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Monday Q+A

Ready For Artist Representation

Q:

I know I’m ready for artist representation, but unsure where to find one. Should I go to Lebook and meet folks (if so, should I only attend the ones in the markets I want to work in)? Word of mouth/asking friends?

A:

The long-term commitment of a rep is not something to settle for a person you happen to run into but should be a well-researched exploration matching your goals with that rep’s overall focus. Personal introductions are extremely helpful but remember, this decision cannot be based on desperation and should be made with confident assurance that your value will increase with the right representation.

Signed to Two Agencies at the Same Time

Q:

I am a photographer that is currently signed to an agency, the contract is nearing completion, and they have asked if I want to renew the contract. Another agency has expressed interest in signing me at the same time. Is it possible to be signed to multiple agencies as a photographer/director?

A:

No absolute rule on this, but it isn’t something I recommend for a commercial advertising photographer/director. Other industries may work like this, but clients in our world would be confused. Our goal is to have our clients know, think of, and contact us. If we offer too many contact associations, we may create more of a branding identity mishap vs. a sharp, concise system to register in their memory. 

Spam Filters

Q:

My consultant is helping me with emailers, although I notice they go unread due to spam filters at many agencies (confirmed by my direct outreach). Is there a preferred platform for an email list emailer? Something that allows for reading/open tracking that won’t get spam filtered?

A:

Every client has a different email guarded system that we can’t control. Clients tend to move around from company to company so often that we must constantly revise our lists. The one solution I go for is to get as many approved emails and try to send them in a multitude of ways. I’ll do just an email for anyone to open and click. Next to IG, monitoring this system is the 2nd best way to be seen by the most people in one day. If we stay on this as regularly as possible, along with our IG engagement, we can cover a lot of ground, even if the results look insignificant.

Image Licensing Rights With No Contract

Question:

My long-time restaurant client plans to publish a cocktail book showcasing their cocktail recipes, all of which I have shot. She asked me about image licensing rights because I was so green when this started and did not send them contracts (I know, big fail). Ideally, I would like to send her a new contract for the images she’d like to use in the cocktail book, and I was wondering if this was the best course of action.

Answer:

The root of the issue with no contracts is how you and the client were both green. Uncontracted clients may assume they own the copyright without needing your usage approvals. The overall solution is to follow up with all uncontracted clients before an issue arises, verifying your image ownership and assuming usage rights. Talk to your clients, make this a two-way conversation asking what they’d like to use the images for in the future and become part of their long-term solution… for a price, of course.

Clients Not Paying to Retouch Work

Q:

A client returned to purchase a second round of images I shot for them. They would not pay me to retouch this 2nd batch of images because it was cheaper for them to outsource the post work. Now the images are live and online without any retouching or color correction… What could I say next time to prevent this from happening again?

A:

I don’t mean to be harsh, but the only thing you can do about this is offer cheaper retouching or request that your name not be associated with the images. Depending on their contractual terms, you can retouch them your way and show them off on your site and IG. Other than that, they have full rights to retouch/crop/manipulate the images you shot any way they choose. 

Motion and Stills

Q:

Along with shooting stills, does it make sense to create a short 15-45 second motion spec for a product? Would that take away the title of “photographer” from us?

A:

Interesting, I received this request- “We are looking for a photographer who shoots motion or a DP/director with…”. Clients look for photographers’ motion reels, especially when they have a tight budget for a project vs. the larger footprint of production companies. The title of “photographer” now means all of the above.

Two Kinds of Photography at the Same Time

Q:

I want to get into Fashion and Lifestyle commercial photography. Can we do two kinds of photography at the same time?

A:

Focusing on various markets comes up a lot for photographers of all types. I used to hear how European photographers were not as pigeonholed as we are in the USA. Hey, we are human and don’t want to be locked into one field when we have a spectrum of interests. The easiest way to approach this is to master one overall artistic sensibility, style, and vibe that can be relevant in several industries.

Working With A Rep

Q:

Should I work with an agent who has other photographers like me, or should I work with one who doesn’t have a photographer with my specialty?

A:

The first major step in the rep search process is the skillset every photographer must master to succeed – I call it “the objective eye.” You have to be able to judge a “good” image and a “good” grouping of images. Will your work fit well within the rep’s roster, highlighting and amplifying your brand? Your well-curated viewpoint begins with a snap of the shutter and continues into portfolio/feed promotion. The rep requirement checklist grows from there, but this starting point should shape your search.

Low Rate Job

Q:

I shot an event for a startup event company at a very low rate and included a “no third party usage” term in the contract. A top five ad agency working with the new alcohol brand requested rights for unlimited usage in perpetuity for the images. What is the tactful, business-savvy way to respond?

A:

You hit the jackpot! The goal of shooting a low-rate “favor” job is to have it open doors leading to a higher payoff. 

Business savvy responses:

  1. Use this opportunity to develop a long-term relationship by warming it up with a phone conversation.
  2. Position yourself for shooting future projects for this client by asking if they’d like to negotiate a recurring package standard rate deal. 
  3. Clients asking for general usage like this will often reciprocate your offer by reducing their requests to bring your costs down. Prepare for that by starting with higher prices and optional cost groupings (amount of images, duration of usage, etc.).

Consistency of Questions on the Creative Call

Q:

Is there a consistency to questions you feel are missed by the client or photographers on the Creative Call?

A:

The creative call is almost as important as your portfolio of images to push you as the job’s front-runner. Questions during the call can be a way to get your point across by asking while suggesting; I call it a “loaded question.” I notice photographers not exactly missing questions per se but missing opportunistic moments to share the approach in a question format.