A long time ago a well-known photographer told me, “The Rolodex is powerful, so save all business cards, you’ll never know when you’ll need them.” Well I don’t own a Rolodex and probably should, as I’ve got thousands of business cards stashed in every nook and cranny and as I skim through these business cards, I find common, layout-design flaws that almost make me want to trash half of them. 

In today’s world of make-your-own business cards-on-line with companies like Vistaprint.com and others, people load up graphics, text, etc. and everyone now is a graphic designer making their own cards, letterhead, promo pieces, etc, when in fact, most people are better singers than graphic designers. Some business cards are so laughable that I can’t even remember who handed them to me, though I remember the faces to the ones that are simple and aesthetically-pleasing cards.

As an example, I’ve seen many business cards with multiple fonts on the front side of the card alone, the rule is never more than two-different fonts and if the font is named after a city, don’t use it. Not sure what I mean, then first learn the difference between serif and sanserif then study some graphic design books and that’s only if you know what a Rolodex is, as I’m sure it’s becoming a thing of the past too.

My other favorite (sarcastically speaking) business cards, especially from photographers, are cards with tiny, photo  thumbnails, like a dozen or so, on the back of the card. If you must use photos on your card, make it a strong one for the back and possibly the front—the rule is KIS, keep it simple. Also make sure that the font color on that side of the card comes from a color in the image itself, this is an old press trick when running headlines for a story, sample a color that pops from the image in the story and use that color for the text.

Another pet peeve of mine are business cards with photographers who give themselves titles besides photographer. I’ve seen President, CEO, Executive, Principal, Director, Producer, Manager and the list goes on. I only have one simple question, are you a photographer or not? We can all be a president of anything, who cares? Now if you are in fact the CEO/President of General Motors, then I can understand your title on your card, but seriously photographers, models and for that matter professional photographers aren’t impressed that you are the president of your own, one-employee photography studio. In fact, if anything, you are the Head Photographer and a sole proprietor, not the CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, etc.

On another note, all business cards should have your name, phone number, email address and physical business address. Obviously if you’re a model, no physical business address and if you place your phone number on your card, scrutinize any card you hand out to anyone.

I know many successful people, as I teach private photography instruction to many of them, so I’ve seen and collected cards from billionaires to truck drivers and it seems the more money people make, the more prominent, the more successful, the less they put on their business cards—most are beige in color with black text, no photos, their email address and a phone number or two, that’s it—plain Jane.

Well it is the digital age and I rely more on email and my cell phone than business cards, though I’ve never taken the time to load up addresses and phone numbers with email contacts—heck, I’m still trying to load them in my phone.

It sure would be cool if everyone had an electronic, plastic business card you carried in your wallet, and then you just swiped your phone over it and it stored all the information needed and you could add your notes at that time about the person then easily transfer it to your home computer. Similar to I-Tunes with your I-Phone and I-Pod, just sync your phone to your I-Dex, now that would be cool. In today’s digital world of technology, I’m sure it’s out there, I’ve just been too damn busy going through business cards in my office since I don’t own a Rolodex—and if I did own a Rolodex, it would make my business cards not only more organized, but it would be powerful.  All the best, rg sends!