Looking for a rep? Consider these tips first. You never know, they might just work.

Last year, I wrote a very short blog post for The Workbook about a phone call I received from a photographer.   In light of a flurry of recent calls, I thought it was a good time to resurrect the post and expand on it.

We receive calls and emails from emerging photographers looking for representation all the time.  I am always amazed at how many of them start off the conversation, “ Hi, my name is Joe Smith and I am looking for a rep.  Are you adding talent to your roster?”  If we are not adding talent at the time of the call, I immediately say no.   It is an easy conversation and over quickly.

I always think it is unfortunate that he didn’t say something like, “Hi.  I am Joe.  I am looking for someone I can share my work with.  I thought of you because I like the photographers you represent.  Do you ever review photographer’s work that you don’t represent?”  Indeed my answer would have varied based on how busy I was.  But, at the very least I would have suggested to him to send his website.  Who knows, I may have liked it and started to look out for his name and his work.

If you want to get our attention, we are sorry to say, it is long before the phone call.  Here are a few tips on how to reach out to a rep and get noticed.

First and foremost, before an agent can seriously consider you for their roster, there is one criteria that is a given.  Without it, a commercial photography agency will not be able to partner with you to increase your business. 

The criteria is this:  Your work must be marketable.

This is the most important step to getting through the door.  We are commercial photography agents that show your work to top creative agencies, photo editors and designers.  It is important that your work be creatively relevant. The majority of the time nude photos of your girlfriend are not commercially relevant.  An image that a client can easily recognize their product or brand in is an image that will get our attention.

Now, assuming that your work is commercially relevant, the following tips (in no particular order) will help you to begin a relationship with a rep and ultimately partner with one.

#1)  You need to be your own rep first.

There are 3 reasons that this is important:

The first is so that you understand what is required of a rep.  You need to know how hard it is to get an appointment or to get someone to check out your website.  And, you need to struggle a bit with the awkwardness of sales so that you can appreciate the effort required to build strong relationships.

The second reason is so that you hear first hand what people think about your work.  You need to recognize that if you ask 10 people about your work you will get 12 different answers.  Having these conversations on your own will help you to define what the common thread of your work is, see what isn’t working and ultimately develop a brand identity for your business.

The third reason is that it is no longer ok to think once you have a rep, you can cross marketing off of your to do list. Nowadays we require all of our photographers – no matter how successful they are – to get out there themselves to share what they have been up to lately.  No rep can replace the power of the photographer connection.

#2)  You need to be able to support yourself

We appreciate the photographer that comes to our group already working.  This not only shows that clients trust them but it gives us some breathing room.  It takes a long time to get a new photographer up and running.  We like to set expectations and say that from the date your images are first up on our website, it takes a full year to get your work around the country.  A photographer that already has some clients will be more patient with this process.

It is important to note that this source of work does not need to be commercial projects.  We have represented photographers that have connections in the retail, editorial, stock, retouching and fine art worlds that have kept them going while their commercial careers got started.

#3)  You need to have money to spend.

Any good rep will require you to market your work.  Marketing your work will cost money.  Source books, websites, portfolio renovations, direct mail and emailers all cost money.  If you cannot afford to market yourself on a high end level than it may still be time to market yourself.

#4)  You need to do your homework

Please do not send us a basic email asking us to represent you.  The web makes it very easy now to get to know an agent, see how they market, learn the type of work that appeals to them.  When you contact us, please show us that you did your homework and explain why we should look at your work and why you would be a good fit for us.  We cant expect someone to hire one of our photographers just because I sent them an email blast.  That would be nice but it rarely happens.  We need to do the necessary leg work for them to get to know our photographers first.

#5)  You need to be patient.

It will take time to find a rep that is the right fit for you. Timing is everything so spend your time wisely.  Know that any time invested in getting to know a rep and having a rep get to know you will pay off in dividends later.  Maybe they will represent you, maybe they will refer you to another rep.  Regardless of the outcome, if you are able to connect with a rep my guess is there will be advice, friendship and partnership that will help you all along the way.

It is rare when we make changes in our group but when we do, the first people we consider are the ones we have had a relationship with over the years.

#6)  Be creative

We still have promos from photographers that we thought were well done and stood out amongst the others.  While we are not representing them, we have referred them for a job or two.  When a solicitation stands out to us, we feel compelled to connect.  We try our hardest to respond to those promos that are well thought out, relevant and creative.  If someone spent the time to get to know us and target us specifically, we want to make sure they know they were heard.

#7) Be a good person

This really should be #1 or even up there with the Marketing Relevancy criteria.  And, it really should go without saying.  Be nice, be respectful and be a good person.  And, we hope you would expect the same from us.

#8)  You need to tailor your marketing to reps

We are neither art buyers nor an art directors.  We are neither clients nor photo editors.  We are a agents.  For us it is not about just about the image or even the story behind the image.  For us, it is all about the above points.  If you are going to reach out to us, please take into account all that we will take into account when considering you and your work.  Address all of our questions up front and sell us on why we should consider you.   Recognize that we may have a need in our group and offer a way to fill it.

We recently received a promo from a photographer that included a bullet point note that outlined everything he was doing for his marketing, who his current clients were and which clients he would like to work for some day.  This  letter showed us that he had a handle on how we worked.  His work conflicted with another one of our photographers and we are not currently looking BUT we still reached out and let him know we were impressed.  We now know his name and will keep an eye open for his work.  You just never know.

Have anything to add?  Please do email us.

Solving Mysteries with Christopher Grimes of CP+B. Who knew he would consider being a NYC bus driver in another life!

Anyone who knows art buyer Christopher Grimes of CP+B knows that he is one of a kind.  He is all about living life to it’s fullest and enjoying the people around him.  Everything about Christopher is fun and exciting.  He loves to surround himself with creative and inspiring people and is always looking for all things new and different.  If you ever get the pleasure to work with him, you will be impressed by his dedication to creative and his drive to be the very best he can.  I would be surprised if after it was all said and done if you hadn’t made a new friend.

So, it isn’t a surprise when we asked him to contribute to our Solving Mysteries Series where we ask creatives 5 industry related questions, that he asked us to change up the questions to make them more relevant to him.  “More fun!” were his exact words.  Thank you Christopher for reminding us to lighten it up a bit.

Here are the questions we asked him and he wonderful answers. Thank you!

•  Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from magazines (food, lifestyle, design, travel), design websites, blogs, nature and my friends. I love getting well-designed, printed promotions. I keep them as reference for personal and work inspiration.

•  What was the craziest promo you ever got?

Although not that crazy, I once received an umbrella. The photographer who sent it always stays at the top of my mind when looking for a certain style. Art producers love getting things like wood matches, blank note cards and water bottles. These branded items remind us of the agent or photographer who sent it, AND it serves a purpose.

•  What is the best part of your job?

Building relationships. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to work with awesome/smart/brilliant/hard-working/fun creatives, account peeps, photographers, agents, producers and THE BEST Art Production team on the planet. What’s even better is when they become personal friends. It makes my job feel like my personal life.

•  If you left advertising, what would be your dream job?

My dream job would be volunteering. I’ve always wanted to dedicate my life to helping others. I’m most passionate about guide dogs, veterans and homelessness. I’ve also always wanted to be a NYC bus driver.

•  If you got three wishes that had to do with your job, what would they be?

This is a difficult one. I could wish for more time or money on a project, but I like the challenges of making it work with what I’m given. So that said…1. Summer Fridays 2. my choice of producer on every project (you know who you are) and 3. a CP+B office in Minneapolis (yo MPLS!!).  

 If you have ideas for other questions, please do let us know. We would be happy to consider them for our Solving Mysteries series.

A week of interviews. Alison McCreery of POP blog keeps the questions coming.

© Kevin Twomey - http://www.kevintwomey.com

Alison McCreery of Photographers on Photography blog reached out to me after my Dear Art Buyer letter in the hopes that I would provide her with an interview about my thoughts on marketing and repping.  I was familiar with her blog and thought her recent interviews were very informative.  I appreciate how she asks questions that get people thinking so I was more than happy to oblige.

Below are the questions that she asked me as well as the link to her blog to read the answers.

And, if you actually read through the whole thing, be sure to keeping reading because her interview with David Jay of the Scar Project is powerful to say the least.


Here are the questions:

1)  You’ve been a rep for 15 years. What is your background and what do you enjoy about being a rep?

2)  How important is it that your photographers market themselves in addition to your efforts?

3)  How often is video included in the brief and are you encouraging all your photographers to build a motion portfolio?

4)  I want to ask you about your blog. It’s the only rep blog that is used to foster conversations and an openness between art buyers and reps. You also feature in-depth discussions by your photographers about the stories behind their personal and commercial projects. It stands alone as a much appreciated resource. What was your inspiration for taking this approach and what feedback have you gotten?

5)  Many of the ways in which you run your agency are about furthering the conversation. How has this impacted the relationships you have with art buyers and the dialogues between your photographers and agencies and clients?

6)  With blogging and an interest in personal work, there is a deeper understanding of the photographer and their creative process. Have art buyer’s expectations changed as a result? And has this had an effect on the way photographers contribute to the creative process? And are photographers producing different work?

7) You represent nine photographers, several with overlapping specialties but all with differing styles. What was the strategy behind building your roster?

8) The Specialty section on your site is an innovative way of presenting your photographers. Are art buyers finding this helpful?

9) You’ve been a rep for 15 years, how have you adapted to the challenges of tighter budgets and evolved how you work with clients and agencies?

10) There are a lot of agencies and many talented photographers based in San Francisco. What percentage of the jobs you bid on are for out of town agencies and for local agencies?

11)  What is a recent project that one of your photographers shot for a Bay Area agency?

In his own words, Kevin Twomey wonders about full body scanners, firewalls and bomb detectors.

© Kevin Twomey - http://www.kevintwomey.com

I sympathize with photographers when they say they never feel like they have enough time to shoot for themselves.  There are always tests to plan, website updates to make, direct mail cards to print and calls to place.  Knowing that,  I am always extra impressed when a photographer shares with me something unexpected for them.  It tells me they pushed aside their to do lists and found the time to shoot something just for themselves.  Often times, that is worth so much more than another item crossed off of the list.  Here is a recent share from Kevin Twomey when he spent the day in the Marin Headlands.

“Just on the the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, opposite San Francisco, lay the Marin Headlands.  It is a place where you can get to an elevation above the bridge towers to take in the beautiful panoramic views of San Francisco Bay.
Blended into the scenery, bunkers and batteries dot the landscape, revealing its military history of protecting the Pacific coast from attack.

While photographing one of the batteries recently, I could not help but think about the words “Homeland Security” and how, 70 years ago, it was represented by these massive concrete structures that housed guns that fired 25 miles out into the Pacific Ocean.  A far cry from today’s full-body scanners, firewalls and bomb detectors.”

My husband wants me to retract my last headline…..Here is a new one. “My husband says I have a great voice for radio. Let’s see if he is right. ” Sorry John. :)

© Ann Elliott Cutting - http://www.cutting.com

A few weeks back, I was asked to be a guest on One Hour Photo, a talk radio show in Atlanta on Armada FM.   It is hosted by photographer Anderson Smith and co-hosted by Jillian Hayes.  It was their 6th broadcast in what is shaping up to be a fantastic new voice for the photography industry.  Anderson hopes to make this a place for our industry to share ideas and stories.  Some of his recent guests included Melissa Rodwell of Fstoppers and Matt Bailey of Livebooks fame.  I was honored to be asked and can’t wait to hear what they broadcast next.

Here are just some of the topics we covered:

1)  Relationship between photographer and rep and art buyer

2) Road blocks between photographers and agencies

3) Advice on how to find a rep

4)  How important is the portfolio nowadays?

5)  How are our portfolios changing in our group?

6)  how I became a rep

**Link here for the full podcast of the interview.**

If you are curious about other questions not posted here please do email me.

Dear A Photo Editor. Thanks for the laugh.

© Hunter Freeman – http://www.hunterfreeman.com

An hysterical post by A Photo Editor.  It is nice to know that we can all see the humor in what we do!

” What started as friendly banter when photography agent Heather Elder wrote an open letter to art buyers with several responding back and
everyone agreeing and asking for open and honest dialogue between the two, has suddenly taken a turn for the worse this morning when a
senior art buyer at DHPH-NY/LA declared “I’m tired of this shit, you people work for me” then announced a new policy called the “silent bid
off.” Now up to 20 photographers will be asked to submit silent bids on all jobs. The job will be awarded to the lowest bid or picked based
on “arbitrary rules we’ve made that you have no idea about.” Additionally, an a la carte menu will allow agents to purchase more
information about a job (e.g. budget, creative call, who you’re bidding against) that may or may not give you an edge in the bid off
and could potentially mean you’re paying them if you win.

Senior agent David Chartikoff from Creative Photographers Agency fired back with new surcharges that will be added to all jobs. Photographers will have at their discretion the ability to charge thousands of
dollars in “dealing with agency/client buffoon charges.” The DWACB charges include additional surcharges for people trying to eat and
drink the expense budget in a single evening and people standing around set acting like they’re on “spring break” instead of working.
He hinted at some type of hangover fine but was initially unsure if that might backfire on some of his well known photographers who “work
better” when everything is a bit blurry in the morning.

Another art buyer jumped into the fray and instituted a new portfolio show policy inspired by the pac-man video game. Agents must schlep 400 lbs of portfolios, snacks and drinks throughout the agency and try to
find as many creatives as they can in an allotted time limit. Each creative you find gives you a small time bonus that you can use to
show a portfolio or go find another creative. When found you can ply them with snacks and drinks, but if it’s not something they like (e.g.
they’re allergic to an item) they get to smear frosting on the prints of the book you were trying to show them. Once time runs out all the
creatives convene in a conference room for a meeting and you must exit the building immediately. Obstacles placed throughout the building
(e.g. life size sponge bob squarepants) will prevent agents from using any mechanical aids in this new pac-agent challenge.

Finally the Agents Association of America made a surprise announcement and revealed a new email marketing tool they’ve been working on called the “Email Blast Master.” The EBM is capable of locking up a computer and rendering it useless until the email is read and the link to the website clicked on. In addition to locking up the computer anyone not expressing enthusiasm at the invitation to “check out new work” will immediately have their personal email blasted to all flickr users with the headline “Looking For Fresh New Photographers To Work With.”

This was all happening in a secret forum where agents and art buyers discuss jobs, so “untouchables” (photographers without agents) cannot
land them, but someone broke in and opened the thing up to the pubic.Go check it out (here [1]) before they close it again.”


Looking for some eye candy today? Ann Elliott Cutting delivers in blue and red.

© Ann Elliott Cutting - http://www.cutting.com

Ann Elliott Cutting has a knack for everything conceptual so when I asked her to send me something  visual for the blog I wasn’t surprised when she sent me these images.  None of them were shot together nor were they for the same project.  This is just Ann pairing images that go well together.  That common thread that runs through all of her imagery sure does runs deep with her.