Happy Monday Everyone!

This week we are going to start out series on applying to Festivals. We will specifically be focusing on Juried Festivals since they are most difficult to get into.  The tips can be used for any event that you are desiring to get into.

Your booth photo is the most important part of your application!

The very first year we applied for juried festivals we applied for 3 different festivals and did not get into any.  This was our booth photo.

This is a very important photo.  This was the first time I ever gathered our products together into one space and tried to display them. Looking at it now, it is no wonder we didn’t get into any festivals.  It’s pretty dismal.

I knew that we weren’t ready for festivals but I had been saying we weren’t ready for festivals for 3 years so all I was doing was perpetuating our situation. This was my first leap out of the nest, attempting to flap my wings.

We fell. We did not fly.  I cried over every denial. It sucks.

It was the best thing I ever did.

After the crying abated and I scraped my broken dreams back together, I started planning. I took a very critical look at our photo and made a list of things to improve. This was not easy. Not emotionally or on the pocket book. To even take the photo above we has already spent $250 dollars to buy the tent, sidewalls, table, wood for shelving, moss decoration, etc. Then we spent another $90 just to send the applications in as juried festivals have application fees.

When you are already paycheck to paycheck, it’s rough to get this going on your own. You can do it.  I did. I figured out pretty quick and I needed to do as much as I could myself to save money. My first list of improvements looked like this:

  1. Better utilize booth space
  2. Fill with more product.
  3. Make additional display shelves
  4. Create some sort of backdrop

The things I noticed when looking at my photo in comparison to others I found on Pinterest and Google images were that it was very empty.  The 10×10 space looks huge in comparison to our display. We did not have nearly enough product in the photo. Last, the plain white backdrop was not doing us any favors.

We went back to the drawing board.

I came up with some ideas for display shelves, which Jason built for me. We decided to paint them so they would give more color and life to the booth. I also went out and bought a lot of materials and pumped out a bunch more product to fill shelves. This took about 5 months as we were only working on it in our meager free time. After that we were also financially tapped. I was upset about the backdrop and not having one. I knew the white sidewalls looked bad. Time was out though and I had to take the photo to submit new applications that evening before the application cut off.

As we were setting up I had a stroke of genius.  I left off the other sidewalls and didn’t even put them up.  Since we set up on my driveway, I had to put at least one up so the street wouldn’t show in the photo.  I was lucky enough that we had a very large hedge booth in our front yard next to the driveway and since our product draws on that natural element I thought it would be the perfect backdrop.

Take Two.

Such an improvement from the first one. Not only that, we got into every festival we applied for with this booth photo. We applied for 6 and were accepted into all 6. This time it was acceptance notifications rolling in, not denials. I was on cloud 9.

The reason I say that your booth photo is the most important is that the fist 3 festivals we applied to with our original booth photo has the same product images that we used with the new photo.  The only thing we changed was the booth photo and we went from not getting into anything to getting into some of the biggest shows in our area.

There’s always room for improvement.

Even though we had success the second year, we knew that we could do better. As we went to festivals and set and broke down over and over again, we got a better feel for what we wanted for our company. We knew we wanted to present a professional and polished image but we also wanted to be eclectic and unique. After using the bush as our backdrop and beginning to utilize a lot of wood, I decided I wanted to stick with a garden-esque theme to our look.

Here we go again:

This is the photo we have been using this year. So far we have gotten into 8 festivals with this photo (only 1 denial as we applied for 9). Your booth is something you are going to constantly improve. As you set it up over and over, walk through festivals and look at neighbors booths, better define your product, you will learn.

Don’t Wait!

Do not wait until you are ‘ready’ to start. Do not wait until you are accepted into festivals to improve. You can do it now. You can go down to a street fair that you are thinking about applying for and look at the displays of the artists already there.  Bring a notebook and take notes! Look on Pinterest and Google Images.  The internet is amazing, USE IT!

Be the baby bird. Jump out of the nest. If you are more afraid of falling than you are of staying, you will never learn to fly.

Here are some quick tips to wrap this up:

Next week, we talk about the next step in applications: Product Photos.

Keep creating!



Maker’s Monday: Booth Photos
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