Veteran Agent Tim Mitchell on Becoming the Icing on the Cake and How to Succeed

We were recently neighbors with photo agent, Tim Mitchell, at Le Book Connections in NYC.  When we got back, I remembered I had previously reached out to Tim to ask him some questions for our blog.  Here is what he had to say.  Thanks Tim!

How did you get started as a an agent and how long have you been at it?
After 16 years of producing for various photographers, one or two saw “producer burnout” approaching and asked if I’d be interested in representing them. Thanks to Olaf Veltman, I never looked back after making the transition.  We’re in our 17th year.

At a recent event, it was brought to my attention that of the  10 reps in the room, every one of them ran their business differently. Some represented stylists, some CGI artists.  Others had less sales people and more producers while others did the opposite.  The benefit of this career path is that you can make it whatever you want to fit your life.  How do you structure your business and do you see that evolving in the future?
We predominately represent talent from outside the USA and the work we bring in is icing on their cake. In some cases we’ve become the cake.  Recently we’ve added 2 USA based artists who not only compliment the European aesthetics we’re known for but also excel in their own multifaceted photography genres. We’ve kept with our boutique business approach by working with freelance producers allowing us to remain nimble in an ever changing market.

Is there one piece of advice you received when you started your business that you are most thankful have received?
Stay true to your own visual aesthetics and only “sell” the type of work you are passionate about.

Is there one thing you would like photographers to remember about the job of an agent?
We are only one piece of their marketing plan.  If a photographer does not have their own marketing/business plan in addition to an agent, they’re wasting their time. 

How about for an art buyer?  Is there one thing you would want them to remember about the job of an agent?
We’re here to make it work for both sides and we actually enjoy problem solving – so long as the solutions to problems are realistic!

We all know that there have been many changes in our industry over the years. From where you sit, what are the most important qualities a commercial photographer must have in order to create inspiring work, attract attention of clients and get hired?
In order to create inspiring work a photographer needs to shoot personal work – often.  To attract the attention of clients they need a solid marketing plan and the support of an agent.  To get hired… they need personal work, a solid marketing plan, an agent and an ability to bring more to the creative table than anyone expects.  A photographer or CGI artist needs an affable personality, an ability to convey confidence in the job with the creatives, flexibility in collaborating and a sense of humor at the end of the day.

How do you explain your job to someone in family who has no idea what you do?
I help very gifted photographers and CGI studios find work with advertising agencies and marketing companies.  Sometimes it works the other way around, I help advertising agencies and marketing companies find gifted photographers and CGI studios. 

Would you do it all over again?

Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Sundays are only spent well if they include a Saturday… Being outdoors (ideally fishing) and/or cooking with my wife.

To see out more of Tim’s work, check out his website here.

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