Insurance photography is pretty repetitive, intensely detailed and not highly lucrative. Utilitarian but not sexy. Here’s how to easily give the owner something extra to show off his or her collection with a very modest investment of your professional time and effort.
Personal collections will never go out of style! People are totally attached to their collectibles, and would proudly share their fun if they had an exciting presentation, not just dull insurance pictures. Once collections reach museum proportions – we all know people who have them – the owners realize they need to insure against loss or damage, and to value their collectibles for eventual legacy or sale. Household insurance underwriters usually require visual documentation as well as purchase receipts, appraisals and provenance. Many times an appraiser wants a good photograph for reference, after the hands on inspection, in order to fully research and substantiate his evaluation.
Of course you have to start with quality photography. Fortunately there are only a few tricks.
- closeup views, several views and or detail shots, if an object has a back and front
- sculptural lighting to show details and three dimensions, without being overly contrasty
- size and scale comparisons, such as grouping of like objects
- accurate color and exposure, often showing a standard color rendition chart
- excellent sharpness front to back
- plain or appropriate background
- accurate rendition of flaws or damage
- complete sets of objects, such as an entire silver service, not just a single place setting
OK so now you have a library of really nice images, but the fun factor is distinctly absent. The bean counters are happy, but your real client, the collection owner, has been left out. Enter the Animoto utility to make you a hero.
My case study is an elderly lady who had a doll collection spanning 50 years. Not extremely valuable antiques, but collectibles with a highly developed set of memories and colorful emotions attached to her own childhood and those of her daughter and granddaughter.
Once the images of the dolls, the tiny dresses, hats, doll house furniture and especially the tiny china cups and saucers were photographed, I sharpened and sized the images suitable for Animoto. I added some antique vignettes and borders suitable to the era of the dolls, and sequenced images for a meaningful story. I use the original Animoto styling; with interesting subjects like these, canned backgrounds are superfluous or even undesirable. In this case it decided it would be good to add titling to explain the images, particularly the doll traveling trunk at the end that represented the owner’s real and imaginary journeys.
Music was the next concern. Every time I go to the Animoto utility they seem to have added new copyright free choices. I keep an ever burgeoning list of favorite selections, hoping to find uses for them all. It was no problem at all to find music that was a bit romantic, and bit wistful, a bit yesteryear.
With such modest additional effort and the genius of Animoto, I had a totally fun presentation to delight my client and her family – easily sharable and memorable – which is what collecting is all about.