How professional photographs of your studio and your work can boost your business – by artist Trudi Murray
When we put a call-out for studio pictures to feature as a banner on the Folksy homepage, Trudi Murray sent us a pretty but poorly lit photo of her loft studio. Her space was lovely and we could see potential, so we asked if she had any more photos. This led Trudi into the talented arms of photographer Juliet McKee, who arranged to come to Trudi’s studio and capture the beauty of Trudi’s artwork and her workspace in a four-hour photo shoot. One glimpse of these new photos and we knew we had to see more, so we invited Trudi to be our featured maker and interviewed her as part of our Meet the Maker series. This interview then caught the eye of the hugely influential Creative Boom who fell in love with her studio space too, and that in turn led to another feature in The Pool. Here Trudi tells us about the shoot and how being armed with a handful of beautiful professional photographs of her studio and her work has helped her business and boosted her confidence…
When the photos came through I almost fainted. What an asset! In an evening or two I had revolutionised and streamlined my social media banners, profile pictures and blog. A few months later, I’ve been featured on Creative Boom and The Pool.
About a year or so ago, a strange thing kept happening. I didn’t have a Folksy shop yet. I was selling paintings to local people who’d bought them after seeing photos on my Facebook page. I took those photos on my phone, and things were selling well, so I didn’t question it. When I delivered the paintings in real life, people would gasp and say: “But it’s so much nicer in real life. I liked it in the photos, but this is gorgeous!”
Fast forward a few exciting months… I opened up my Folksy shop, and became more present online. I quickly realised that my online presence was not as impressive as either my work or my set-up in real life. I’m lucky enough to work in a beautiful loft studio, but in my photos on social media it looked gloomy and dark. My cats looked not charming, but miserable. My work looked muted, not bright and fun. I had submitted one of those gloomy photos to Folksy to use as a banner on their homepage – they told me very politely that, although lovely, it wasn’t useable. I then took part in a #folksyhour chat about photography and finished up feeling glum. I just wanted to make art, not learn how to be a professional photographer!
So far, so frustrating. The answer came when I went to the wedding of some friends. The photos afterwards were full of the prettiest details – all colourful and shiny and happy and delightful. I could suddenly see that this sort of photography would fit my work very well, and would show off my business to its true potential. The photographer, Juliet McKee, also happened to be local enough to travel to me easily, so all seemed well and I booked her in for a four-hour session.
Working alone can be isolating, and it’s easy for me to question whether I’m doing anything apart from talking out loud to the cats all day long. But seeing what I do through someone else’s eyes made me know for sure that I have something here.
Before the morning, Juliet asked me to provide her with 10 words that I felt described me, my ‘brand’ and my business – the message I was trying to get across. I came up with: bold, gentle, friendly, sensitive, beautiful, different, joyful, controlled, free and intelligent. (Some of them are aspirational, but a girl can dream!). I set about cleaning up the studio and deciding how I wanted it to look. I spent a long time prepping everything and making it just so. I agonised about what to wear! I didn’t sleep much the night before and had to get cross with myself. This was an investment after all. I had to get it right. I had to relax!
I needn’t have worried (quite a common theme for me). On the day, I just put on my favourite everyday skirt and t-shirt, deciding to be comfortable and normal, not dressed up. So what you see in the photos is actually what I do look like, most days (in fact I’m wearing those jeans right now). When Juliet arrived I felt at ease right away, and was so relaxed, I got on and painted while she took photos. She was amazing – able to conjure light and freshness, capture details and be gentle, and punchy all at once. We quickly started working together, suggesting ideas for photos, and it was so much fun.
I was a little nervous being the centre of attention with nothing to do with my hands… Juliet got me riding round the garden on my bike, to make me giggle.
When it came to headshots, I was a little nervous being the centre of attention with nothing to do with my hands. Lovely, creative Juliet got me riding round the garden on my bike, to make me giggle. Those are some of my favourite shots! We brewed some tea and talked about motherhood, cats and business.
When the photos came through I almost fainted. What an asset! I loved every one of them. Most of all, they made me feel confident. Working alone can be isolating, and it’s easy for me to question whether I’m doing anything apart from talking out loud to the cats all day long. But seeing what I do through someone else’s eyes (in this case, a lens) made me know for sure that I have something here. Juliet could not have taken photos of nothing. For me, that was defining, and exhilarating.
In an evening or two I had revolutionised and streamlined my social media banners, profile pictures, and blog. A month later, I’d made a new website with new designs and professional photos. A few months later, I’ve been featured on blogs such as Creative Boom and The Pool – both massive thrills, which wouldn’t have happened without the photos.
This year I’m planning to change the way I work: instead of painting a few pieces and listing them on Folksy as they are made, I’m going to create ‘collections’, have them professionally photographed and then launch them, publicising them to the hilt with the gorgeous product photos. It’s exciting to think about! That way I can get my art into magazines too, and out to a wider audience.
I would highly recommend investing in some professional photographs. Like I said, I just want to make art and I’m quite happy to pay for someone else’s skill in photography! Best of all, I’ve made a new friend and work colleague in Juliet. Life is good, and people are brilliant, and we can all help each other. I don’t need to be alone in my loft any more than I want to be. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go talk to my cats some more.
Follow Trudi on Instagram to see more studio peeks @trudi_murray
Visit Juliet McKee’s website to see more examples of her photography