This weekend, we popped on down to see my mom in South Jersey. Luckily, the Collingswood Crafts and Fine Arts Festival was in full swing.
Like any other type of fair like this, it runs the gamut from tchotchke to pretty darn nice. For me, it was a chance to get some gift-buying in before I headed back to Portland.
Out of the five people I buy for, I was able to find things for three. A cute dress for my daughter, a funky railroad tie sculpture for my father-in-law and a beautiful necklace for my wife (shhhh, don’t tell her).
As we walked around, we stumbled upon a vendor who had cards with first names and their meaning in calligraphy. They were nice and had every name possible — which was pretty darn cool since my daughter’s name is kind of hard to find on things.
Turns out that my name, Douglas, includes the characteristics of independence and sensitivity. I think there was something about being good-natured, too — which is pretty accurate. I hope.
I would have shared that with you (and remembered the specifics), but for one small thing: I couldn’t take a picture of the card.
As I picked up my cousin Abby’s name to photograph (“talkative” was one of the meanings of her name, which is dead-on), my mom said, “I don’t think you can take a picture of that.” Almost instantly, the proprietor snapped a “NO PICTURES” at me from across the tent. I use all caps because that’s how loud it was. I looked around for a sign that said “no photos,” but didn’t see one. Just a nasty, mean bark from the woman who ran the tent and a sly “I told you so” look from my mom, which was pretty hilarious.
In fairness, I completely understand when people don’t want things photographed. I really do. There is intellectual property, copyright protection, privacy and the like.
And, when there is a sign clearly in view, I respect it.
In this case, I probably should have asked first. But I do get it.
But here’s the gray area that I couldn’t stop thinking about: I could have possibly created some sales opportunities for these people quite easily.
Here’s my thinking on this.
If I take a photo of something, there is an opportunity to drive people somewhere. If someone is looking for a new audience and opportunities, the small act of saying, “sure, you may take a photo. But could you please include our Twitter handle or website in it?” is massive, in my opinion.
Had it happened in this case, I would have GLADLY done it. And it would have been to an audience of over 33,000 who, I can only assume, knows nothing about these folks. Most may not be interested in it, but some might.
I post it on my personal Facebook page with a link? I am willing to bet that they get some sales since most of my peer group and Facebook friends dig stuff like this.
By and large, artists, in my experience, are always keen on finding new audiences. They work incredibly hard, care deeply about their work and should be rewarded for their efforts.
This strategy of allowing people to take photos and share is an incredible opportunity that may be lost. Again, I get it when people don’t want it photographed. But, if one is willing to allow the photo, I think it is 100% fair to ask for attribution and the chance to include a place to drive people when sharing.
That $1,500 painting at an art fair may be out of someone’s range, but what if a well-heeled collector of new art caught wind? It might be exactly the thing they are looking for and willing to buy. Often.
My defiant streak took the picture. The pragmatist in me deleted it.
But, I can tell you this. It was a good product for people with kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids. It would have made a great gift for someone looking to get something for a friend’s child.
That’s a pretty big audience.
It’s just too bad that I can’t show it to you.
I think you would have liked it.
And bought it.