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Spec Work


In the directing world, spec work is a way to break in. In photography, would you recommend photographing specific brands on spec to build your portfolio, or using no brands whatsoever?


In the photo world, clients want to see your overall style match their brand. Build your portfolio to show the look and feel your favorite clients cater to, and use this “spec” concept to incorporate the products your ideal clients will need to see. If you want to get beer campaigns, put in some cans or bottles and show off how your shiny condensation skills fit your cohesive vibe. Displaying the type of product is more important than the specific brand of the product.

Approaching New Clients


Hi Andrea, great Insta feed. Your tips are really helping me. Am I free to ask you for some advice? I’m convinced my portfolio is good and I have a lot of experience (15y). But I’m not where I want to be. And I really have no clue how to approach new clients like magazines or advertising agencies. What do I write in my email pitch? What’s the key to get the clients I want? I know it’s not about the portfolio, so how do I convince them to do a shoot with me? Thanks 🙂


The answer usually comes down to your portfolio of images. All the other parts of our business need to be in place, but it comes down to your portfolio being the right fit for what a client is looking to bring to their project. 

Research to know that you are contacting the appropriate people and have your “elevator pitch” ready to go with keywords they can search for when they are looking.

Write a quick and concise email as if you were receiving it. Don’t sound like a sales pitch; sound like a human connecting to another human, and then stay on their radar with your marketing plan. You wrote this question in a very thoughtful and sincere way, so stick to that and be yourself!

Networking Options


What are the best networking options these days?


Photographers have to create their own networking as it’s on a more individual basis instead of group events. Directly contacting clients is much more acceptable than it used to be; it’s even more expected these days. Get yourself out there with all the social media platforms and zoom portfolio reviews. See what interests people, notice what they said on a webinar or their LinkedIn post, use all of this as a more human approach to doing one-on-one connective networking.

Making the Most of an Agency Access Subscription


Any tips or tricks on making the most of an Agency Access subscription?


I would not rely on a single source for your contact list management. Agency Access can help and be a good resource if you also collect names of prime contacts in other ways like social media, LinkedIn, and jury/portfolio review event lists. Today’s marketing is multi-dimensional, with all of our combined resources working together. I use Agency Access as a research tool offering info on the masses with valuable insights like client email formats and the brands they cover.

Designing a Website


How do you make a splash with a new website?


The two-pronged answer to this is to hire a rock solid design team who understands our well-categorized fast paced industry and then knowing how to show it off in all of our potential platforms with a dynamic in their face publicity. Remember, your website must comply with our industry norm of giving a 2-second quick read along with options for those who will have time to dig deeper and see more of what they are on the hunt for.

Inside View: LA Art Director on What They Look For in Photographers + How They Find Them

ASR: What is something that will make you choose one photographer over another?

AD: There’s a lot of different factors that go into selecting photographers. For me one main one is the client and the project itself. Are they safe, more adventurous, reserved, edgy? Once I figure that out, I determine the vibe of the project. For me mood is a key factor to selecting a photographer. Without knowing the photographer at a personal level, if I can sense the mood I’m going for within their portfolio I feel more confident working with them. There’s a sense of trust without really having to communicate. More and more, I feel that when a photographer is doing something different from the norm. I’m more than likely to push for them. If I get inspired by a photo that pushes my own conventional thinking, they’ve won me over. And that’s the thing with photographers, right? It’s that trust in giving them freedom without really micromanaging them to get the shot you’ve envisioned. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten to work with so many talented photographers. 

ASR: How do you find photographers?

AD: Rosters, Instagram, friends in the industry, I keep leave behinds when a photographer visits the agency. Instagram presence really helps too. 

ASR: Why does an Instagram presence really help?

AD: Instagram presence is important to me cause it gives me a sense of their personality. A portfolio is curated but an active photographer on Instagram draws me in on a personal level. Especially when I see work I might have not seen. When I see a photographer’s Instagram that’s not mimicking their portfolio it’s the truest form of connecting with them. Seeing the way they see the world.

Lifestyle + Portrait Photography


How can a lifestyle photographer that only shoots natural light portraits and documentary style photography have different sections when it’s all essentially the same things?


If you shoot one type of photography with similar situations, you don’t necessarily need different categories but it could be a way to show more and give you more credit. When you are up for a job, it gives the client some satisfaction to dig in deeper, explore, and research you. Projects that show off other clients/past jobs is a definite boost to give them reassurance that you are trustworthy. Give the viewer the option to see it all on one overview or keep them longer, by offering sections which suggest you have a lot more to show!

Online Portfolio Q&A


As portfolio reviews shift online rather than in person, do you have any guidelines as to how best show our work? Is it a curated website gallery? A shared PDF? How best to display our work over Zoom etc?


What do our clients need right now? Think about it beforehand and have your topics ready to show and discuss. Give them your solution ideas because you are a valuable team player for them. Relate to who they are and what they work on. This is our opportunity to really have their attention vs. portfolio showings in the past which sometimes became about the food and their time to socialize. Prepare, research, and then have a pdf of relatable images ready, but ask if they want to see the pdf of relatable images ready, but ask if they want to see the pdf OR your website. I personally find websites more helpful when I’m on the reviewer’s side. I want to know you and get the whole picture. The only rule I have is to show clients the images that relate to what they look for.  

New Normal


What’s your take on showing work made before Covid vs. work that was clearly made in the “new normal?” Does pre-Covid production value translate as relevant today?


Since the wise photographer and @ArtofFreelance creator Mathieu Young asked me this in response to last week’s Q&A, I asked it back to him before I responded. 

He says – “I hope so! But obviously, not without context, and a plan to make work in the new normal (or better yet, examples of post shutdown work to go alongside the existing portfolio?).”

Thank you Mathieu!

We always want to promote our work that can influence a client to hire us to shoot NOW. 

This answer really depends on the type of work you do because large crews with a large amount of talent is not happening of course, so no need to be showing those images right now. For all the other types of work, the sets and crew sizes have changed but a lot of work I’m seeing right now looks the same to me. 

The ultimate question is…

Can you create the same type of work as you did pre-Covid with a smaller hybrid type of crew?

Reps + Portfolios


What in particular from a photographer’s portfolios are key? What are reps looking for specifically in the work or how it’s presented?


We are looking for images that pop, feel strong, and ooze with production value. We know we have seconds to impress a client so your images have to speak for themselves and make a fast impact. The best images are ones that can flow on an overview and sell each other. Images that relate to each other, not always in category but cohesively in style and vibe.