Photo agent: finding and dealing with a photography rep.
What’s a photography agent? Do you really need representation? How to approach and work with photo agents.
WHAT’S A PHOTOGRAPHY AGENT (OR PHOTO REP)
A photography (and/or video) agent is also known as a photo representative (rep), but from here on out, we’ll refer to them generally as agents.
Their work basically consist in helping match photographers with clients. Typically, a photography agent has connections with clients in need of photo services. The agent represent the work of his/her photographers (and/or, as AlterNative does, videographers), handling the business side of: marketing, setting up assignments, negotiating fees, sales, public relationship, project management, editing, copy-writing… While running a business too!
BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR WORK TO THE AGENT’S ATTENTION
Here some points you should get through before submitting your application for representation.
ANALYSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY CAREER
What it’s been said doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a photo rep.
Before approaching a rep in fact you should take a deep breath and analyse your professional situation: be honest, at least with yourself; the agent probably has enough experience to detect your lies anyway.
Make a serious analysis of the point you are in your career, including your client, your salary, your expenses. Understand your needs and your ambition and consider where you’d like to get.
DO YOU NEED A REP?
Consider pros and cos of having an agent and if you really want to take your decision carefully my suggestion is to create 2 different business plans. The first one will be the continuous of your actual statement, while the second one will consider the agent variable. Include his/her fees, the volume of work he/she will send to you as well as the kind of clients.
HAVE A ONLINE PORTFOLIO
If you are seeking for a professional rep he/she might not be enthusiastic of receiving a link to your facebook or instagram profile. Just saying.
Instead take the occasion of putting together a professional looking portfolio to showcase your work with the dignity it deserves.
Take the chance for expressing your true soul and the hard work you have done until now. Choose your picture carefully and create a structure able to show your skills and capacities in the genres of photography you are seeking representation. In this article you can find some solid guidelines for putting together a strong online photo and/or video portfolio.
AlterNative is specialised in travel and destination photo and video, inside this big category we have the chance to include interior and exterior, food, family, wedding, portraits, wildlife, documentary, landscape and and potentially other genres. We also receive application from fashion photographers, sometimes their skills are incredible, but unfortunately we don’t work in the fashion industry and obviously we decline the application. So…
HAVE A CONSISTENT STYLE
You don’t need to show your mistakes now. Choose your best works. I mean, only your best works.
Be specialised and show off what you are really able to do, and always think about your target. Your style should let the potential customer’s imagination flows, matching their ideas with yours.
PREVIOUS PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES
An agent want to see how you are able to deliver a final multimedia product to his/her client. Trust me, it’s very different from shooting while you are on holiday and that’s not what a travel photo agency means with travel photography anyway.
Put together the work you have done, satisfied clients and successful campaigns.
The agent will probably get you just a percentage of your financial needs. You will always be in charge of your own business, your image and your bills. Network, Learn, Improve and also your relationship with a photo rep will give you more. An agent is always keen to work with motivated, truly passionate people. Do your stuff, do it at your best.
SUBMITTING YOUR PHOTO OR VIDEO WORK TO A REP
HOW TO GET A PHOTO AGENT
If you are well exposed in the industry the agent will probably find you.
If you don’t have a strong social media presence you may need to work on networking, online and/or offline, this is up to you.
Generally speaking avoid to send copy and paste generic emails to every agent listed in the agent-list. Instead, make your own research, look at those would be a good match with your audience. Think about the other professionals they already represent.
WRITE A PROPER COVER LETTER
If required, or follow the step to apply in a meticulous way. This is your first impression and you should write your message in a proper way with professional and personal manners. Includes all the useful information about your professional history and the reason why are approaching him/her.
Follow the submission guidelines, if not specified introduce yourself and give a brief introduction about your work. Keep it short and straight to the point, you’ll have the chance to talk about the feeling of holding a camera for the first time later on, eventually.
Never, never, never ask to download files or folders.
Greetings, contacts – always double check your contacts – and signature.
INCLUDE A LINK TO YOUR UPDATED PORTFOLIO
That’s what mostly is about. I’m sorry but your potential here isn’t enough. A rep needs to see what you are able to do, in order to believe in you, in your capacities and being able to well represent your work.
BE KIND, BE COURTEOUS
Nobody is really keen to start a professional cooperation with someone who is rude or not professional, even though he/she might be a great talent.
Agents are busy people. Their inboxes are full of e-mails and they have to deal with uncountable tasks everyday. They are not sitting on the beach waiting for your portfolio, so please: don’t freak out if you don’t receive an answer after a couple of days. Lay down, take a couple of breaths, relax, go for a walk and wait. If, after 3, 4 working days you still haven’t received that e-mail you can consider senting a short and polite follow up. Stalking and sending several messages is never really appreciated.
PHOTOGRAPHER – PHOTO AGENT COLLABORATION
If finally you got your representation well, here some tips on how to make the most of your new collaboration with a photo agent.
BE PROACTIVE, BE KIND, BE COURTEOUS, BE PATIENCE
Still. But in this case means: provide the material within the scheduled deadlines or, eventually a little in advance. Be available on phone and get back to his/her e-mail within hours or not more than a couple of days. Treat his/her clients in the most professional manners and be available for a review of your work. Send your proper invoices, make your payments, never steal client. Be a decent human being.
ASK FOR ADVICE
If you have a doubt, a question or you just need a suggestion about the coming project you should feel free to ask your photography rep. Be open to honest suggestion: your agent might sound mean but his/her intent is to make the most out of your collaboration, for a reciprocal benefit.
A good rep who gives the right guidance to his/her affiliates can help them taking the right steps forward in their careers.
Show flexibility when it comes to new situation. We all know it can be annoying not being able of working in our comfort zone, with our habits, our equipment, our time, light, models etc. My suggestion is to try to get the most out of an uncountable situation. It will bond professional relationships and you’ll be able to make new experiences and grow from that.