gtwister09

Marketing Proposal for Showcasing Photos for Saddlework

Recommended Posts

Marketing Proposal for Showcasing Photos for Saddlework

In admiring the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association website, numerous saddlemaker’s websites and various forums, I noticed that there are some that provide good overall shots and great detail shots of the saddles. Some are limited to one overall shot. I have also looked at several saddlemakers’ scrapbooks whose desire was to detail their saddle work. Unfortunately many of the scrapbooks and websites don’t show enough detail to show off their work. Likewise many times on our forum members ask for additional photos for details.

This got me to thinking about the saddlemaker scrapbooks and websites. Specifically how could a standard process or presentation format with detailed pictures help saddlemakers showcase past work and ultimately help them increase their sales or profit on their saddles. The purpose of this proposed format is to utilize overall and close-up photos to document each saddle to most effectively capture their artistic talents, inspiration and hard work.

For each saddle I would suggest the following approach. Pictures for each saddle would be broken into two categories, overalls and close-ups. See examples at the end of the document/post arranged according to the two categories below.

(1) A set of overall pictures

Left - Complete left side

Right - Complete right side (use one side only if they are identical –left side is standard ptoto)

Back - One from behind showing cantle and back jockey

Front - One from the front showing horn and fork

Top - One from the top showing horn, fork, seat, cantle and back jockey

(2) Close-ups

Silver work like horn caps, Andy’s hummingbirds, conchos, inlaid seats, tapaderos and special shots like riggings, cinchas, side view minus fenders, seat to horn, horn to seat, seat to jockey and various details of tooling, stamping and other details that a saddlemaker would want to showcase such as combination shots.

I would also suggest not including the surrounding workshop and such in your photos. You are trying to showcase your saddles. Look at discussion on how to photograph saddles (http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=295 ). A specific example of how to perform this is in post #13. Click on this link . Saddle Photography Discussion

See clean photos from Ryan’s saddle below, There are also other examples throughout most of the pictures and links. Use these for inspiration and examples. All pictures are the property of their respective owners. These are unedited photos from their respective sites and forums and are only intended to convey the intent of the proposal.

This format would also be great to use for showing off your saddles on the forum as well. I have also compiled this into a PDF with the examples included. If you would like a copy of this then send me a personal message and I will forward it to you.

Left Side View Examples

Ryan Cope

Jon Watsabaugh

Steve Mason

Troy West

Troy West

Back View Examples

Jeremiah Watt

Jeremiah Watt

Front View Examples

Jeremiah Watt

Jeremiah Watt

Top View Examples

Ryan Cope

Troy West

Jeremiah Watt

Jeremiah Watt

Close-up Examples

Silverwork Horn caps, hummingbirds, stirrups, hobbles and conchos

Andy Knight's Hummingbirds

Cary Schwarz - Silverwork – Horn cap, rope strap and conchos

Cary Schwarz - Silverwork and stirrup

Cary Schwarz - Silverwork and carving detail

Steve Mecum - Silverwork - Horn Cap, Buckle and Conchos

Troy West - Silverwork and back Jockey to Horn Detail

Chuck Stormes - Horn Cap - Dragonfly

John Visser - Cantle Silver

John Visser - Silverwork Conchos and Bucking Roll

John Visser - Monel Stirrup

Combination Photo Examples

Jeremiah Watt

Jeremiah Watt

Jeremiah Watt

Back Jockey Examples

John Visser - Back Jockey

Rick Bean - Back cantle, jockey, Cheyenne roll and silverwork

Rick Bean - Back Jockey and Cantle

Back Jockey to Horn Example

Jon Watsabaugh

Side View Minus Fenders Example

Ryan Cope

Tapaderos Example

Steve Mecum

Horn to Seat Example

Jeremiah Watt

Seat to jockey Example

Jeremiah Watt

Rigging Detail Example

Steve Mason

Back Cinch Loop Detail Example

Steve Mason - Back Cinch Loop Detail

Saddle Bag Detail Example

Rick Bean

Fender Detail Example

Rick Bean

Regards,

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben,

your idea is an interesting one and I thought i'd add a thought or two based on my own experience. When I started making saddles about 8 years ago I had the same problems as any new saddlemaker which included finding customers. At that time I found Ebay a very useful tool for not only selling the odd saddle but finding customers who wanted to order saddles. It took me a couple of saddles but I found a pattern in the market that dictated what kind of saddle I had to make if I wanted to get top dollar for it on Ebay and promote custom orders as well. In a very short time I was backed up with about two years worth of orders which I strongly attribute to the types of photos I put on Ebay with my listing.

As a new saddlemaker in the big scheme, I knew what my shortcomings were and was constantly striving to improve these areas based on viewing other makers work... for me it was the small details like handstitching or ear cuts or jockeys fitting tightly around the cantle. As these areas improved on my saddles, I would be sure to put hi-res, closeup photos on my Ebay listings, showing great detail so that there was no doubt in a viewers mind what they were buying. By doing so, I was getting top dollar compared to some other work that I deemed decent based on the makers name and being familiar with their work. As an example, at one time I had a plain roughout wade saddle on Ebay that sold for $3800.00 (about five years ago) while at the same time there were a few other well made saddles with similar seat sizes, partial floral carving and made by a couple of well know saddlemakers from California. While their listings included about three or four photos showing front, side, back, and angle shots, my listing inlcuded 14 photos that showed every angle imaginable with extreme closeups of handsewing on the horn cap and cantle, as well as the small details I mentioned above. I had to conclude that the reason I was getting a much better price was simply from the better photos and perhaps more detailed description on materials etc.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it seems customers who are buying over the internet and are willing to spend top dollar, are well educated on the finer points of handmade saddles and realize how deceiving photos can be.... How many times have you seen photos of a saddle that looked to be not bad only to see an actual saddle from the maker and be somewhat disappointed? I have seen this numerous times. I think the category of detailed shots you listed needs to be expanded to include the very fine points that saddlemakers use to judge other saddlemaker's work. For me, one of the first things I notice is how well a cantlebinding has been sewn or how tight and clean the ear cuts are... I think an increasing number of customers are noticing these points as well.

A final note on side photos is trying to show seat shape. While it is impossible to give a comprehensive idea of seat shape in a one dimensional photo, a side view that has a saddle sitting the way it would on a horse gives some idea of the amount of seat rise, front and back from the low spot. I have had a good number of customers express interest in my saddles based on this type photo.

Be interested to hear other peoples ideas on this.

Darc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yonatan   

Darc,

I can attest to the impact that your high resolution close-up photos had

on me, when I saw them on ebay a number of years ago. I can also attest

to the positive statements posted by others who saw your work on ebay--

the statements were overwhelming. People were extremely impressed with

your work.

Definitely, the ability to see fine detailed work, clear tones, clean, balanced

lines, was most helpful. But there's another point that I consider crucial here:

there's a profound difference between slick, professional photos that scream

"commercialism", and an honest, close-up look at real craftsmanship, and top

quality materials. Not that professional photos hurt. But if the integrity of the

saddle's workmanship is not clearly visible in the presentation, the impact is

lost.

Yonatan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Darc,

I have several of your eBay listings saved and yes I agree with all that you said about the reason for commanding the higher price due to education, descriptions and photos. This was the reason for throwing this proposal out. FYI - The list of close-ups was not exhaustive. It was only meant to stimulate some thoughts and inspiration for items just like you said. ie... the ears, jockeys and stitching are a couple of them to add.

The next thing as you alluded to is to take the photos and then put descriptions with them that would assist in marketing the artistic abilities of the saddlemaker and the craftsmanship in the saddles.

I would love for more to comment on the proposal. It is only a straw man even though it took a few hours to work out the links and then the PDF.

Take care and will add your comments.

Regards,

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Denise   

Ben,

Thanks for the PDF you sent. Great idea to put it all together like this to help saddle makers promote their work. The pictures you chose are fantastic. Amazing what some people can do, and others aspire to. I know we will be studying them a bunch.

Denise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johanna   

Ben,

If you think people could understand what you are trying to say better with the pdf, send it to me and I'll upload it. Presentation is everything, and I've seen some saddle sites that don't do the actual work justice. In order to justify the value in the customer's mind, and compete with other custom saddlers, good photography skills are important. Some makers could probably command better prices by using pictures and explanations as to why their work is superior in quality. Improving the marketing of their work would be a good investment that would pay off for years to come. Adding text to explain what to look for in a well-built saddle not only piques the readers' interest, but gives a site valuable keywords. Thanks for putting this together- this is the future, people. Marketing is done on the Internet now, and you have to look professional to compete.

Johanna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ben,

If you think people could understand what you are trying to say better with the pdf, send it to me and I'll upload it. Presentation is everything, and I've seen some saddle sites that don't do the actual work justice. In order to justify the value in the customer's mind, and compete with other custom saddlers, good photography skills are important. Some makers could probably command better prices by using pictures and explanations as to why their work is superior in quality. Improving the marketing of their work would be a good investment that would pay off for years to come. Adding text to explain what to look for in a well-built saddle not only piques the readers' interest, but gives a site valuable keywords. Thanks for putting this together- this is the future, people. Marketing is done on the Internet now, and you have to look professional to compete.

Johanna

Johanna,

All I can say to what you just wrote is YES and AMEN! This is exactly the same thing that I have been trying to get across to others in the consulting fields and also to some people in construction, wood working and decorative concrete world as well.

I know that I will be making some additions to the proposal over time but, Darc has been one of the few that offered some additional suggestions for "finer" details that could command higher prices for saddles based on his experience of an above average education and appreciation of the finer points of saddle making. I do have many of his past eBay saddles saved off as well as some of his articles, comments and pictures from other forums. As he stated he believes that the greater detail in his pictures (along with the number of hi-res photos) help sell his saddles at a higher price.

Just having verbiage without the photos does not do justice to the straw man that I put together. It took some time to also put the PDF together. A couple of people have requested it off line already. The detailed photos are not exhaustive but a guideline for saddle makers to consider. Likewise the whole proposal was one that I hoped would stir up some marketing juices in the ranks. Even if they did not use it for the web it still could greatly enhance their diary of past work (which is what some of them have used to sell additional work - a customer thumbs through their past work).

However I did not want to get the site in trouble with having others' pictures embedded in the forum. Therefore I took the time to create one that only had links and not the actual photos in the post to the forum. The PDF is obviously more impacting with the pictures included. The intent is to benchmark others examples and incorporate them into your own marketing and photo gallery strategy. I was only trying to establish a framework from which to work with.

I can continue to forward the PDF as others request it so that it keeps the site out of hot water. Likewise sending it upon request gauges the actual interest as well. I then can use these interested parties to continue to refine the process/proposal going forward.

Regards,

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johanna   
Johanna,

I can continue to forward the PDF as others request it so that it keeps the site out of hot water. Likewise sending it upon request gauges the actual interest as well. I then can use these interested parties to continue to refine the process/proposal going forward.

Regards,

Ben

Well, can I see it? admin@leatherworker.net

~J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skip   

thank you for this topic it has piqued my interest and educated me as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johanna   

WOW!! Those saddles are beautiful! I don't know much about saddles, but I know leatherwork, and I am amazed at the workmanship. I see what you mean about the quality of the photos, and the angles used. I recognize all but one or two of the names in the credits- and I would be happy to ask all the makers for permission to use that guide as a lesson in representing work to the best advantage. Wow, just wow. I have no ideas what those pictured saddles cost, but I'm sure they are worth it and then some. If those pics can impress me so much, imagine how someone who knew what they were looking at would feel. I suspect they would be even happier about whipping out their checkbook.

Johanna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that taking some decent photos does make a saddle stand out from similar ones. Now whenever I finish a saddle I go to town in photoshop and add text, different backgrounds etc. I think it helps bring it to life. It's the sizzle that sells the steak right? Here's an example of what I recently did for a an ad. post-13207-001475900 1300989906_thumb.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well now that this thread is opened up again I'll ask.

Where did the photos and the pdf file go to?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jared,

You are so right about photo editing software (I like to use Photoshop as well). In fact one of the things mentioned is the use of combination or composite shots which you just about have to use software to do that unless you perform the physical layout with the photos and airbrush them after you glue up the mockup (old school layout work). Jeremiah has several examples of that type of photo editing work. I certainly did not go into actual photography techniques or photo editing techniques because that would have required volumes to cover the subject and there are LOTS of informaiton, books, CBTs, etc out there on both subjects. This has actually garnered little interest except that there has been quite a few views.

Joel,

To answer your questions about the pictures and PDF. The PDF was never put on here because an organization didn't want the use of their members pictures used (actually they stated that they would prefer that they not be used) even in a document that fits into their generic vision of furthering the craft of saddlemaking even though credit was given by stating the following. "All pictures are the property of their respective owners. These are unedited photos from their respective sites and forums and are only intended to convey the intent of the proposal." Of course they did want to know if money was exchanged for this endeavor. All I did was laugh...because very few people even requested the PDF proposal or provided any additional feedback. Thanks to those who did!

Now as to the pictures..... Here's one of my issues about not including photos with threads (Unfortunately in this instance they were NOT my photos to use.. I was only compiling from sources to show intent for the proposal). When you use external sources you are at the mercy of the other websites including Photobucket and so forth. I don't know how many of the other forums that I am on (engraving, woodworking, bits, spurs, ranching, etc) that have no photos left because they have been removed or changed. Even forum members remove or rearrange files from time to time and then you have NO information to draw from on photos. In fact this is actually a pet peeve of mine on sites that state some sort of learning in their vision, mission or purpose and don't include photos unless they link to other web sites for ideas and consideration - copyright law is a wicked taskmaster. Bottom line is that if they are our photos then we need to include them in the thread so that they are there for future reference.

For instance....Just as an example... Try to find Steve Mecum's work on the TCAA site today. Gone! Likewise any time someone makes changes to their sites then those links are gone.

Here's the original reasons as stated above for not including the photos in the thread (only links - which it appears that some still work) or the PDF.

However I did not want to get the site in trouble with having others' pictures embedded in the forum. Therefore I took the time to create one that only had links and not the actual photos in the post to the forum. The PDF is obviously more impacting with the pictures included. The intent is to benchmark others examples and incorporate them into your own marketing and photo gallery strategy. I was only trying to establish a framework from which to work with.

I can continue to forward the PDF as others request it so that it keeps the site out of hot water. Likewise sending it upon request gauges the actual interest as well. I then can use these interested parties to continue to refine the process/proposal going forward.

I personally capture a lot of information from this site and various others just due to the fact that information is lost (sites change, links are broken, photos are deleted or moved to a gallery even on sites like photobucket and God forbid computers/forums crash). So I archive information as I can into PDFs. On forums I create scripts that reformat the html files, clean them up and then generate PDFs for archival purposes. I make sure in the copyright notice that this is only for archival purposes and that all information and photos are the property of their respective owners. I like to have tickler files for inspiration and also to capture techniques.

Off my soapbox...:zzz:Sorry.

Regards,

Ben

Edited by gtwister09

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh...:head_hurts_kr:

Yeah I know that problem. I still think it was a good idea.

Joel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From a buyer's perspective, I want to see the saddle dead on from the side, in addition to front and back. I want to see how the seat profiles sitting absolutely level, with no twist toward the camera whatsoever (which is the most common problem I see in "for sale" photos). I don't want the distortion of looking down on the seat, and guessing how it profiles, either. I found by crouching a little bit, and making sure the saddle was posed straight from head to tail, I could get photos like this. I see a lot of saddles on this forum posed dead on from the side, and in my mind, that's exactly how it should be. I can tell right off the bat if the seat has the profile I like.

The other thing I want to see, is the saddle on a rack with "withers." Saddles posed dumped downhill skew the line of the skirts, and again misrepresent the seatwork. Drives me nuts. If I'm buying some undiscovered gem off Craigslist, fine, but I think it's pretty obtuse for someone who advertises their great seatwork and professional skirt design not to show it off.

Pose the stirrup leathers where they're supposed to hang, not jacked forward like some 1969 Simco ad. I don't want to guess how if I'm not "spurring 'em in the shoulders", where the heck are my legs going to go the rest of the time? I'm not buying a saddle bronc saddle, for crying out loud. Most cutting and reining saddles are going to hang a little forward, but yanking them up there to pose it makes me wonder where they really want to be.

I haven't made any saddles (yet) but I've restored a bunch, and bought and sold quite a few over the years. It's so irritating to ask, "Hey, can you send a GOOD photo from the side?" and then get one of those twisted seat, dumped down, fenders pitched forward photos that still tell me absolutely... nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now