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Caroline Ghetes: Eco-Friendly Packaging

By Mindy Charski


Ghetes large

© CAROLINE GHETES
A set of 4" x 6" prints in a large box and a small box containing a flash drive of images.



Caroline Ghetes
© Nirav

Photographers contact Caroline Ghetes nearly every day with questions, but they’re not asking for tips about shooting weddings, which she has been doing full time since 2007. They want to learn more about the materials she uses to package clients’ orders.

Those supplies are all eco-friendly —either fully bio-degradable, recycled, recyclable and/or reusable. Ghetes has been using this kind of packaging since October 2009, and images of the items that first appeared on her blog have spread around the Web—eventually making their way to Pinterest. Though she shares her vendor list on her blog today, for about a year she sold it to photographers to raise money for missionary trips.

Ghetes made the move to green materials after shooting an eco-friendly wedding. “There was something about the wedding that left a really good impression on me,” says Chicago-based Ghetes, who photographs nuptials around the country. “It was this feeling I got afterwards that I knew that’s the direction I wanted to go in.”

That inspiration hit at a time when Ghetes was beginning to charge more for wedding collections – today they average $6,500 – and she wanted to rebrand her business and upgrade the aesthetic of her delivery. “I feel the packaging is definitely the perfect finishing touch,” she says.


© Caroline Ghetes
A branded flash drive containing image files.

She spent hours a day for about a month researching options. When she found images of materials she liked, she played around with them in Photoshop to see how they would look together. She came up with a solution she still largely uses.

For many clients, for instance, she sends a package with a small box containing a branded flash drive and two larger boxes that hold a surprise gift of 4 x 6 prints of all the images on the drive. She uses filler that looks like raw wood shreds. She also has a larger hangtag that she stamps her logo on and a smaller one that reads “Photos.” She wraps the boxes with raffia ribbons mixed with red and white bakers twine. The materials generally cost less than $20 and preparing the package takes her about 10 minutes. Ghetes says she tries to be “mindful” of the environment in other ways, too. She likes to handle paperwork like contracts electronically and rarely prints—though she does include notes in the delivery about the reproduction release, recommendations for photo labs, and how to store the drive and prints. She also purchases her materials in bulk to reduce shipping. 

Interestingly, some clients never say a thing about the eco-friendliness of the packaging. They simply love the look.

And yet, the packaging has helped attract other clients, and though not her original intention, it has led to higher Web site traffic, too. Her site, www.carolineghetes.com, ranks high in Google searches when people type in keyword phrases like “eco-friendly wedding packaging.”

At least some of those searchers are likely photographers seeking ideas, and Ghetes says doing research is indeed the best way for shooters to craft their own eco-friendly packaging. “Go into it with an idea of what you want and keep trying to find stuff on Google and it will lead you to one thing to another to another until you finally find a collection,” she says. “And ask a lot of questions from people whose branding you like.”

To see more work by Caroline Ghetes visit www.carolineghetes.com.

[Side Bar]

Ghetes’s packaging vendor list

Bio-Degradable Photo/Proof Box
www.createforless.com
http://tinyurl.com/bqx4ufv

Bio-Degradable Mini Flash Drive Box
www.createforless.com
http://tinyurl.com/cwo5sc4

Natural Wood Excelsior Filler Shreds
www.nashvillewraps.com
http://tinyurl.com/bpgq46t

100% Biodegradable & Recyclable Raffia Ribbon
www.nashvillewraps.com
http://tinyurl.com/cmqjbed

Recycled Chipboard Hang Tags
www.etsy.com
http://tinyurl.com/9nst43l

Custom Rubber Hand Stamp
www.rubberstampchamp.com
http://tinyurl.com/4cso9s

Kraft Recycled Tissue
www.nashvillewraps.com
http://tinyurl.com/9h9ybkz

For those who still use dvd cases, you can get the Loktah Hemp DVD case here www.loktah.com/dvdcd/hemp

For flash drives, I buy mine in bulk for the year in different GB's from 

www.alibaba.com
http://tinyurl.com/9xqncye

100% Recycled White Shopper Bag
www.ricestudiosupplies.com
http://tinyurl.com/8gvz9nc  

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