The Number One Camera Bag Staple

The Number One Camera Bag Staple

We all have a different bag setup. Some prefer to travel light and mobile while others go for a more heavy duty option. Some people want a stylish option that shows off some personal flair while others just want something practical. We each like a different layout and store our gear and accessories in a different way or in a different pocket. In spite of our different preferences when it comes to our camera bags, there is one universal truth. One item that, regardless of your specialty, you positively need to have somewhere in your bag. You must keep a few up to date business cards in your bag at all times.I realize that in this day and age it's easy to think of the business card as a blast from the past. Something more applicable to a corporate industry (I can't help but think of the business card scene from American Psycho). This couldn't be further from the truth though, your business card is as relevant as ever. It's your opportunity to place a physical connection to your business, your work, and your name in someone's hands. Never underestimate the value of keeping your business cards in your gear bag. 

I'm not here to talk card design, that's a very personal choice. You can design your card in any way that you choose and select from any number of different card printing companies. You can create something personal, sleek, sexy, and something tangible that carries your name. As long as your card has the basic information like your name and how to contact you the rest of the design choices are yours to freely make. If you're looking for a new design, there are a plethora of sites and businesses ready to help you create your card; JukeBox, GotPrint, MOO, VistaPrint, and RockDesign among many others. 

Having some cards stored in your camera bag is almost as important as having your camera itself with you. Keep some in the bag, keep one or two in your wallet, and keep one in your car. Always have access to a business card when you're out and about. You never know what the day may bring. The last thing you want as a professional is to find yourself in a situation where someone is inquiring about what you do only to find yourself explaining that you forgot your card at home. The card is a connection to your name and to your work. 

Your business card is an opportunity to network in any situation. It's an opportunity to slow down our fast-paced lives and create a conversation about our passions. Leave a comment down below with your thoughts on the subject. Do you have a success story that started with the exchange of your card? Maybe you have a story you're kicking yourself in the butt over because you didn't have a card when you needed one. How about design choices? Does card stock and font selection get you going?

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21 Comments

Brian Pernicone's picture

Sooo good. Best business cards I've ever created. They truly stand out.

Dan Rowe's picture

Of course, every single business is different. I photograph high school seniors almost exclusively and haven't had business cards for several years. I would argue that a strong mobile accessible portfolio and a balanced social media presence is quite a bit more valuable than a business card. When I decided against designing new ones years ago, it was based on the fact that none of my out of industry friends that I asked actually kept business cards then they were given. None had a roll-a-dex, a drawer with cards, or even any they kept in their wallets. All of the 5 or 6 friends I asked admitted that they would go to FB to find people they were connected too when contact was needed. Now there is value in being the exception to any trend, I wouldn't argue against that, but I strongly disagree that a business card is an important thing to carry at all times. Again, at least in my photography genre.

Anonymous's picture

"none of my out of industry friends that I asked actually kept business cards then they were given. None had a roll-a-dex, a drawer with cards, or even any they kept in their wallets. All of the 5 or 6 friends I asked admitted that they would go to FB to find people they were connected too when contact was needed. Now there is value in being the exception to any trend, I wouldn't argue against that, but I strongly disagree that a business card is an important thing to carry at all times. "

Pretty much this.

Evan Kane's picture

Thanks for the comment Dan, great perspective on a particular field of photography!

Brian Pernicone's picture

Mobile portfolio and social media presence are, of course, necessary parts of a business profile. But getting people to take the step from a conversation to actually visiting your site or social media pages is the trick.

For someone like me, with a last name that is apparently difficult for some people to spell or remember, the business card - with my website, social media pages, email, phone, etc., all easily accessible - is a fantastic (and inexpensive) way to make sure that person I met while I was shooting goes home and actually looks me up. Putting out a few dollars to make sure I have a card on hand when someone says, "Spell that again?" is money well spent.

The cost of printing a thousand business cards, which can last a year or two, is made up pretty quickly by the sales they can generate.

Given the current social media climate, business cards can seem anachronistic but the reason some still work, and others never did, is design. You have to give potential clients a reason to keep your card. Obviously, for photography you should have various cards representing the genres you shoot but the images need to be something potential clients want to keep because that's what they want their photos to look like. Kinda like a pinterest image they can carry around with them. As such, it has to be spectacular! Furthermore, if you do High School Seniors photos, for example, you should have cards showcasing male, female and various races. A wonderful photo of a white girl just won't cut it for a young man or a black woman. JMO

Kenneth Hammes's picture

I have cards from Moo that feature 1 of 4 of my favorite/popular images that showcase my style. Depending on who YOU are, they can either be an asset or an unnecessary expense. I am just starting out and I have already had some responses from folks through my BCs. ymmv
These are the images from the backs of my cards.

Evan Kane's picture

Right on Kenneth, that's awesome :D

Kenneth Hammes's picture

Thanks!

Kirk Darling's picture

One thing I like about MOO is that you can order high quality cards of a variety of different images in the same order.

michael buehrle's picture

business cards are so cheap these days that there is no reason not to have one. if it brings you even 1 job then they have more than paid for themselves. i come from a nightclub background so club flyers were always important to get the word out about upcoming events. i designed my own and have the club flyer places print them. cheap for great quality, clubflyers.com is who i have worked with for probably 20 years. here is my take on why i do them, i am talking to someone at an event and i hand them a card. after a full day of them talking to the crown what are the odds that they remember your name ? 100% if they still have your card. i get work all the time from people that i have given my card to.

Evan Kane's picture

Thanks for the comment Michael. As with most things, prices vary on a number of different factors. There are of course high volume printers that offer thousands of cards at a very inexpensive price and you also have "premium" or "luxury" styles available too (including metal and wood options among others) that can drive the price per card up too.

It all depends on what you're looking for in a business card I think. Expensive is not necessarily better and cheaper is not always worse, it depends on the company and your card itself.

michael buehrle's picture

very true. my guys have many diff "cheap to expensive" card stock options. i always liked middle of the road.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Great article Evan!

I have been full time freelance for almost six months and I finally designed and printed my own business cards. There's just something special about having that card in your hand.

Evan Kane's picture

Thanks Chris. I agree with you, once you actually have a physical card in your hand it's pretty satisfying :D

Dan Cantero's picture

I guess it really depends on the genre that you work in as well as the market you operate in. For myself I couldn't agree more. I can't count the number of times I've been shooting events and have had people walk up to me and ask "have you got a card?". I've gotten a significant number of jobs this way. In my opinion any opportunity to market yourself should be taken. Just my opinion though. :-)

Thanks for the article Evan and a happy new year to yourself and everyone on here,

Evan Kane's picture

Thanks Dan, happy new year to you as well!

I'm not into photography for the business, but I always have cards with me. I have them stuck in various bags and pockets. I travel abroad frequently and enjoy taking street portraits of other tourists as well as of locals. Most of them are photogenic women, I must admit, and I choose not to ask for their contact details. Instead I give them a card, which gives the URL of my online portfolio, which I show briefly on my mobile phone at the time I ask whether I might take their picture so that they have an idea of my previous portraits, and it's where they'll also find their finished picture later. The card gives my own contact details (with the wording in multiple languages), so if someone is interested in getting their portrait they can always check in with me on their own accord.

Before I had cards made, giving or exchanging information was generally rather cumbersome and hit-or-miss, and I probably came across as more of a GWAC. At this point I'd say 90% of the folks I photograph eventually contact me because they like the results (none are stellar, but I'm getting better).

Spike S's picture

I used to carry business cards (Moo) and give them out when asked or when I thought it was useful. What I found is that virtually nobody contacted me from the business card or remembered anything except the image, not even my name. However, some did want me to do work, they just stuck the card in their wallet, lost it or threw it out eventually, and then found me through a mutual acquaintance or even ran into me. What I have now is a laminated home printed card and I have them take a photo of it with their phone. Not one person has said "I want a physical card" and people contact me regularly from what they have on their phone. Much, much better, at least for me.

Adam Blake's picture

I have (more or less) a digital business card with all my contact info information, a great picture and social links and website. I usually just text or email it to the person I'm talking too. Save it as a picture and then just send it to whoever needs it. If they don't have a phone just send it to their email. If they don't have a cell phone or email then lets be honest, they're not going to be getting back in touch.