Community Table Agents – Already at Dessert

Welcome back to our 5th series of posts where we share the results from our conversations held directly with community leaders about top-of-mind photo-industry issues.  Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.

And for this series, we discussed changing it up a bit, setting a place for a new category of community leader to have a seat at our table.  So we invited and thusly tapped into the minds of some of the countries best artists’ agents while they were in town to attend LeBook’s ConnectionsSF.

Post roundtable, we then got really excited to share with you the results of our time spent with them  — time spent asking about not only what keeps these agents motivated and inspired but also what they have learned during their years on the front-lines of selling and marketing creativity.  And then most importantly, getting their thoughts on what is now necessary to survive in the picture-making industry.

So with that, we welcome you back to Community Table and collective insights from:

Deb Ayerst, Ayerst Artists’ Agent

Howard Bernstein, Bernstein & Andrulli

Marge Casey, Wave Represents

Jen Jenkins, Giant Artists

Carol LeFlufy, Eye-Forward

Kate Chase, Brite Productions

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents


To see the first post in this series, please link here.


Do you think the photographers usage model should be changed to fit today’s more common requests for libraries as well the unlimited time, use request?  If not, why not? 

• Usage rights are paramount. It is our responsibility as agents to protect them. Even if something is a library – it is talent and job dependent.

• We never give away copyright –ever. We have an obligation to educate the client and try to structure the contract accordingly.

• We shoot more libraries than not. We adjust the rate accordingly.

• Working with Client Direct clients rather than through an agency is more challenging because they are less experienced when it comes to usage and many do not understand the concept.

• It is surprising how many client direct contracts are not relevant to photography projects. They are standard vendor agreements. It would go a long way if they took the time to understand the structure and evolve their paperwork accordingly.

• Usage and copyright are worth fighting for. I wish there were a strong enough union of agents and photographers. There have been talks and many have tried but if we were more like the broadcast model we would be in a better place.

• The AICP is strong and it would be great if we could get a small group of agents/photographers to fall under them to help break down the doors and get agencies to start considering the broadcast model for print.

• There has never been a strong enough group to define our rules. If we could organize as a group to do this, the results would be powerful for our industry.

• Being able to have a standardized bid form and an option of a firm bid would go a long way for our industry. Think about the money and time that would be saved on all sides?

• Leo Burnett is a front runner in this approach. They are breaking down these walls, so much so that they have evolved how their departments operate with this in mind.

• Now that producers are working within different mediums, they are understanding the broadcast model more. Maybe now the time is right to start the conversation again.


There are many mixed messages between clients, agencies, photographers and agents in regards to advances.  What is your position in regards to advances?  How do you handle it when one is late?  Are you ever not given an advance and is that ok?  Are there consequences to letting an advance slide?  What would you like clients and agencies to understand about advances that you think they may be misunderstanding?

• They are mandatory. We never cave. Especially for European projects.

• We operate case by case and always try to get 50% of bottom line + 100% on talent. Trust is always a factor.

• Our still life and product photographers tend to have less expenses and can be more flexible with advance but we still adhere to our same rules.

• When it is clear that an advance is not coming before the shoot, I try to explain to the art producer that not receiving it on time is the equivalent or them not receiving their paycheck on time.

• Agencies need to allow time to pre-invoice their clients. I am always amazed when I hear that there is no policy in place for this.

• It is imperative for emerging photographers to get their advances. They do not have lines of credit most likely.

• No photographer should be the bank for a client. Neither should an agency.


•  What would you want agencies to know about scheduling portfolio shows? And, what suggestions can we make as a group to help them be better attended.

• Please be our cheerleader.

• Talk to an art producer at Leo Burnett. Their shows are flawlessly executed, have set expectations for agents and reviewers and are always well attended.

• Please recognize that when we travel it is extra disappointing if you need to cancel our appointment.

• Please limit the number of shows you allow every year. It will make the creatives more interested.

• Let us know if you prefer one on one meetings rather than a big show. We like those too! We are open to whatever you think is most effective at your agency.

• Help us provide what is best for you? Let’s have a targeted purpose – do we need all the books for the show?   Are books or ipads better at your agency?

• If it is hard to get people to attend at your agency, let us know, set our expectations.

• It used to be very important for the creative to know the talent and discover them themselves. So going to portfolio shows was very important. Now, there is an over-abundance of photographers and the creatives are so used to being anonymous in the process and reviewing work on line. Discovering talent at a portfolio show is not as necessary any longer.


Is there any accountability for the creatives attending? Does it matter to anyone if they do not attend?

• I would love it if there was a certain standard or expectation at a portfolio show in terms of what we should bring. Please help us keep things consistent. I would prefer it if we didn’t have to keep raising the bar higher and higher.

• Ultimately we need to come up with different ideas, recognize when the shows are no longer working and find ways to inspire and engage people.   How can WE be surprising?

•  Though the balance to surprising is being conscious of how far to go in the quest to be surprising. If you take it too far, it moves the focus off the art and puts more emphasis on the food and beverage, defeats the purpose of the review.


What would you want agencies to know about our email blasts and direct mail efforts?  And, what suggestions can we make as a group to have the intended effect and not be seen as an annoyance.

• They take energy and time to create, please understand that.

• We try to not to over load you with imagery, honestly we do. We work hard to show you the most relevant work for you.

• Email blasts are the most direct way to know if we are targeting the right people.   It used to be that if our book as called in, we would know we were being considered for a job. Now, that doesn’t happen so the conversations about being considered have pretty much ended. Email blasts show us that you are interested.

• You CAN opt out. Please do if you prefer to not receive the emails.

• I understand that you are busy but I get a strong response from emailers – how do I reconcile that with?

• I understand that we have to make something valuable for you. We try, I promise.


What one word would you use to describe the industry?

Wild West








To read more posts in the Community Table series, please link here.







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