomas on August 29, 2015 at 9:32am

Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on August 29, 2015 at 7:57am

Robert Wallis - Yes I did!  Earlier this year I set up my booth like my jury shot -- because it looked so good!  The second day I had to rearrange everything.  My cases up front with cheaper things in the back were scaring off all the customers.  Sunday I put the cases in the back and cheaper items up front and even though we had substantially less traffic, I had substantially more sales.

Mark Turner said:

That puts you right up there with the best in buy/sell merchants. 

Frankly, I find that very offensive.  People stage their booth photos because that is what is expected of them.  Not because we are trying to be dishonest.  Comparing us to buy/sell is more than a little hyperbolic and divisive, don't you think?

If I have to set up my booth like a gallery, there is no point in my doing the show because I wouldn't be able to make enough money to pay my expenses.  So yes, I will stage my booth shot until the day comes when juries decide to be in the real world.

Comment by Mark V. Turner on August 29, 2015 at 2:26am
Darn voice to text editor!
Comment by Mark V. Turner on August 29, 2015 at 2:25am
None of the shows that I do in my area do you want to sort of checking who's versus actual set up. Maybe I'm just doing the wrong shows. But that's because I send an honest boost photo and the good shows won't take it because I don't do a staged photo. How ironic.
Comment by Reid Watts on August 28, 2015 at 11:33pm

Mark and Jeff: I have participated in at least two shows where a member of the organizing committee came around with a clipboard that included a picture of my booth that I submitted in the application process.  In yet another show, we were all required to hang a sign in our booth that includes the booth picture that we juried in with.  The sign was printed by the promoter and handed out at check-in, and allowed anyone visiting the booth during the  show to compare what was submitted with what the actual booth looked like.  Since I always submit a picture of my booth from an actual previous show, I never had a problem. 

So everything you are suggesting as remedies is old hat, at least at some shows.  Your annoyance must be with a particular promoter or promoters.  Maybe it's time to get away from generalities (which I just proved are wrong) to specifics.  What exactly are you talking about?  Who needs to change?

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 28, 2015 at 9:49pm

Just for giggles and grins, has anyone set up their booth at a show just the way it was staged? My booth shot has no rear door and the prints that are hanging are all 20x30 so there are 17 pieces hanging plus a flip bin. In reality there is a center rear doorway and three rows of work instead of two for a total of 28 pieces hanging. I've wondered more than once what the impact would be with the lesser work hanging and how that would affect sales. 

Comment by Mark V. Turner on August 28, 2015 at 9:20pm
The reason it's wrong is because it's downright intellectually and physically dishonest. So nice you and the show directors are content in drinking the kool-aid from the same Dixie Cup. That puts you right up there with the best in buy/sell merchants. And that attitude is why honest talented people who show it like it is when they do their submissions get screwed over despite sending images of original and innovative work; and an honest image of what their booth looks like when it's really at a show. Apparently honesty isn't a best policy when it comes to jurying. The event jury process is opaque for most events and those being juried are committing fraud based on Zapp discussions ( which is what? A core group of promoters who decided on a common format for advertising and accepting entries for shows. And we all know Zapp makes their money.

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