6 Days, 7 Airplanes, 18 Taxis, 4 Hotels, 40 Appointments and 100s of Handshakes and Hugs Later.

In all the years I have been repping, these last two weeks have been some of the most productive.  I traveled to two great events and met with so many of the art producers and creatives that I have gotten to know so well over the years.   While I was busy doing my thing, three  of the photographers in our group attended At Edge’s Face to Face in NYC,  two attended Debra Weiss’s One on One event in LA and three of them ventured out on appointments.

All of those events and appointments together amounted to connecting with well over 200 people.

I have always said that the single most important thing I can do for my photographers is to make a connection.  And, if a photographer isn’t shooting, the single most important thing they can do for themselves is to make a connection. Doing so in this industry goes a long way.  And, having done this for quite some time now, I can say the relationships that have come from these connections – both personal and professional – have indeed been beneficial for everyone in our group.

Even though each event is very different, they all provide a very powerful path to making important connections.   See below for how we made each event work for us.

AT EDGE -FACE TO FACE

For those of you who have never attended an At Edge Face to Face  event, the goal is to connect top level creative talent with leading photographers.  (Link here to learn more)

Each photographer is scheduled for three 15 minute meetings with people they would like to meet.  When I attend the event, I accompany the photographers and help them to present their work.  Attending with them allows both of us the chance to connect one on one with the reviewer.

Our photographers made their own connections- without me.

Well, even though attending with them has worked well in the past, this time I decided to do things a little differently.  I learned a long time ago that if there is an opportunity for a photographer to have a meeting one on one without me, it can be more powerful than if I were present.   I have found that when I am present, the conversation can turns social and the photographer is left without the opportunity to tell their own story.

The fifteen minutes At Edge allows is not a lot of time, so why be a distraction? We decided that this time, I would merely make the introduction, say a quick hello and leave them to their conversation.

Hunter Freeman, Chris Crisman and Kevin Twomey all agreed that it was their time to shine at these meetings and all came back enthusiastic and excited about their new connections.  Connections that were entirely theirs.

Our photographers know that the quick, fifteen minute meeting, is just the beginning of their connection and it is up to them to keep it going.

I have heard photographers question how they can adequately show off their work in just fifteen minutes.  And I have also heard them say that it wasn’t worth the time and money to attend an event if they were only going to meet a few people.  I have always thought this was short sighted because all it takes is one person, one connection or even just one image that makes that next job happen.

Hunter Freeman had a great strategy.  He knew that he only had fifteen minutes and recognized that he was one of many that would be presenting their work that night.  Hunter started off each meeting telling the person that they would end the meeting with three things to remember him by;  Kids with Power Tools, Apple and Dreams.  His reviewers were intrigued and when he got to those particular images he would point them out and remind them that these were the images they were suppose to remember him by.   When the meeting ended each person – on their own – mentioned all three images back to him.  It was a successful connection.

Dreaming_Conference_Room1_HEweb_SIZED

In addition to Hunter’s strategy, everyone in the group spent the next few days following up with email and hand written thank you notes and not just to the people on their meeting list, but to everyone at the event.  There were so many flying around I could not keep up.

As we all discussed,  having a reason to connect with someone is half the battle.  At Edge provided so much more than that.

LE BOOK CONNECTIONS LA

At first glance, you may describe a Le Book Connections event as chaotic or even overwhelming.  There are so many exhibitors, countless attendees and too many portfolios, ipads and images on display to count.

If you had never attended before it would be natural to ask, “How can you digest all of what you are seeing so that the event is meaningful?”

Here is how we do it:

•  Create a compelling and colorful environment. 

We make sure our booth is inviting and shows off imagery, not just portfolios. We use a combination of music stands and tables to showcase the work.  Every book is kept open to an image.  People often comment that the booth draws them in every time.

IMG_9859

•  Curate our work so that we can easily show what is the newest.

The question most asked is, “What do you have that is new?” This is an obvious question and helps people digest all the work they are viewing.  We ask each photographer to update their books before the event and also provide us with any special presentations of their latest work.  Since so many people are already familiar with our photographers this is an easy way to get them to take a second look.  This time, Ron Berg’s Kentucky Derby Fashion promo was a big hit and fun for people to flip through.

•  Provide an Agency Portfolio

We learned after the first Le Book that not everyone has time to review every book like at a regular portfolio show.  So, to combat that, we created a AGENCY PORTFOLIO.  However, rather than group the portfolio by photographers like most other agencies do, we group the book by  SPECIALTY.  That way, a reviewer can see which photographers in our group shoot still life, food, lifestyle, landscape etc and if they see something they like we can direct them towards a particular book.  It is amazing how many times someone goes from book to book once we show them the group portfolio.

•  We Know How to Throw a Good Party

At the Le Book Connections NY event last year, we hired a very nice looking bartender (can’t hurt, right?) to mix martinis for the cocktail hour.  The shake shake shake and the martini glasses wandering around the room were a hit and drew people to our booth for sure.

Well, this year, we upped the ante and partnered with Brite Productions.  We asked to be placed next to them and together we hired the bartender, served martinis again and added pigs in the blanket for a little Mad Men style.  It was a party not to be missed.  And, the sense of community was unsurpassed.

 IMG_9909 - Version 2

 

DEBRA WEISS’ ONE ON ONE EVENT

I have never personally attended one of these events because they are by invitation only for the photographers. However,  whenever I receive an invitation for them to attend another one, I always encourage our photographers to do so.

Her event is similar to FotoWorks in that photographers meet one on one with many art producers and creatives to present portfolios. They are allotted 25 minutes and they see upwards of ten or more people.  It is a very productive time and many connections are made.

I am sometimes asked why photographers in our group attend events like this.  People wonder why photographers at this particular level would need to do this?  Why wouldn’t they just reach out to the creatives and art producers on their own.  Surely, they would get an appointment.

My answer is simple.  Efficiency.  There is no other way that a photographer (or a rep for that matter) could see that many people in that short amount of time.  Ron Berg and Hunter Freeman saw 10 people each at Debra’s One on One. Chris Crisman and Richard Schultz met 20 people each when they attended FotoworksNYC.  Any rep will tell you that coordinating 20 appointments for one photographer would never happen in two days, ever.  You would be lucky if this happened over a week and to get a photographer to commit to a week on the road promoting their work is a long shot as well.

photo

CHRIS CRISMAN’S LAST MINUTE ROAD TRIP TO NYC

3:30PM (West coast time) on Wednesday of last week, I received an email from Chris Crisman.  “I am headed to NYC tomorrow for appointments, can you help me out?”  3:30 my time is 6:30PM in New York.  YIKES!  While I was thrilled that he was hitting the pavement with his new portfolio, I was not quite sure what I would pull off for him given that most of NY was headed home.   Regardless of the time, I began sending emails.  I started with the art producers that have called in his work or estimated a job with him in the last year.  I then reached out to friends, knowing that I would at least get a reply from them!

Well, by the time I got back at my desk the next morning, Chris had eight appointments.  Eight!  I was so grateful for everyone for even considering such a last minute request.  On top of the eight appointments, countless others replied with their regrets – which I thought was amazing given how busy everyone was and I never expected that many people to even reply.  And, as I said to Chris, even a regret means they had to think about you for a second.  Who knows, maybe they even clicked on his website.

When it was all over, Chris had an opportunity to show off his new portfolio, talk about potential projects and meet new friends.   Something he would not have otherwise been able to do from behind his desk at his studio.

——–

A special thank you goes out to Glen Serbin, Susan Baraz, Elizabeth Owens, Alex Orlowski , Debra Weiss and all the NYC Art Producers that took time to schedule appointments and reply to my emails  for making our time on the road very very productive!  We are part of a very special community of creative, talented and generous people and we are very grateful.

Heather Elder Represents Rethinks the Agency Portfolio.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 5.23.28 PM

Last year, we decided that it was a good time to create an AGENCY PORTFOLIO.  We had a fantastic group of photographers and many opportunities to show it off.  We didn’t want it to be a typical group book that had a section for each photographer.  While we like those and they are always very strong, we wanted ours to be a little different so that it would stand out more at events such as Le Book’s Connections.

What we came up with was a portfolio divided by SPECIALTY instead of by PHOTOGRAPHER.  We liked this idea because it allowed us to showcase the type of work our group can offer while allowing the viewer to file our group away by different specialities.  Of course it is always our main goal for a creative to learn who our photographers are and what they shoot individually.  This will never change.  But, by offering an alternate way for them to view the work in our group, we are opening up another opportunity for them to remember the work.

More often than not the Agency Portfolio is shown in conjunction with the individual portfolios so if a viewer is interested in seeing more, they can choose to do so right then and there.  This is particularly helpful in a setting like Le Book Connections because there are so many books to view and it can get overwhelming for some. We have found that our agency book provides a breath of fresh air in a crowded market.

Take a look for yourself and see.  It is no mistake that we chose the song, Breathe by Sia as the background music.  Enjoy!

Click here to see the video of our Agency Portfolio

Click here to see the video of our Agency Portfolio

3 Photographers, 3 Days, 64 meetings, Endless Possibilities

In order of priority, here is what I think are the most effective ways for a photographer to generate more business.

1) Produce current projects, complete estimates

2)  Create new imagery

3) Make connections; new and old

In other words, if a photographer isn’t creating estimates or new imagery, the single most effective way to generate new business is to get out there and meet people.

I say all the time that when a photographer presents their portfolio or reaches out to a new client to share work on their own, the effect on their reach is exponential.  An agent cannot effect this same change on his/her own.  This is not because they are not capable, but because there is a different value in the photographer being present; a value that no agent could provide on their own.

Well, two weeks ago, Chris Crisman, Richard Schultz and Ron Berg proved me right.  They spent 3 days in NY attending the At Edge Face to Face event and the Fotoworks portfolio review.  Combined, they met with 64 art buyers, creative directors and photo editors.  How else but through these events could any of them (or even me?) meet with that many people in such a short amount of time?  It was a powerful and very effective way to spend the week.

Here are some insights and comments from the week:

•  They have a stronger insight into their work.  They heard first hand what people like (and don’t) and have experienced for themselves the connections that people make to their work. And, they have heard for themselves the feedback that we have been sharing with them already.  Now, when we talk about imagery and strategy they have an insight they would not otherwise have had.

•  They made or enhanced their own connections.  Now, these industry colleagues know them.  They engaged with their work, looked them in the eyes and connected with them on personal level.  The photographers can keep the connections alive on their own now and begin to foster a relationship when relevant.

•  They heard what other people in the industry think of their reps  first hand.   Our reputation is strong and it is nice for them to hear that for themselves.

•  They have added a layer of recognition to their work.  Our office creates a marketing plan that  focuses on us promoting their work over the course of the year.  By attending these events on their own, they added an extra layer of recognition and connection; one that we could not have provided on our own.  This personal connection is invaluable and the effect they have caused is exponential.

•  They have heard what other people in the industry think of their group.  This is important because as a group we share ideas, co-market and refer projects to each other.  Knowing that you are in good company always feel good.  And, in some instances, the photographers referred each other to the creatives they met.

It is also worth noting that a few creatives questioned why these particular photographers would be attending seeing that they could meet with the art buyers anytime on their own.   While a one on one, longer meeting is always preferable, the idea that Fotoworks and At Edge gather the top level creatives in one space for a set amount of time is very important.  It would be too challenging for each of our photographers to make all the calls necessary to yield 20 or so appointments each.  And, realistically, could they all happen over 3 days?  Never.  These events provide the most efficient way for our group to take time away from their studios.  Without the organization and the structure of the events, Ron, Chris and Richard would not have made one of those connections last week.

Overall, the investment that these photographers made in their future, their business and their relationship with us was well worth the money they spent.  I know how hard it is to be away from family, to push aside projects and to leave those emails behind.  And, for this we are so very thankful.  The time and effort they put into this week did not go unnoticed and we know it will pay off for them in dividends.

Haven’t had a chance to see Kevin Twomey’s portfolio up close and personal? See what you are missing.

As I mentioned in our first video portfolio post last week, it is pretty rare when we get to send out a portfolio for a request. Nowadays, they are used mostly for portfolio shows and events.  It doesn’t make them any less important of course.  In fact, I would argue they are even more important now.  They are rarely seen so when they are they need to shine!

We thought it would be great if more people were able to see the portfolio so we asked Marc Viarta, a videographer, to video tape someone reviewing Kevin Twomey’s portfolio.  We added some fun music and posted them to Vimeo.  We will be adding Kevin’s video as well as others from our group to our websites soon.

If you would like to see Kevin’s portfolio in person, please email us – we would love the request!  And, if you would like to see Kevin’s website, please link here.

Link here to see Kevin Twomey’s video portfolio

Want to see Ron Berg’s new portfolio? Just click here and think of the Fedex charges you will save.

As we all know, it is pretty rare when we get to send out a portfolio for a request. Nowadays, they are used mostly for portfolio shows and events.  It doesn’t make them any less important of course.  In fact, I would argue they are even more important now.  They are rarely seen so when they are they need to shine!

We thought it would be great if more people were able to see Ron Berg’s portfolio so we asked Marc Virata, a videographer, to video tape someone reviewing the book.  We added some fun music and posted it to Vimeo.  We will be adding Ron’s video as well as videos from the rest of our group,  to our websites soon.

If you would like to see the portfolio in person, please email us – we would love the request!  And if you would like to see Ron Berg’s work on line, please link here.

Click here for a video of Ron Berg’s portfolio

A unique approach to portfolio shows that will help both art buyers and reps. Thank you Char Eisner and Leo Burnett.

Our office  has been hosting portfolio shows for quite a long time now.  I often say that between the two of us,  Lauranne and I have visited most every major agency around the country multiple times.  We feel fortunate to represent talented photographers and to have the relationships that allow us access to host these shows.

Having hosted so many shows, we have a very good idea of why shows succeed or fail.  So much of it is unpredictable and dependent on what the agency has going on internally.   Maybe there is a big meeting coming up, or everyone is gearing up for a pitch.  Maybe there have been too many shows scheduled and the creatives are burned out or maybe they just don’t have the time.  Regardless, even if the turnout is low, we know what a challenge it can be for art buyers and are always appreciative of the opportunity.  Besides, all we need is that one person to be interested, right?

We have had many art buyers brainstorm with us at shows about what could make a show more successful as we all realize that it is getting harder and harder to cheerlead for us.  Next time the conversation comes up, I will tell them about my recent visit to Leo Burnett with Char Eisner and the creatives in her department.

Here is what I would tell them.

I recently visited Chicago and Leo Burnett and was struck by how extra fantastic the turnout was for the portfolio show.  So much more so than at a typically good show.  There was an abundance of creatives who attended and  they all showed up on time.  They asked where the sign in sheet was to sign in, engaged me in conversation and took promos.  Some even asked me to make sure they were on the email list of particular photographers.  The energy of the show was very upbeat and I didn’t get the sense that anyone was trying to get in and out quickly so as not to have to engage.

When Char and I chatted afterwards, I could not thank her enough for how well she produced her portfolio shows.

I attributed the 100% of the success to

Expectation Management

 for me and the creative department.

Char explained to me that a while back, she realized that in order for her creative department to find portfolio shows relevant, she needed to make some changes.

Here are the changes that she implemented:

•   Portfolio shows will only be hosted on Tuesdays from 10-12 AM only.  There are no other times allotted, regardless of if you are from out of town or not.  You are welcome to come meet with individual creatives and art buyers but no exceptions to the show schedule will be made.

•  Reps are sent a detailed letter that outlines what they can expect from her department and other relevant information.   Receiving this letter up front answers all of the questions at one time and saves everyone a lot of back and forth later on.

Some things mentioned in the letter are:

-What will be provided by Leo Burnett; such as tables and other supplies

-What rep will need to bring on their own (portfolios, treats and as needed -music and AV needs)

-An idea of reasonable treat specs and quantities

-Permission to reach out to creatives on my own during the show

-Contact information and the role each person plays in the show

-Specific appointment information such as address, security information, contact person and floor information; which is important for caterer and rep.

With such a well oiled machine it is no wonder that the shows are a hit time and time again.

Here are some benefits of a detailed approach to portfolio shows:

1)   Creatives are not overwhelmed by shows scheduled one after another.  They do not get jaded or feel obligated to drop what they are doing to attend.  They do not try to avoid the art buyer when she/he wrangles them and they actually look forward to events.

2)   The art buyer does not feel obligated to squeeze someone in.  I am guessing this makes the job easier and allows the art buyer to let a rep know quickly whether or not they can visit.  I appreciate this because I know that I can move on and find another agency to fill that slot rather than cross my fingers and hold off until I hear back.

3)  Because spaces are limited, the creatives know that the art buyer will select talent to showcase that is relevant and appropriate to the agency and what they are currently working on.

4) Creatives can schedule their time accordingly and know that if they have to miss one Tuesday there is another one coming next week.  They no longer feel pressured to attend and the routine of it all makes it feel less like an interruption and more like a part of their day.

5)   Because it is a routine event, the art buyer is able to secure the same space for the same time every week.  She or he requests a space larger enough for different size rep agencies and even provides extra folding tables.  For those of us who have many books or large books, this is an ENORMOUS gesture.

6)   A rep can have a clear understanding of how involved the art buyer is able to be in the planning and execution of the show. When I know that an art buyer is not a resource for things like caterers, I know to work this out on my own without even asking.

7)   Having consistent and well attended shows also makes it possible for the art buyer to provide accurate insight into quantities for treats.  It is always helpful to hear that  treats work well and are very much appreciated but not required.

8)   I do not need to guess how my show will be promoted.  Knowing the deadline for the invite and how often it is distributed and how makes me feel confident that there is some promotion happening and this goes a long way towards a successful show.

9)   Being encouraged to reach out to the creatives on my own during a visit is a relief.  Knowing that the department wants reps to make their own connections makes making the call that much easier and less intrusive.

I share this with you not only because it was a positive experience for us and a  successful show for our group but because Char Eisner and her Leo Burnett team insist that it was the same for them as well.    Another example of a win/win situation.  Something we should all strive more towards nowadays.

If you have any other successful tips for how to host a successful/well attended portfolio show for both the agency and the agent, please email us or comment on this post.  We would love to hear what you have to say.