iZettle again

I wrote about iZettle some time ago when I got myself an iZettle credit card reading device. I was delighted with it at the time but I had taken a chance because officially my phone wasn’t a supported device. This finally bit me, as the card reader became increasingly unreliable and finally just didn’t work. Fortunately, the customers were patient and I didn’t lose any sales but it couldn’t carry on.

So I checked with iZettle and I’ve spent Ā£70 on a new, bluetooth-connected, iZettle reader.

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Old (left) vs. new

This worked first time out. Set-up was easy and in fact, compared to the previous model, this one is almost instantaneous in use. I no longer need to engage the customer in polite chit-chat while we wait for the swirly image on the phone to indicate “ready”.

In use, it’s basically the same as the old device except you don’t need to plug it into your phone. I’ll write again if I have any trouble with it but for now I’m going to be optimistic and assume it will work.

Remembering hard work

Phew! Since swapping full time office work for a new business as a full time landscape photographer I’ve forgotten what it’s like to work hard. Now I remember. I’ve just done three art markets in a row. Fill the car full of stock and display gear. Hump it from car to market, unpack, set up. Stand in the freezing cold for ten hours. Tear down, lift and carry, unpack. Make more stock for the next day. Repeat. I can’t complain though because the time actually at the market is such a lot of fun. Two more markets this week, thursday and friday with Makers Market at Spinningfields. Looking forward to it!

Exhibiting at the St Gemma’s Leeds exhibition

I’ve booked a place at the St. Gemma’s Leeds Art and Photography Exhibition in October. I’ve chosen a set of eight shots from my recent Porth Or trip, which you can see again here. They look fantastic framed and I had them on show at my last art market and the response was really good (which means I’ve got some more framing to do!).

Here’s the set of eight I’ll be showing.

Getting ready – Cumbria Photography Show

I’ll be at the Cumbria Photography Show this weekend, with a specially selected set of pictures focussing on mountains but especially Cumbrian mountains.

I’ve done some printing and mounting of shots I haven’t shown before. Getting stock ready for exhibition is, without doubt, the hardest and most tedious part of the job. I’ve spent about six hours in preparation today and what I’ve done is:

  • Added hanging wire to four frames
  • Mounted and wrapped four medium-size prints
  • Printed three small prints

…and that’s it. In six hours. I’m sure some people must be more productive than that. There is better mounting equipment I could buy that would make things faster but I have to sell a lot more before I can invest any more. Here are some pictures of the process.

I start with full size sheets of mount or backing board. These are too big for my small mounting machine so at this size I have to do the first cuts by hand with a ruler that isn’t big enough for the job. Note the piece of gear every printmaker needs – a very large sheet of cardboard as a sacrificial piece underneath. Also note the table isn’t big enough for the full cut either. See why I’d like to invest in more equipment?

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Cutting a full size sheet of backing board

With the backing board and the window mount cut (using the mounting machine) you place the print and attach to the back with T hinges.

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Attach print with T-hinges

Then add double sided tape which will hold the window mount to the backing board. Some (most) people use a single piece of tape to hinge these two together, making it easier to access the print. I like my method as it makes for a much sturdier product that will stand a lot of handling.

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Add double sided tape to three sides

Here are some special custom-made mounting tools. A nice heavy paperweight and a Tokina 70-200mm lens, in Pentax A-mount, wrapped in a sock as a second paperweight.

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Special tools

I sign the print in the margin and add the title, using a pencil (an “H” pencil) for this kind of matte paper. I also put a white label on the back with extra information. People looking through prints in the print browsers usually turn them over to see what’s on the back, so this label gives them something to read.

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Prints are signed and titled

Finally, the prints mounted and wrapped in cellophane ready to sell.

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Wrapped and ready to sell

I’m really looking forward to the show. I don’t think I’ll sell much. The audience will be mostly photographers and photographers aren’t likely to buy other people’s photographs, but I think there’ll be some really interesting people to talk to.

Artsmix Leeds, last Saturday

I had a great day at the Artsmix market in Leeds a couple of days ago. I’ve made a new set of framed pictures using my more recent mountain shots of the Lake District and Snowdonia and they looked absolutely great. I’d also got some nicer display gear and on the whole the stall looked fantastic (IMHO šŸ™‚ The new stuff got a really good reaction and I sold a couple of them. The bonus was that nothing got broken or damaged by weather!

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Not surprisingly I forgot to take my camera (again!) and took this shot with my wife’s smartphone.

Cumbria Photography Show

I’ll be exhibiting at the Cumbria Photography Show with my collaborator Richard on the 14th and 15th of May. It’s at the Rheged exhibition centre outside Penrith. I’m really excited by it. Our usual showings are at town centre art markets with a general town centre population as the audience. The Rheged exhibition is different in a couple of ways. First, it’s in the Lake District, which is where I’ve been specialising for the last couple of years. It will be interesting to see how my Lake District pictures go down in the place they were made.

Second, this is a photography show for photographers. There’ll be a lot of good photographers there and it will be really interesting to see how our stuff compares with theirs. I’m looking forward to it.

Artsmix in Leeds this Saturday

I’ll be showing and selling at Artsmix in Leeds again this saturday, the first time this year for this Leeds venue. It’s a great location, lots of people to visit the stall and talk to and always a tempting selection of cake stalls to spend your money on.

I’ve got new framed stock that looks fantastic, I’m really pleased. I’ve also got some new display kit to try and make the stall look a little more inviting. I’m still trying to hit on that magic X factor that makes people from across the street take notice and walk over. I’ll be showing on my own this time, as I usually share the Artsmix stalls with my good friend Richard.

The market is open from about 10am until 6-ish pm. See you there…

Photography is easy, Framing is hard

When I attend art fairs and markets I take a mix of framed printsĀ and unframed mountedĀ prints. Framing is a pain. The frames are easily damaged, one small ding or scratch can ruin it. It’s expensive to get custom frames made, and how do you know what frames people like? What if you try framing a particular print but it doesn’t get any response and you want to swap it for a different one? Can you dismantle it and try again? All in all, framing is a right royal pain in the backside. However, nicely framed prints look gorgeous and make a great impact on the stand or stall.

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I’ve always gone for the custom framing route before but now I’ve bought some ready made frames to try. Much much cheaper, they’re nice quality and look great. Because they’re from a major retail chain I reckon I’m fairly safe in the choice of design. The major retail chain knows what sells and what’s on trend and wouldn’t be stocking them if they weren’t popular.

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The key for me was the aspect ratio. My prints have a variety of aspects, 3/2 or 4/3 for the digital prints, and various for slide film scans, not to mention ones that have been cropped for artistic reasons. My main worry was whether the mount borders would be all wrong. It turns out that with the two sizes I’ve bought – 50cm x 40cm and 40cm x 30cm – the aspect is close enough that I don’t think anyone will be bothered. The person who fusses most about this is me and they look good to me.

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If this works out it will be a major breakthrough. I’ll be able to standardise print and mount sizes and by interchangeable, inexpensive ready made frames that will be less of a heartache to replace when damaged and less of a wallet ache to invest in up front and will let me try different prints in the frames to see what the response is.

And I have to say, they look gorgeous!

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It’s easy to find religious discussions on the internet about the pros and cons of cropping your images. Some people think it’s artistic heresy to crop, that you should get the image right in-camera. I think crop if you want to but one very good reason for never cropping is that if all your pictures are the same shape, printing, mounting and framing are MUCH easier. And if you really want an easy time of it, shoot in square format.