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How to Find a Photo Rep

September 22, 2022

A photography agent or photographer representative is an additional public persona getting you exposure, findability, and raising your stature with their reputation, connections, and business knowledge. A photographer’s rep is a powerful negotiation voice – getting you paid as much as possible while protecting you with legal oversight. They are your teammate partnership working alongside you, managing the business direction while overseeing the progression of your craft.

A photo rep knows the business side of creative careers. To put it bluntly, we protect and sell you.”

Caleb Kuhl car, lifestyle photographer, represented by SternRep, Andrea Stern
Caleb Kuhl, car and lifestyle photographer/director, repped by SternRep

The myth that damages photographers’ careers is to assume the rep is doing all the public connecting and then not doing it yourself – perhaps 10-15 years ago, that was true, but now, it can kill your career. Repped or not, the role of marketing must be a fine-tuned, consistent plan of action based on your circumstances. The essential component of having a rep has changed with the times – they are no longer the one operation to take your career to that next level.

Vinnie Finn’s Instagram, food photographer repped by SternRep

Social media has created an open market for you to participate in, opening doors reps used to open for you. These days a photographer’s marketing strategy demands high-level repetition mixed with A-level instantaneous curated direction allowing clients to get that quick read as they search for who to bid on a job.

Photographer representatives can take a photographer’s marketing to the next level, but they need their active participation to make this work.”

Five Ways to Begin Your Photo Rep Search

  1. Assess the size of the photography agency. Do you want a big rep agency or an individual rep? Think about if you want more of a hand-held catering to who you are or to be one of many fitting into a company conglomerate? Every photographer has different needs, and knowing which type of situation makes you tick even better should be your goal.
  2. Consider location. Do you want a photo rep near you or is what you do more focused in a particular city or area? For example, if you’re in high fashion photography, you’d need a New York rep.
  3. Look at the rep’s style. Every rep has a different curated vibe. Do you belong within that vibe? Or do you stand out in a way that doesn’t belong?
  4. Review the rep’s clients. Who are the clients that the rep works with regularly? Do you fit within the client roster of that rep or rep agency?
  5. Think about the competition. Many reps have the same kind of photographers, and you’ll be competing with them for jobs. For example, I rep three car photographers –I’m often bidding two of my photographers together against each other. My photographers trust me on this but will it bother you that your rep is not just for “you” all the time?

What to Look for in a Photo Rep

  1. Be sure the photo agent is moving along with the times. They should be active in social media. Look at their social media – how proactive are they? A rep isn’t an influencer, but they are promoting your work. How can they do that if they aren’t on Instagram.
  2. Look for a well-designed website with good functionality. Easy functionality with a style sharpness that stands out.
  3. Consider their response to your email – was it in a warm or hurried tone? You can usually get a sense of where they are from the email response. If they don’t respond, that’s a sign that they’re either not very responsive or not interested.
  4. Talk to other photographers about reps. You can find out about a rep’s reputation by asking others. It would be great to understand what didn’t work for one photographer with a particular agent. It may not bother you, but it could also be a reason to look elsewhere. 
  5. Look to see if the rep on LinkedIn. If a rep isn’t on the platform, I don’t know what they’re doing. An agent has to be active in all these prominent ways. It’s what we are today – no way around it.

How to Get a Photo Rep

If you are repped and looking for a change, you can be honest about why you’re seeking a change. If you have not been repped and are new to the business, keep your email short – reps know your intention immediately. It’s not easy to say no, so email a question or relatable topic to encourage building a relationship vs. needing us to figure out how to say no creatively – if we are interested, we will accept talking further. We are happy to see a quick rundown of your situation, giving us a sense of the kind and confident person you are. However, the more you say to us, the more we don’t read what you say. Make it easy for a rep who gets many of these emails daily.

“Treat reps like any other client you want to work with. The goal is to always stay in front of prospective clients in a way that works best for them.”

Whether it’s a printed mail or email promo, don’t limit yourself to just these two methods; remember, the marketing doors are your oyster to try new ways until it works. Be open to discovering fresh new ways to keep yourself out there in this rapidly ever-changing world.

SternRep’s roster of photographers and directors, image by Vinnie Finn

What Not to Do When Approaching a Photographer’s Rep

  1. Do not call people. Email first, then set up a call if the rep responds with interest.
  2. Don’t waste the rep’s time by sending them work that doesn’t apply to their lists. Research the rep’s style and aesthetic before making contact. 
  3. Don’t send mass emails, and be careful that you’ve spelled the rep’s names accurately.

The Ideal Photographer and Photo Rep Relationship

The ideal photographer and rep relationship is all about a growing team trust with complementary perspectives. You won’t always agree on things – I see it like I earn my commission by throwing ideas like pasta against the wall to see what sticks, and the photographer needs to work with me, expressing what is right for them along the way. We do this together, exploring new ideas in our consistent approach and keeping up with the times to always grow forward.

Remember, the right rep for you is about that team effort promoting the best of you to get to a constantly better place.

Caleb Kuhl photographer and Andrea Stern photo rep
Photographer Caleb Kuhl and photo rep Andrea Stern

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