Posted by The Gren Group on Feb. 18, 2020
We signed several new artists to our roster recently, and that is often followed by questions from photographers about finding representation. So this is for you, the photographer searching for that perfect relationship with an agency representative.
We know how daunting this task can be, so we’ve drawn on our 25 years of experience representing commercial photographers to give you our Cliffs Notes version. Here is our Top Ten Do’s And Don’ts — results may vary based on your objective and the individual rep agency. (Now if that isn’t a typical advertising disclaimer, I don’t know what is!)
DO know this industry is changing very rapidly, so these DO’S and DON’TS could change tomorrow!
DO know that we can get up to 10 unique photographer requests each month. We may add just one new photographer a year, so you really need to stand out.
DO prove your business model. Show us that your own photography skills and marketing efforts have gotten you enough work where you need a business partner to help manage your growing business.
DO have a clear vision and direction for your work. What stage is your career at? What type of photography do you specialize in? What type of clients are you a good fit for? These are important questions a rep may want to know.
DO be analytical about your business. Know what works well for you – whether it’s email campaigns, direct mailers, face to face meetings, structured portfolio showings, source book ads, etc.
DO share your most recent commercial success stories – recognizable agencies and brands really get our attention.
DO tell us about the industry trade shows you’ve attended and the Art Producers or Creative Directors you’ve met or worked with in the past. Feel free to name drop – we may have connections in common. Oh, and referrals are huge!
DO know what a good rep brings to the partnership. Adding legitimacy to your business, increasing exposure to your work, and providing professional business services like estimating, negotiating & marketing strategy are some major benefits.
DO be patient and realistic. This is a relationship business. It can take years to build relationships with both clients and photographers, and it’s not getting any easier.
DO have a reasonable advertising & promotion budget. Attracting the attention of ad agency clients, and building relationships with them, can require an extensive financial commitment.
DON’T email us generic comments like “new website!” or “just want to take my photography to the next level”. Be creative – include the whats, whens and whys. First impressions are important!
DON’T worry if we don’t get back to you right away. We make every effort to respond to all requests – which can sometimes take days or weeks, depending on our workload.
DON’T be a beauty, fashion, conceptual or product photographer if you’re reaching out to us. Nothing personal, just not our area of expertise. Do your research and know the agent – there are lots of great reps who market celebrity & automotive work.
DON’T be content. Success in this business requires ambition, persistence and a positive outlook. Getting a rep is just the beginning of the hard work ahead, so passion and enthusiasm are a must.
DON’T worry if most of the projects come from your leads in the first year or two. That’s to be expected, so don’t keep score. After all, you’ve been promoting your own commercial work for the last 5-10 years, and we’ve just gotten started.
DON’T send us a personal Facebook request after just one email. LinkedIn and Instagram are totally cool though.
DON’T be a photographer with only personal, fine art or wedding work. As a commercial photo agency, clients expect to see work that is commercially relevant and reflects a high production value.
DON’T think you know it all. We’ve been in this ever-changing industry for more than 20 years and learn something new every day. Humility, appreciation and a strong work ethic should be core values.
DON’T get bogged down into thinking that you must have a rep to build your business. This is important! Plenty of great photographers have achieved commercial success without representation. Build a good business first.
DON’T get frustrated if you have no luck getting a rep in the first few months (or years) of trying. Take that as a sign that you have to continue working harder and smarter to appeal to an agent.
The right photographer/agent partnership can be a great thing – creative, challenging, lucrative, rewarding and fun. It’s a marriage whose success relies on mutual understanding, respect and communication. And like a marriage, know your partner well – maybe even consider living together for awhile first – like a freelance partnership. Remember, the goal is to be together for a long time – so much goes into the relationship you need to be as sure as possible.
Hope this helps a little. Good luck in your search!
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©2020 Mark Winer, The Gren Group. All rights reserved.
No liquid. No still life. No jewels. No beauty. No fashion. No food. In a nutshell (wait, that’s a food!), The Gren Group photographers create award-winning commercial assignment projects on location – in the real world. You won’t find cosmetic, splash, product or CGI photographers on our roster, or hair, make-up, set designers or stylists. This allows us to focus 100% of our attention on the categories that we know best – honest and authentic lifestyle, portrait and location work.