It’s about the art, not the photographer.

Time and time again, I tell customers to make their online presence client focused rather than self promotional. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this online:

“…is an award winning professional photographer with a masters in fine art who’s passion is…”

This is great for an ‘about’  page on a website, but that’s where this kind of content should stay. Content like this sends the message that the art is all about you, the  photographer, and not about the client. There is a simple way to establish your credibility and market your brand.

Understand your audience.

Know what need your clients want to have fulfilled and tell them how you can satisfy it. Many years ago, a mentor once told me: “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.” More pointed – they buy the emotional connection behind the experience. He was bang on. Throughout my entire career, from marketing cars and IT services, to donations and memberships, it all comes down to this fundamental principal: Selling the experience will resonate with your audience better than a pitch about product features.

The hard-hitting truth.

When it comes to your photography, people aren’t buying you, the photographer, (or even your photos for that matter), they’re buying the benefits they get from your photos. The emotion evoked and the need satisfaction met. Keep in mind that different market segments will have different expectations, so be sure to promote your photography business accordingly. The photographer behind the work will sell itself.

About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, representing Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers who are looking to create and perfect their work, while we stay keenly focused on the marketing side of their business.

Connecting the photographer & the audience

I’ve interviewed a few photographers for this post and I quickly came to the conclusion that most photographers a) have never written an artist statement or b) really…. REALLY hate writing them. Why? Because most artists visual thinkers. It’s hard for photographers to put their creative process, philosophy, vision and passion into words .

In this post, we share some tips on developing your artist statement. Specifically, why you should have one, where you will use one and how to write one.

What is an artist’s statement?

The artist’s statement is  an effective marketing tool that connects the photographer with their audience. An artist’s statement is not a resume, a biography, a list of accomplishments and awards or a summary of exhibitions or a catalogue of works.

It’s a short document written to provide a window into the photographer’s world. It enlightens and engages – giving the audience,  (potential buyers), an understanding of you and your motivation behind your work. It can be insight into a single photo or a collection of photographs. The important thing to remember is…  it’s a living document that can change because you change.

Why should you write an artist’s statement?

People who love a photographers’ work generally want to know more about the photographer. Your statement will help your viewers answer questions they may have about you. When viewers have answers, their delight in what you shoot increases, and they have more reasons to take your photographs home with them.

Here are a few questions you can answer to help craft one:

  • Why do you create the photographs you do and what does it mean to you?
  • How does the creation of your work make you feel? What emotions do you wish to convey?
  • If the statement refers to a specific photo or series, why did you choose to represent this photo in this way? What do you call the photo and why?
  • What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work?
  • What message are you trying to convey to the viewer?
  • How is your work a reflection of you?
  • What artists (living or dead) have influenced you?
  • What is your vision/philosophy?
  • What are your goals for the future?
  • What are your techniques and style and how do these relate?
  • How do your techniques and style relate to your vision/philosophy?

How long should my artist statement be?

The key here is to express how you feel and create a statement that stands on its own and represents your work. Remember that people usually don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time reading, so it’s better to err on the shorter side. One to three paragraphs – at most.

What kind of language should I use?

Keep your statement clear and concise. Avoid flowery language and “art-speak”. This only lengthens and weakens your statement. Use language that is comfortable to you, and let your words flow. Don’t be technical. Readers won’t care what equipment or post processing software you use. Leave details about tour gear out of it.

You’re an artist at heart, so some specific terms you may wish to mention in your statement are the elements of art (line, colour, shape, value, space, form, and texture), and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, harmony/unity, pattern, rhythm, proportion, and variety). Source: How to Write an Artist’s Statement by: Melissa Wotherspoon

We started out by crafting press releases for Ottawa business fifteen years ago. Today we write artist statements and PR plans for Ottawa’s most talented photographers. From experience and a marketing perspective, the more you can relate to your audience, the better your chances are of selling your work.

Where and when will I use it?

This is a common question I get, (a lot).  Here’s several instances where you artist statement will come in handy…

Where will you use it?

  • In an exhibition
  • In conjunction with your biography
  • As a boiler plate in a news releases
  • In your brochures and/or printed marketing materials
  • On your blog,  website and social media

When you will you use it?

  • Approaching a gallery with an exhibition proposal
  • Entry Form for Competitions
  • Introducing yourself to potential buyers
  • Public speaking and networking opportunities as your verbal introduction
  • Talking to clients at a private view
  • Sales presentation by an agent
  • Publications writing about your work
  • Pitch to agencies


Want to be featured?

We’ll be featuring some of Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers in upcoming Q&A style blog posts. Want to be featured? Contact us with the words “Blog feature” in the subject of your email.

About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. Learn more and connect at

Storytelling – lessons from my 10 year old

I was recently helping my daughter with some research on a topic for her class presentation. As we googled the subject, I was teaching her how to develop story content by pulling out the salient points on the topic to include in her report.

What I found interesting about the topic, she obviously didn’t with the response…

“Mom, they already know that. I don’t want to bore my audience to death. If I include that, they’ll all fall asleep on me.”

She continued to draw on facts and tidbits she thought her class might find interesting. The fact that she didn’t pull the key elements to the story in chronological order didn’t matter to her.

What did matter to her was that she was telling the story in her own way, creating a story that she thought would engage her audience with information she felt was relevant and interesting.

Image of kids shoes

Wow! At age 10, she already knows the fundamental concept of storytelling.

Put yourself in your their shoes

As this little 360 degree lesson taught by my daughter reminds us, you have to put yourself in your audiences’ shoes… it will give you a new perspective when developing your story. To effectively get your ideas across, you must first figure out who your audience is, what they currently know and what more they want to know.

Then, think about how to guide them from their current knowledge to what you need them to know to get them to respond (call, visit, sign-up). To do this, try answering the following questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What does my audience already know about the topic?
  • What does my audience need to know?
  • What questions will my audience have?
  • What’s the best outcome for telling my story? What do I need to say to get my point across?
  • What’s the best outcome for my audience? What do I need to say to get them to act?

Identifying your audience needs will do more than ensure that you write clearly. It will help you create a story that is relevant, engaging and personal, directly targeted to your audience.

Elementary, isn’t it?


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

standing out from the crowd and thinking outside the PR box.

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]Recently while surfing PR related blogs, I came across the following online resume from recent graduate,  Najja Howard, that struck me…  It started with the title “Why You Shouldn’t Hire Me”… and the rest that followed was this:

“Let me just start by saying, I am not your average practitioner. I acquire several traits, personally and professionally that may classify me as a “risk” or “hazard” to the status quo.  For example:

  1. I  Am A Critical Thinker (I challenge ideas constantly)
  2. I Don’t Practice “One Size Fits All” PR
  3. I  Respect and Honor the Power of Words and Relationships
  4. I Refuse to Set Creative Boundaries
  5. I Encourage the Open Exchange of Ideas
  6. I Truly Believe that Social Media Is the Best thing Since Sliced Bread (and I tell clients that everyday)
  7. I  Easily Adapt To Situations That Are Beyond My Control (what economic downturn?)

If your company has zero interest in someone with these traits, but instead  is looking for a candidate  who is meek, bland, “yes” men and women, unchallenged ,uninspired and unmotivated- Please don’t hire me! However if you are looking for someone with these traits and so much more then please continue reading…”

It compelled me to read on because when I was fresh out of school,  I deployed a similar tactic to stand out from the crowd, (sadly, before the days of the internet as commonplace for business and where facebook,  twitter and other social media venues where pipe dreams).  Mine was paper based and consisted of a folder that I had a professionally printed, (remember those)?  On the front – I had printed, “I’ve worked very hard to reach you” and on the inside flap – “But I’ll work even harder once your reach me” with my resume neatly tucked into the inside pocket.  It helped me stand out from the crowd with a president who appreciated my creativity and I was fortunate to secure my first job with a big brand company.

In PR, we all need to start thinking out of the box. Recent graduates have the edge by entering the world of PR already thinking outside of the box with a good grounding in social media.  Like those who are entering the job market, companies are continually looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and in order to do so, are integrating social media into their communications strategy.  A colleague recently asked me if they should start considering social media in their PR strategy and my answer was an emphatic, “YES!” As this astute graduate pointed out,  “status quo” is no longer an option.  As the technological evolution continues to advance, we all need to step up our game, think outside of the box and be part of the conversation.

the gift

With the arrival of spring and all the joys it brings with it, I reflect on this past winter season.  My daughter really “got” Christmas this year.  It meant more to her than simply ripping paper and glittery bows off boxes – only to toss them aside to move on to the next one – perfectly oblivious to the unveiled toy I searched for in three different malls in the middle of a snow storm.  She gets the whole, “Santa coming down the chimney” and “good girls and lists”… and believe me – I use it to my advantage all year long while I can.


She was so engrossed in the magic of Christmas last year, that Madeline has decided that this year, she was going to visit the north pole and talked about  it relentlessly every night, long after the jolly old soul had come and gone.  So each night as we got all tucked into bed, we would talk about what Santa’s workshop would look like and what she would do once she got there… and that’s exactly how our dreamy adventure with Santa began.  With the help of my sleepy little editor, it evolved into a wonderful story.   Madeline enjoys an adventure with Santa where she visits the North Pole with her friends to see how Santa and Mrs. Claus get ready for Christmas.  In the story, Madeline and her friends meet the reindeer, share cookies with elves, ride in Santa’s sleigh and get a sneak peek at their names on Santa’s “nice” list. 


Originally crafted for Madeline, I have added this story to the growing list of Storyline for kids books for other parents to experience with their own children and also crafted a fun, personalized letter from Santa with optional messaging.  I’m looking forward to seeing Madeline’s eyes light up when she receives her letter from Santa “in the mail” this year. 


I know… I know… spring has just sprung and here I am preparing for next Christmas.  Believe me – I can do without the snow, (that just melted completely from our backyard last week, I might add).  Being a mom and having the opportunity to share these experiences with her is like being a kid a Christmas myself.  I feel so incredibly blessed.  Crafting each story together is like unwrapping a new gift everyday.  I never know how the storyline will evolve with her little imagination at work or how it is going to end, but I can be sure that the final “package” is something we will both treasure for a long, long time.