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Recommendations

Who To Connect With When Approaching A Big Ad Agency

Q:

When approaching a big ad agency, who should I connect with? I usually hit up a mid-level art director, but should I be approaching producers? I tend to send expensive DM pieces, so I can’t ship to everyone!

A:

The decision-makers at big ad agencies include the Creative Director, Art Director, and Producers. All three are involved with different roles, but the AD usually chooses which photographer will be the “recommend” to the client for the final decision. My method is to contact all of them and see who responds, giving me better odds of a more personalized, well-received marketing piece.

Top Two Recommendations When Searching For a Photo Rep

TWO TOP RECOMMENDATIONS WHEN SEARCHING FOR A REP:

1. Your reasons for needing a rep should lead to the questions you cover with agents to ensure they supply the specific areas you need help with. 

2. Who are the clientele you want to be in front of? Go for the reps who are already in your client’s mix. Whoever the rep works with is where you will be getting attention.

Building Bigger Productions

Q:

All my work so far has been just me or me and one assistant. I want to start building up to bigger productions. It makes sense to start with a personal test project or two to expand my portfolio, practice working under new conditions, make connections with possible crew members, etc. How do I gradually build up my productions, and in what order should I start adding crew, e.g., prop & wardrobe stylists, HMU, digital tech, producer, etc.? Or does that depend on the specifics of each job?

A:

Production Value is one of our highest industry-level rating metric systems controlling photographers’ careers. Why? Clients want to know what to predict if they hire you. They want to see proof that you can control the outcome of their project and not leave it to a moment of chance. In saying that, we must also incorporate the market’s popular trends toward a natural editorial feel of “realness.” Aside from having a consistent, steady message in your overall portfolio, commercial advertising requires high-quality styling. Whether it’s food, hair/makeup, wardrobe, or props – stylists are the #1 factor in raising the production value of a photographer’s portfolio.

Stay Active With Others In The Business

Photographers don’t have to be loners. Staying active with others in our business can tap into that business place in ourselves we all look to recharge. It’s there, at our fingertips, ready for us to relate to those who get the intricate subtleties that keep our business afloat. 

Finding an Up-and-Coming Rep to Grow With

Q:

I have myself listed with a couple of agent services, but I’d like to be repped full-time for more outreach efforts. Is there a way to find an up-and-coming rep to grow together with? How does one approach a rep?

A:

Reps are working hard to get their name out there, so ask clients or organizations like APA, Workbook, etc. Approaching the rep with a referral is the best way to get a response. Finding a new rep just getting into the business can be a clever way to get in before we have full rosters. Like any relationship, it can grow with time, so as long as you are clear on your business direction, that should help you focus on the style of rep that is right for you. 

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. 

Freelancing and Feedback

Being freelancers doesn’t mean we have to do this alone, protecting ourselves from our competition. 

The defensive stance of guarding our experiences blocks the one source of spot-on bona fide feedback.

What’s Helping You Run Your Photo Business?

What’s out there helping you run your photo business?

Let’s share our favorite resources.

Here are My Top Five:

  1. www.pixsy.com – get paid when your images are being used without your permission.
  2. www.hunter.io – valuable email formats for every company.
  3. www.aphotoeditor.com – loaded with today’s industry info.
  4. www.adweek.com/agencyspy – find the updates on the companies you want to work with.
  5. www.adsoftheworld.com – know who has worked on which ad.

Where Do Creative Directors Look for New Talent?

Q:

Where do creative directors, art buyers etc. look for new talent? I would appreciate any advice I can get.

A:

The business of photography depends on who sees our images; we have to find every potential method to put ourselves out there. Depending on the type of photographer you are, we have some really good options these days like Komyoon, Workbook, At-Edge, Blvd, Behance, PhotoPolitic, LeBook, Production Paradise, Found and Wonderful Machine. They all have a different vibe, go through them and see where you fit best. I suggest asking clients you want to work with where they look for new talent. After you give one of these a try, you can SEO your website and use Google Analytics to see where the traffic is coming in. It’s a timely process with no easy answer, but if you pay attention to your analytics, you can see what works for you.

Collaboration

Q:

I wonder if you have any insight on “collaboration.” I reach out to brands to collaborate and they perceive that I want to create content with them for free. Maybe my approach needs to be retooled or the word “collaboration” means “free.” Any help would be appreciated.

A:

“Collaboration” has become synonymous with “free” in the Instagram age, so utilizing an alternative to that word will probably be a good start. If you do reach out to agencies and clients, know that they are not used to having ideas given to them, so your collaboration could come more in a discussion. I’d suggest DM’ing the creative director or art director or designer to start sharing your passion for your idea. If you have good ideas, I’m sure they want to hear them. Make it a discussion vs a collaboration. Request a Zoom chat once you have a conversation on DM started.