STOP LOOKING FOR A PHOTO AGENT
Please do! and I’m gonna let you know why.
You’ve been working in the Photographic industry for a while, maybe a couple of years. You understand the ins and outs of being a professional photographer, and you are confident of your skills and your talent. You have done your research or you have heard stories about how agencies that represent photographers are working with the top clients, and you want a piece of that cake too. Isn’t that the dream for all of us, though? Be represented by an Art+Commerce, D+V Management, Bernstein and Andriulli, Streeters or Magnum, among other top agencies.
Although that is a great goal to have, is not as easy as harassing their representatives for years to get your foot in the door. Let’s break it into a couple of thoughts for easy digestion, not confusing it with trying to make you forget the idea so I can get ahead of you or anything crazy like that.
it is true that having representation will give a push to your career. The agencies, particularly those mentioned above, have been around for many years or at least their agents have. Clients already have developed relationships with these people, they trust in them and trust in the talent they represent. Do you have clients in common with the agency? do you have some kind of relationship with anyone related to the agency or their clients?. This can give you a better position to talk to them.
The agent will give you all his/her clients; besides, people will be knocking at your door, calling at your phone and bombarding your email. They all want to work with you because you are represented.
there is a misconception that having representation equals not having to go out and look for new clients. In the end, the agent will give you all his/her clients; besides, people will be knocking at your door, calling at your phone and bombarding your email. They all want to work with you because you are represented, right?. Nothing is farther from the truth.
I am glad I learned this lesson in a soft way. I got representation as a Digital Tech, it all went great at the beginning because many jobs were coming, but the slow times came and although my agent was marketing myself aggressively they weren’t getting those many requests for a Digital Tech from their clients. I totally understood that having an extra hand can double your efforts, however, you have to keep doing your best effort. Think about your business, you are the only one who gives 200% at it, no one else is going to work as hard in it as yourself, not even your agent. Agencies have a roster of different artists and they need to put their efforts into finding jobs for each one of them. Now that I am represented as a Photographer and Director, it’s helped me to have a beautiful and smooth relationship with my agency and agents.
lately it seems like the coolest thing to have. Instead of taking it as a creative and business partnership, it seems like artists are taking representation as part of their marketing spiel. I totally get it, saying you are represented by such and such sounds cool, makes you feel and sound important and sells you better. The thing is that representation goes beyond those things, those are probably some little perks or add-ons. You are a business and you need to stay afloat, and as hard as it’s been to build your empire, you wouldn’t trust anyone to come and do whatever they want. It is the same with representation. You don’t want to sign with someone just because, you want to make sure it is a great partnership, that they hold your best interests and that it feels right.
I would say that in this day and age it is not so easy to get representation. Yes, there are many new and smaller agencies coming out every year, and there will be more because they want to charge that beautiful 20% or more per job you get (oh you had forgotten about that part, uh?, they need to make money too), but there’s also a million more photographers entering the industry, all wanting representation as much or more than you. Agencies already see hundreds of portfolios per week, many better than yours, and in the end they don’t get signed. Why? they don’t have hundreds of clients. Actually if you have been around for a while, you may have noticed that there are many agencies that have closed in recent years, the reason being that representing photographers is a complicated task. You gotta manage reputation, invoicing, marketing; and that’s fine. But also you are involved in production, handling money, hiring crew and you need a producer for those tasks. It’s not as easy as getting the job for you, sending you to set and charging.
My final thought is that we all need a reality check, our work is probably not at the level they’re looking for or we are not in the position to be represented. If you’ve had the privilege to work alongside big photographers, old school photographers with a prominent status in the industry you may have already learned this lesson. Before, you would get an agent to represent you, just because you were so busy and had so many jobs or inquiries coming in, that you needed an extra hand or team to help you with it. You couldn’t handle it yourself, you had to be on set and not have to worry about those things. That is how those relationships and methodology of work developed. So think about it, do you have so many clients/jobs that you need an extra hand?, is your work at a point in which you need a push to take it to the big leagues?
Feel free to post any comments or questions regarding this topic, if I can give you any advice I will.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME
I am a Photographer and Director, represented by Artists at Wilhelmina in the United States. My main focus is Fashion and Beauty, working in the creation of images for a diverse name of brands. My background in advertising has helped me understand the unique needs of the clients and the execution of impactful images.