Why We Professionally Photograph Our Games

20 April 2020 | 6 Comments

I can’t remember how it all started, but I’m pretty sure it was something like this: One of our shareholders pointed out that in photos of our games–all taken by me–the backgrounds looked like the shabby condo of a cat owner. Because, well, that’s where I took them.

I think it was around this time that one of our ambassadors, Kim Euker, sent me a few photos she had taken of our games. Turns out that Kim is a professional photographer, and I really liked her work, so I asked her if she would be willing to photograph an advance copy of our next game.

That game was Wingspan.

Kim’s photos couldn’t have come at a better time, as Wingspan has received a huge amount of press over the last year. While some publications (like the NY Times) take their own photos, many others do not, so it’s been incredibly helpful to send them a Dropbox link to Kim’s photos. They credit Kim and Stonemaier Games in their publications.

After experiencing that benefit–as well as access to such high-quality photos for general marketing and advertising–I permanently added Kim to our very short list of advance-copy recipients for most of them. I really appreciated her work on Tapestry:

Whenever I contact Kim about a new product, my requests are as follows (feel free to use this as a rough template for any photographer you work with):

  1. Please play the game first (in private, not at a game store). This will help to ensure that any photos that simulate gameplay will be accurate. You can even take those photos while you’re playing if you’d like. For all photos, please make sure the mats and board lay flat on the table.
  2. Take photos of each type of component separately. For each type of card and mat, fan them so a few are completely exposed (the fanning is to show how many there are). The components I think will most benefit from the photos are X, Y, and Z.
  3. Take a few other photos that show all of the components (including the box). These can either show the game set up or can just be staged to show a lot of components at once (or some combination of the two).

Kim’s latest project was Pie in the Sky, the recently announced My Little Scythe expansion. Here are a few of my favorites from that batch:

What if you don’t have a finished copy of the game, like for Kickstarter? I think having a great photographer is probably less important in those situations, though a talented photographer who understands the game will still be able to stage the photos well. So I think it may depend on your timeframe and accessibility of the photographer (someone local might be best).

While I still take photos of our games, I’m really happy that Kim is here to provide high quality, high resolution, professional-grade photos, especially for  media outlets that cover our games. You can contact Kim about her services at kiephoto@yahoo.com or on her website.

Have you worked with a photographer? What was your experience like, and are there any benefits I haven’t covered here?

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6 Comments on “Why We Professionally Photograph Our Games

      1. Excellent, thanks! I know that step is way down the road for me, but the artwork it’s particularly fun to think about.

  1. I didn’t appreciate the value of a professional photographer until my realtor had one take pictures of our condo when we were putting it up for sale. When I looked at our listing online, I literally did a double take of the photos. The rooms looked like they were professionally staged with brand new furniture and everything placed with a purpose. I only know they weren’t because all we did was tidy up a little. The photos looked amazing! (We ended up getting 3 offers the day we put it up for sale!)

  2. I do semi-pro photography myself, so I did take photos of our game in a photographic studio and elsewhere. If I am looking for leveling up the photos (as I think Stonemaier should), I would be looking for some like BoardgameShot (found on Facebook or Instagram). And there are others in this level of photography. I’ve seen him working for other publishers and the results are supebr.

  3. Back when I was toying with the idea for a kick starter, I was making things with Laser. I was incredibly lucky to meet someone in the coworking space i was working out of that did photography. He had his own whitebox, lights, everything. Was already doing work for someone crafting cosplay. His work came out 1000x better then anything I was doing, and his prices were very reasonable. Hight recommend getting someone used to doing product shots as it makes a world of difference.

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