Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch
Now this is what we call a leave-behind. This is a physical printed thing that I would hand to people whenever I have a meeting, if it's relevant. This is about 10 inches. It's printed on my official paper that I make prints on for galleries. So this gives already a sense of the size of my prints, the feeling of my prints. It has my images on there which are proofed and ready to go. I made sure when these printed that every single image was true to color, contrast, lighting, all of that. It has my name on it, what I do, my website, and then my phone number, which I blurred out. I thought about putting, like, a 555 number. But I didn't do that, so I just blurred it. But it's important to have that contact information, whatever else is relevant. But if you're giving somebody something physical like this that you're leaving behind, you might not wanna put all of your social media handles, for example, on there because they can't click this. It's a piece of paper. So they're not gonna wann...
a be, like, "Okay, Facebook. "Facebook.com/," it's just probably not gonna happen. Unless, I will say, you have one handle for everything. You could put @brookeshaden and then they would know wherever they wanna find me, that's how they can find me. So whatever you wanna put on there is fine, but just remember less information is better. Just the highlights. Your name, what you do, your images, and one way that they can contact you. So that's really good to leave behind. I can't stress this enough, because I've been in so many meetings where either I get handed a business card or I hand someone a business card and we just have this feeling, like, it's definitely going in the trash. Like, you just know. And it makes me feel bad how many business cards I've thrown away, but at the end of the day, it's, like, what do you do with them? But something like this is big and it's beautiful and it shows my images and it's interesting, and it's also relevant. So if I were to go into a meeting with a gallery, they now know my paper. They can feel it, they can touch it, they know what to expect when we work together in the future. When you are writing to those galleries and having those meetings with galleries, publishers, music artists, agencies, any client that you might have, remember to say what you want. I've already said this before and I'm gonna say it again. If you're not telling people exactly what you want, they have no way of knowing. I can go into a meeting with my leave-behind and give that to them and walk out, and if I've never said what I want, they're gonna be, like, "I don't need this. "I don't even know what you want from me." They're not gonna know how to use that contact information if they have no sense of it. So always remember with these press packages, meetings that you might have with people, make sure that your intent is clear on why you're presenting this information to somebody. The elevator pitch. Oh, you guys, are you excited? Oh, I know you're so excited, I know. Okay, this is one sentence that you would tell someone, my example is on an airplane, and they're asking you what you do. I use an airplane because I feel like that's the place where I'm most often trapped and I can't get out of the situation. And it happens constantly, especially because I work a lot on airplanes. So I have my images open and of course, nosy people are, like, looking to see what I'm doing, and then they're, like, "What's that?" Okay, so if the conversation starts with, "What's that," I have to be able to answer that in some compelling way. It's great to practice your artist statement, for example, because then you kind of already know your keywords, you know what you're working with here. So let's take this back to the beginning because this is the culmination of your press package. You've got all that information, you've got it all physically, you've got it as a bundle digitally, you're so on top of things. But if you don't know how to speak to your work, which we're gonna do a whole segment on this, but if you don't know how to speak to your work, then who cares that you even had a meeting? They're gonna take one look at you and if you just don't know what to say, then they don't care, either. So I think it's really important to have this one phrase down. I get really nervous any time I talk to somebody. It's a consistent problem. And I find that when I'm on an airplane and somebody says, "What do you do," I go, "Oh, well, it's, um, oh, it's, "I'm a photographer and well, "it's actually really weird what I do. "Okay, well, it's actually kind of dark and, "well, let me step back. "I'm a fine art photographer. "Well, okay, but that means that I create personal work." And now I'm, like, in this downward spiral of, first of all, not engaging anybody, also confusing myself. Like, I don't even know what I'm trying to say. And then it's like this game that I battle, which is all of social anxiety, which is, like, what do I wanna say versus what does this person wanna hear. And I get really lost and confused. So while I know exactly how to construct an elevator pitch, I am not good at it myself and I'm just gonna be really honest about that, deeply rooted in my social anxieties. Anyone else have some anxiety? 'Kay, yeah, me too. So okay, we're at a party. We're all at a party right now. We are at a party, right? This is a party? So we're at a party and I'm meeting you for the first time. I say, "What do you do?" Which is, like, what everybody asks everybody. It's the most boring question in the world. So let's answer it in an interesting way so that we're not continuing this boring cycle. Let's say that you guys ask me. You're, like, "Hey, what do you do?" I don't know how parties work, clearly, but something like that. I'll say, "Oh, I'm a photographer." And then you'll say, "Oh, what kind?" And I'll say, "Fine art, which is sort of weird "and basically it's creating for yourself," and I'll start to explain a little bit. And then you'll say, "Oh, what does it look like?" And then I'll try to explain it. Now, I would rather just have one good answer right away instead of having you have to follow up with all these things, so that instead of you trying to coax the information out of me, we can immediately move on to what's actually interesting about what I'm saying. So if you say, "What do you do," I'm gonna say, "I'm a fine art photographer. "I create these sort of weird, dark, creepy self-portraits." That's like a quick way of just saying what I do and being strong in my statement. Then you're gonna be, like, "Oh, what's weird and creepy about it?" Or you're gonna be, like, "Self-portraiture, what's that?" One of those words will trigger something for you. And then we can continue our conversation. So I wanna know from you guys, what do you do? We're at a party. That was my party voice. I clearly don't go to parties.
I was just gonna say, I will tell you, but I would not be at this party.
Yeah, that's okay.
That's okay. We're all secretly actually in a basement on our computer.
Okay, go ahead.
I'm a fine art photographer who specializes in horror and weird conceptual work.
That's very interesting. What kind of horror? Is it, like, bloody and stuff?
It's bloody, it has dead things, can I say say that on creative (mumbles)?
Heck yeah. (audience chuckles)
And it often uses weird found objects from nature.
Where do you find them?
Plants, bugs. Everywhere. Outside and in the forest.
So you just go in the forest and just find dead things?
Yes. So you see why I wouldn't be at this party? (all laugh)
But this is great. So, like, I'm just asking you questions that naturally come to my mind. And already I'm, like, "I wanna know you." Somebody else might not feel that way. And that's fine. I was just reminiscing about this time on an airplane about a year ago, maybe two years ago, when my sister and my friend sat in the back and I was more toward the front and we got separated. This man who sat next to them said, "I'm so glad that I didn't sit next to that girl up front "'cause she looks like she smells bad." And they were talking about me. And I was, like, "You know what? "I could have had a great elevator pitch for that man "and I could have shown him, "not only do I not smell bad, "but I also have something interesting to say about my art. "Whatever, he'll never get the chance." So anyways. Okay, I just wanted to tell you that I'm not smelly, I guess. (audience chuckles) Okay, uh-uh, uh-uh. (audience laughs) That's right, don't try to sneak that microphone down.
Here we go. So what do you do.
I am a artist and photographer. I play in the space between the real and the imagined.
Ooh, very neat. What makes you do that? What's not good enough about reality?
I, (chuckles) I love playing with new realities, I love changing my view of playing with new ideas.
What does it look like?
I do two things. I do stills that are painterly, they're playful, they make things happen that wouldn't happen in the real world. And then I also, I'm a cinemagraph animator, which means that it's in between the space between, it's not really a video, it's not a still photograph, it's kind of this, like, moving photograph.
Very cool. I would have lots of follow-up questions for you, which for the sake of time I won't ask right now. But were I somebody who's not also a creator, I would be, like, "Cinemagraph? "What do you mean, it's, like, moving but not moving "and what is moving?" I would have so many questions for you. So that's super, super interesting. And this goes back to choosing just a few images that you can show to be able to speak about your work, because it's that moment that I would want you to pull out your phone and show me exactly what you're talking about. And that's what we should all be able to do, is have a few pieces that you're not gonna overwhelm someone. Have you ever been next to another artist who's, like, "Let me show you my entire life's work "and take up the next three hours of this flight"? And then I'm sitting there, like, "I just wanna write this paper. "But I can't 'cause I'm looking at your photos of your dog." So I've had that experience many times. And that's, of course, one of the dangers of being social. Now I'm, like, giving a class on how to not be social. But that is one of the dangers. Okay, so we won't, I'm not gonna put you guys in the hot seat. But keep thinking about what you would tell people when they say, "What do you do?" Be interesting. So bad to not be interesting. But it's so hard sometimes to be interesting. We can all do it 'cause we're out there making things. Now you're gonna wanna talk to what, how and why. But you probably won't have enough time in an elevator pitch to say what, how and why. If you assume you have, like, maybe 30 seconds of attention span from them until they decide if you're interesting or not. And then that's it. So I would pick one or two of these instead of being, like, "I'm a fine art photographer. "I create composites, I do self-portraiture. "Oh, I grew up with all these fears." At that point they're gonna be, like, "Oh no, what did I sign up for? "I just asked you what you do. "Like, I don't need to know about your childhood." So you might wanna start with the first two, just as a social note, not that I should be giving social notes, but just in case. It should be conversational. So an elevator pitch, I love starting with an elevator pitch because it is conversational. It's just, like, literally you're in the hot seat, what do you do? Make it conversational, make it simple, make it intriguing. And then from what you would naturally tell people, start to craft your artist statements, start to craft the more difficult things to write. Now I wanna give you some examples of a press package. 'Cause we got all this, we've talked about leave-behinds and all that. But I wanna give you some examples of what this might look like. Here, I don't expect you to read this. It's just what I would print out for somebody from my CV. It has my education on it, exhibitions, awards. Let's see, what else do I put on there? Publications, and that's about it. Yours might also say job history, contact information can go on your CV, all those things are important. Now this is something that we haven't spoken about yet. This is something that, now, I kind of moonlight as a motivational speaker. So I've, like, two lives. I'm a photographer but also I do this other thing. So this is more common in speaking, where you would have a one-sheet. But this is something that explains very, very quickly what you're all about, in a flashy, visual way. That's what a one-sheet is. My one-sheet contains an image of mine so that people can see visually what I do for work. It gives a title to my talk. So now yours might not give a title to a talk, 'cause maybe you're not a speaker. But yours might say something like "Surreal Fine Art Photographer" at the top. Great. You're just giving yourself a title, a descriptive title. I have a little bio there of me, just like a really short paragraph saying who I am. And then I have my little, like, what's the right word? Professional and braggy, I know that braggadocios is the word, but it can't say that with any seriousness, blurb about myself. So, like, "I've been published "in da, da, da, da, da magazines," stuff like that, just to give people a sense of, like, an overview of who you are. Your bio, a title for yourself, the braggy blurb at the bottom, and then quotes from other people to give proof to you, proof being people saying nice things about your work, about things that you've done. Can't hurt to have that on there. So this is a one-sheet. It's not necessarily to have in a press package, but I say it can't hurt. I think that every document that you can make to have ready on file to give people is best. This is an example of my Print Detail sheet that I send people. I include this in a press package so that people know everything they need to know about my prints, about my prices, about my sizes, all of that. And I make one of these for everything that I offer. I have one for commissions, I have one for licensing, just a nice beautiful image with clear text that gives all the information that anybody could need about that topic. But it's also a really good way in a press package of letting people see what you have to offer, in a visual, intriguing way. It's really good to include clippings, article clippings, anything that is relevant, if you've been published before. I mean, hey, it's a press package, right? They're gonna wanna see if you've had some press or not. So if you have, include just the important parts. I wouldn't wanna go get this magazine and then give them the whole magazine. They don't care about that. They just wanna see this, the cover, the article. Usually, you might actually rip it out, but you would just wanna make a photocopy of it or photograph that and just include a sample of what you've been in and the most notable things. My head shot, something to include in the press package. You'll wanna probably put that right on top. It's, like, I used to work in a production office in L.A., and all these, like, actor packages, press packages would come through and it would always be like their big smiling head shot on the front, and I would just always giggle to myself because it was just, like, such a, like people, their head shots would come through and people'd just be, like, toss it, keep it, toss it. It was just such a horrifying scary world to live in. So now I get scared to put my head shot anywhere. I'm, like, "Oh, what if they're gonna look at "and just toss it?" But we're not in that world exactly as photographers. The leave-behind will go in the press package. So these are just examples. And then this is the list of what you're going to want to include when you're giving a press package to somebody. Now, the other important thing is that all of this stuff does not necessarily apply to you, as I mentioned earlier. And you won't necessarily send it all together. It's just stuff that could be presented all together as a press package, but you also need to have. You just need to have it if you're going to run a business. Your CV, your bio, your artist statement, print information, these are all separate things that will need to go on your media somehow, on your website, you'll email it to people, you'll send it physically, whatever the case may be. And then social media links, which I haven't really talked about. But it's important to include in some way somehow. I'd recommend not overwhelming people with them. Have you ever gotten an email from somebody where it's, like, 20 links to every social media site, and you're, like, "I just won't click anything "'cause I don't know which one to click"? So don't overwhelm people. When I wanna send people to my places, like, where they can find my work, I'll usually choose one to three. Now, if I just give my website, that's the most professional thing to do. It is the thing that has everything else on it. Very important to mention. So my website lists my Instagram, my Twitter, my Facebook, my blog, all of that. And it's pretty obvious how to get to it, 'cause we've all seen the social media icons, we all know what they look like. So my website lists all of these things. I would not send all of these things in an email. If I had to choose, I would choose my top three, which would be my regular website, my Facebook and my Instagram. Where people are gonna find the best content, in my opinion, would be those places. It's quick and easy to engage with. Unless somebody was asking for more in-depth information, I probably wouldn't send them to my blog right away, 'cause that's sort of, like, a lot of content to take in right away when you're first looking at something. So I would probably leave it at that, just my website. Super simple, make sure everything links from there. Do you all have a website where everything links from your website? (giggles) I think that you don't even know. You guys are, like, "Maybe." (audience giggles) I don't know either. I'm gonna go investigate. So that is a press package. It is a lot of stuff to put together. But I think that it's really important to do it ahead of time. I used to not do any of this. I didn't have any good head shots, I didn't have any good things to send people. But at the end of the day, it makes a very streamlined experience for you and for other people so that they're not asking over and over for all these different assets, so that you know where everything is all at once, and it makes you look so professional. It just does. I mean, if you put yourself in the mindset of, let's say, somebody who's choosing artists to be in a magazine, and you're sending in your package, they're going to immediately see your head shot, your other publications, your CV, your artist statement, and they're gonna be, like, "You know what? "Maybe I didn't need all this stuff, "but wow, this person is organized "they've got everything under control. "I would way rather work with that person "than somebody who's, like, 'Oh, what do you need? "'Here's a head shot' two days later. "'Here's my artist statement. "'Oh, I finally finished my website. "'I'll send that.' "I would not enjoy that at all." So your press package is a way of making you look very professional, making people have trust in you, which I think is vitally important. Okay. That was the press package. And all I can say is, above all else, that I hope you go home and make these documents now, so that you're not scrambling to do it later when the time comes that somebody asks for it. Do it now and I guarantee you, preparing yourself for those moments will attract the right people to you to make those moments happen. So (hands clap) go for it, press package.