Photography: Kelly Bates
When we first heard about Moo cards, we got pretty excited. They were funky and neat, and they provided a useful bridge between the practical marketing power of business cards and the creativity that all photographers want to inject into their work.
It seems that we weren’t the only ones who felt that Moo were onto a good thing. The company appears to have been going from strength to strength, bringing out all sorts of new products, linking up with sites like Flickr, Facebook and Vox, and — most important of all — winning the appreciation of photographers everywhere.
The most popular use of Moo for photographers appears to be turning minicards into business cards. That makes sense. The cards’ miniature size means that they stand out and get noticed while the ability to put images on the front means that photographers can use them to spread their images around easily.
“Not only are they a great conversation starter, but they stand out amongst the sea of typical business cards that everyone and their mother seem to have these days,” says Matt Ensminger, who hands them out to potential clients, friends, family and other image-makers. “Not only do they offer you a chance to carry a miniature portfolio with you, they set you apart and create a lasting first impression.”
While everyone seems to agree that it’s the miniature size that helps to attract attention — a decision inspired in part by the desire to fit as many cards as possible onto one printed sheet — clearly, it’s what’s on the card that matters most.
So what can you do to make sure that your Moo cards are taken, treasured… and acted on?
Pictures on the Front, Text on the Back
It helps to use a number of different photos rather than just one so that takers can choose the image they like the most (as opposed to the picture that you like the most.) Interestingly though, perhaps the most important thing you can do is pay at least as much attention to the back of the cards as you do to the front.
“Make sure you lay out the back of your cards properly,” suggests Kelly Bates, a hobby photographer who has been shooting for four years and has sold a couple of images in that time. “Use your real full name, not your screen name. Make sure the people you give them out to have a way to contact you, whether it’s an email address or your phone number.”
Kelly, in fact, goes a little further and on her current set of Moo cards includes her Flickr address to bring people into her 100 Strangers project.
Giving Away your Art
That’s an approach that Rei Dishon, an Israel artist, used to great effect recently at an exhibition in the town of Biella in Italy, where he had completed a residency. Calling his show “The Big Picture” and using a budget of just 100 Euros, he printed 600 Moo cards depicting various images of the town, and hung them from the ceiling of the gallery.
The idea was to give the residents of the town a new perspective on their territory — and a novel approach to art.
Photography: Rei Dishon
“Moo was a nice unfamiliar, medium that delivered the most impact for a low budget,” Rei told us. “I could have blown up a couple of images but I wanted to create something for the locals. They’re not rich and they know art the traditional way — and I wanted to share.”
The sharing came with an unusual twist. Visitors to the gallery were able to enjoy the images they saw but they were also free to take any pictures they liked with them. That came as a surprise to many, and few took cards unless Rei happened to be in the gallery reminding them that they could do so. In the end, a third of his exhibition was left in the homes of the local people for which it had been intended.
All of the cards though carried a link to the exhibition’s Flickr page where everyone could see all of the pictures… including the images that had already been moved to fridge doors, wallets and noticeboards.
That’s an approach that any photographer could replicate, and it makes a neat link between physical cards that are shared and given out once, and a permanent portfolio that everyone can enjoy.
Moo cards might be small — a strength in itself — but used carefully, they can have a pretty powerful effect.