Case Study: Kainaz Amaria


Kainaz Amaria needed help focusing her website and print portfolio edits to better convey the kind of work she wants to be known for. We talked about her style and where she wants to see her business go in the next couple of years. Then we got to work re-editing all of her images. We created new, more streamlined galleries on her site and built a print portfolio that reflected the changes.

After we completed the editing, we worked on print promo concepts. We knew we wanted to be able to show a variety of images and make a great first impression. Originally, we had a stack of 6 promo cards in a custom slip case printed in India. Unfortunately, the quality of the printing wasn't up to par and we had to start over. San Diego-based Modern Postcard came to the rescue with a custom printing solution that worked with Kainaz's budget. In the end, we modified the original idea to create one card that folds out. The card is 6x9 inches when folded, and folds out to 6x27 inches. Each panel is perforated so that clients can keep just one image if they want to.

Kainaz included a personal letter of introduction and her signature, and hand addressed all of her envelopes. I think it lends a very personal touch.


Photo Editor Maggie Soladay's Self-Promo Picks

Maggie Soladay takes photos of her favorite promos. Here's what she had to say about last Monday's batch:

The planets aligned Monday to deliver to me one of the tightest batches of photographer postcard promos in a while. I only received 6 postcards, but all 6 photographers made it onto my new photographer list. What I loved about the cards was the love the photographers showed for people and portraiture.

Every one of the photographers sent me postcards that alluded well to the work I was to see on their sites.  Most exceeded my expectations.  I laughed, entertained co-workers, and hung some of these on my wall (rather than send them right into the recycle bin). This batch of postcards were all beautiful, technically proficient, and showed originality.  I must say they look pretty good all together somehow too!

Maggie Soloday's Favorite Promos from Week of April 19, 2011

Maggie Soloday's Favorite Promos from Week of April 19, 2011

Jayne Wexler from NYC
Sara Rubenstein from Minneapolis, MN
Jeff Singer from San Francisco, CA
Bryan Regan from Raliegh, NC
Jenn Ackerman + Tim Gruber from Minneapolis, MN
Joshua Paul from NYC

Photo editor Maggie Soladay photographs the snail mail postcard promos that arrive each week (unedited) and posts them on Twitter @maggiesoladay.  She thinks photographers benefit by seeing what photo editors see and are hopefully inspired. She is the photography editor at ALM for The American Lawyer Magazine (the RollingStone of the legal world) and Corporate Counsel Magazine.

Self-Promo Round Table - Part 2 of 3

Today's self-promo round table panelists are from the entertainment industry:

If you missed yesterday's post from the editorial/magazine world, please check it out.

Wednesday I'll post feedback from ad agency creatives.

Leah Overstreet, Photography Director, Spike TV

I work at a guy’s network, so its great when promos come in that are geared toward the type of work we are doing. I make sure and hold onto these for reference for upcoming shoots that we have. Its very important to make sure and tailor your work towards your client and the type of work they are doing.

I receive so many emails each day and lots of times email promos get lost in the shuffle. If you send me a promo through the mail, I am 10 times more likely to see it and hold onto it, then an email.



I love this promo by Scott McDermott because it is not a pretty portrait. It shows all of the grit and imperfections in the skin, face, and hands. The contrast of the black and white backgrounds really make it stand out. It's a 6 x 8.5" card and is printed on thicker stock paper.

I also really like a recent promo I received from EJ Camp. It is 6x8.5. This promo is made of a thicker stock paper, with a photo finish. Its a great advertising shot and right in line with the work that we do. It made me want to look at her website and see more of what she does. I usually think that one or two images per promo card should be the max, however I think this is a good example of a series that works well using more images.



Put your strongest work on your promo that will drive the potential client to your site.

Maggie Fost, Art Director, Merge Records

I am more likely to keep a single postcard than anything more elaborate because if it's an inspiring image or something that just makes me smile, I'll pin it up on my bulletin board, which spans a full wall of my office and is filled with all kinds of images and objects. That said, an email that is specifically written to me (rather than crafted for mass distribution) is probably the most compelling kind of promotion. Knowing that someone is eager to work with Merge makes me more likely to file their email in my "photographers" folder than someone sending images of their recent work every quarter. If they include their location in the subject line, it's easier for me to find when I go back looking for a photographer in a certain city or region.

Another way I learn about photographers is by asking someone whose business it is to be in the know, like Jasmine (this is the straight dope - she did not ask me to say this!) For a recent project, I needed an L.A.-based photographer who had a sun-drenched dreamy style. Rather than googling away or sifting through my e-archives, I sent a quick email to Jasmine and she pointed me directly to the perfect person. It turns out this photographer had sent me promos in the past, but I ignored them because they weren't relevant to my needs at the time.

I also learn of photographers through our bands. If they want to work with someone specific for promotional shots or an album cover, we almost always honor that. If I like the results, we are likely to use that photographer again, so making connections with the subjects photographers are interested in shooting is just as important as marketing to the client.

Gail Marowitz, Creative Director, Roadrunner Records

The promos that I tend to keep are of two types:

The first promo has an image that directly speaks to what I do and my needs as a creative director for a Rock Music record label. It can have a portrait of a band in an interesting location, it can have a musician that looks comfortable and that properly telegraphs the sensibility of the recording artist. It can also be a still life or an illustrated photo collage that is dark, edgy and well executed.

The other promos that I keep are those of the extremely well designed nature. They have beautiful typography, interesting paper selection and are conceptually solid. These are the promos that assure me that the photographer has a good eye and cares about his/her work from concept to final output.

I do have pet peeves.

  • Do a little homework before blindly sending promos. If you send me still lifes of lipstick and flowers or women doing yoga, or children or beautiful fashion models, I will delete and/or throw away and not go to your website. I work for a Rock/Heavy Metal label. Try to send me appropriate work for what I do.

  • If you still go the snail mail route, make sure your promo is well designed and printed well.

  • Don't send me an email promo every week. I know there is a way for you to check if I found your promo interesting enough to look at your website. If I haven't checked your site, and you keep sending me promos (I receive approximately 20 of them a DAY), I will get annoyed. You don't want that.

What I appreciate the MOST, is when I meet a photographer who is talented, look at their book, explain my needs and in the following week or two, they have put together and sent me a body of work that captures the essence of what we talked about in our meeting.

Simon Keeping, Art Director, Kraken Opus

I receive a fair few printed promos from photographers. Its always nice to look at but in terms of referring back to them later I'm not sure I actually do. In the course of the publishing projects I work on there's alot of paper on my desk, flatplans, editorial plans, proofs, print samples etc etc so I normally lose them within that pile of paper or failing that it gets 'filed' somewhere safe which I then forget about.

I much prefer e-promo's which are easily forwarded to editors (when it comes to commissioning), other team members or even fellow designers and most of which I think represent photographers better than a printed flyer as the quality of the images is never compromised by poor printing.

One thing I find very irritating is when I take the time to click through to a site to check out a photographers work it can be at times a battle to just look at the images. A word of advice, If you direct me to your site, I don't want to see loads of flash animation and over designed navigation, I want to see the quality of your work. Keep your site clean and functional other wise people will just get frustrated and give up trying to view your work. Remember what the function of your site is: a tool for art directors (very busy people) to see your photography. I'd rather see the worlds most basic website which allowed me to quickly view your work and get a feel for your style (with easy to find up-to-date contact details) than an all singing, all dancing web extravaganza. Remember your site is often the first point of contact with clients, don't miss out on work because of it!

Contributor Bios

Gail Marowitz has been art directing and designing for the music business for nearly twenty years. She has worked for various labels including Tommy Boy Records, the Imago Recording Company, Wind-Up Records and Columbia Records where she was the Design Director for ten years collaborating with artists such as James Taylor, Patti Smith and Bette Midler. In 2006, she won a Grammy® Award for "Best Recording Package" for Aimee Mann's "The Forgotten Arm" and was nominated in the same category again in 2008 for Mann's latest release "@#%&*! Smilers". Her work has been selected for Print Magazine's Regional Design Annual and she was a recipient of a Silver Telly Award in 2008. Currently, she is the Creative Director at Roadrunner Records, a label whose stock in trade is mostly hard rock and heavy metal. You can see her personal work at

Maggie Fost is the Art Director at Merge Records, an independent record label in Durham, North Carolina.

Leah Overstreet began her career photographing for the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC. After moving to New York she worked in the photo departments of GQ, Vogue, and Men’s Journal Magazines. Leah is currently the photo director for Spike TV/TV Land and a freelance photographer.

Simon Keeping is a freelance art director, currently working with Kraken Opus who specialize in high end, limited edition books. He has recently art directed 5 titles for such luminaries as Ferrari, Deigo Maradona and Tottenham Hotspur. Influenced by music, design, illustration, fashion, photography and reading too many skateboard magazines as a teenager, he describes his style of work as ‘clean, stylish and bold’.