Solving Mysteries with freelance art buyer Andrea Flaherty

© Kevin Twomey -

Andrea Flaherty  gives freelance a good name.  Not only is she a freelance art buyer, but a freelance producer and project manager as well.   She has partnered with  clients such as Venebles Bell & Partners, MRM Worldwide and Pottery Barn to name a few.  And, her client list is long having worked on some creative favorites such as Audi of America, HBO and Microsoft.  Knowing her experience, we were honored that she contributed to our Solving Mysteries series.  Thank you Andrea

How do you search for photography nowadays?  I keep a fairly extensive ‘library’ of bookmarked websites that’s organized by city and specialty. I typically search there first and then review photographers on photography agent’s websites.  I also post on an art producer’s online forum if I am having difficulty sourcing a really specific style. It’s a great resource.

Where do you find inspiration?  I enjoy reading Communication Arts  and seeing the types of photography ads that are being produced around the globe.  And, starting this year, I will be attending student shows at Academy of Art College and CCA as well.  It’s a good way to find up and coming talent.

Which outside events do you find most useful for finding photographers?  When I worked as a full-time employee at ad agencies, I would attend the portfolio shows.  As a freelancer I attend – APA shows or any type of portfolio show or social event that brings together art buyers and photographers together.

 What are you reading online?  APA Forums,, Ads of the World,, various photography representative blogs including Heather Elder Represents (wink wink).

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?   I always think it’s good when a photographer accompanies his/her rep to agency portfolio shows.  The art directors and other creatives viewing the portfolios really enjoy speaking with the artists about their work. It’s a good way for the photographer to make a connection with the people at the agency that play a big part in selecting photographers.

Currently I work freelance, so I am not doing portfolio shows or on the receiving end of photographer’s and agent’s marketing efforts.  I was at an APA event where a local photographer did a presentation on himself and his work.  I believe he started booking the presentation at ad agencies in lieu of a portfolio show.  It’s a different way to showcase his work and the agencies to get to know him better.

What do you wish photographers would try harder not to do anymore?  Or, maybe do less often?  That’s a tough question. I think photographers should shoot and showcase what they know and love. I fully support the creative evolution of photographer. I think it’s great that a landscape photographer may want to explore shooting portraiture. But I think some photographers try to show too wide a range of ‘specialties’ in their books in an attempt to cover their bases and obtain more work.  In my experience each ad campaign calls for a unique look and feel and specialty be it lifestyle, still life, portraiture etc.  As a producer I need to know that the photographer I hire lives and breathes his specialty, because they will be collaborating with the art director on set.  Photographers are hired for their expertise and the agencies rely on this heavily.  The more diversified a book, the less I trust that the photographer is an expert in all types of imagery that they are showing.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?   In my experience clients value competence from a photographer.  They want to know that their money is being well spent.  Even though a client agrees with the agency that a photographer is well suited to shoot a particular ad or campaign, they always worry about the details.  And most of the worry comes from inexperience. “Will he/she be able to get all of our shots each day?  Will he/she be able to elicit the expressions we need?”  An early client pre-pro meeting typically sets their mind at ease.

As a producer, I also feel that the photographer’s competence is extremely important.  Equally important to me are the photographer’s personality and professionalism. Let’s face it, some clients are difficult. I need to know that the photographer I hire is going to be patient, friendly, and professional during the shoot.  I can’t run the risk of hiring someone with a huge ego or that hates working with people that may snap at the client.

In my experience these needs have not changed over the years.

To learn more about Andrea Flaherty, please link here.

2 thoughts on “Solving Mysteries with freelance art buyer Andrea Flaherty

  1. great interview, very “to-the-point” and it seems consistent with the industry at large. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Heather, do you offer assistance with developing proposals for a commercial photography jobs? How much, or how little assistance do you offer?

    • Hi there.

      Thanks so much for reading our blog. We do offer consulting services, however at this time we are not able to as we are busy in the office. You can check back in a month or so.

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