You probably noticed that some industry professionals has a representative or agent they work with. But, what agents do and how can they help us?
In this episode of the 'Let's Talk About...' blog post series you will get your questions answered about working with a photographer agent - including the responsibilities of your rep and yourself, when it's the right time to get repped and the things to keep in mind when working with or without an agent.
If you are interested in learning more about camera angles, manual settings on your camera, composition, food styling tricks and tips, or even business practices you can check the previous episodes of this popular blog series by clicking here.
REASONS WHY PHOTOGRAPHERS DECIDE TO GET REPPED
Photographers usually start operating on their own, but they eventually reach to a point when partnering with a photography agent can be a strategic move to help reaching their full potential in a competitive and ever-evolving industry.
I collected a couple of ways how any photographer could benefit from such collaboration:
- Business & marketing development: many photographers thrive in their creative work, but may struggle with the business side of their careers. An agent can handle some of the marketing and promotional efforts, including securing new clients, negotiating contracts, and managing the photographer's brand - which frees the photographer to focus on their craft.
- Connections: agents have extensive networks and connections within different industries. They can open doors to new opportunities and introduce photographers to potential clients, publications, and collaborators that the photographer may not have access to on their own.
- Negotiation: agents are skilled negotiators and they can also set pricing strategies that reflect the photographer's experience and the current market conditions in order to maximise earnings.
- Portfolio curation: agents can help photographers curate their portfolios, selecting the best work to showcase, and also guide photographers in expanding their skill set and work in order to stay relevant and attractive to a wider range of clients over time.
- Direction and assistance: agents also can offer creative direction, scheduling and valuable assistance by handling contracts, model releases, other legal documents, allowing photographers to focus on shooting rather than paperwork and logistics.
Exercise: VISUALISE YOUR PRINT PORTFOLIO
A printed portfolio is an essential tool for us photographers to showcasing our work in a tangible and memorable format. It allows us to make a lasting impression on clients, convey our artistic vision, and demonstrate the quality and diversity of our skills. Photographic work that looks excellent in print format is making it a powerful asset in a digital age.
Regardless if you have the budget to invest into a printed portfolio or not, I would like to invite you to create a ready-to-print version of your first (or next) printed portfolio.
You can dig deeper into the portfolio making process by reading the following free resources:
- this informative post with my dear friend, Kimberly Espinel, about portfolios, and a more technical one.
- then my post from a technical aspect on portfolio creation.
I invited a photographer agent friend who represents many amazing photographers. Welcome, Hat Margolies on board, from Lucid Rep Photographic Agency!
When is the right time for a photographer to start working with an agent?
I think a photographer should already have a good set of bread and butter clients before looking at at agency representation . An agent wants to know a photographer can handle a shoot, know how to talk to clients and manage workflow on their own before working on the bigger shoots an agent might work on with them. An agent will ( in our case anyway) want to rework their portfolio and do other marketing work that will cost money - so they need to be in a reasonable financial state to be able to pay for that.
Should a photographer reach out to an agent or is it better to wait until being contacted?
Either is fine - bear in mind that a photography agent might get lots of emails about representation so be patient about an answer. It’s fine to follow up in a couple of weeks, but not two days later! Or an agent might see your work and get in touch for an initial chat to see if you might be a good fit for their roster.
In what ways does an agent help the photographer's work?
We say getting representation is like getting married in terms of commitment on both sides. It’s definitely not a point for the photographers to take a step back or relax and expect the agent to do all the work. It only works when everyone is engaged in working together to make jobs happen, and we’d generally say it takes a year for the first jobs to come through. It’s also really important to like each other and have the same ethos - your agent is literally representing you to potential clients.
What things are required from a photographer by their agent?
We can do lots of things as agents - set up meetings, handle invoicing, produce shoots etc but we can’t make the photographic work. That’s the key thing that photographers need to be giving their agents - regular new work
that theagent can show their potential clients. A shared diary really helps - plus a discussion before any long holidays or time off work is planned.
Both agents and photographers need to have an online presence that is updated regularly and a way of getting commissioners to see new work. We use email, WhatsApp, messages and of course phone calls and online and in
person meetings with our photographers - depending on how involved the conversation is and how quickly we need an answer.
All agents set up and run their businesses differently - on commission, with a retainer, charging monthly fees - each agent will approach it in a different way. What’s key is that you discuss it fully and are both happy with the terms
of the agreement. Agreeing what happens with house clients (existing clients of the photographer’s) and what happens if you stop working together. if all these things are agreed in advance it makes things much easier. You should
set aims and targets - have a shared sense of what clients you are going for and why.
Agents are often useful at helping you be confident in being able to say no to jobs too. It’s important to weigh up what a job will give you, vs time spent doing other useful things and if it’s not going to benefit you in any way - an
agent can help you say no politely.
A printed portfolio is a non negotiable for us and we will always work with the photographer to make a new portfolio from scratch or to update it regularly. This often takes a whole day or two days - it’s also a financial commitment for the photographer - paying for prints and a portfolio book, but it’s worth it.
Enter competitions - get networking, get involved in your photographic community - be visible and connected.
If your rep suggested a new skill or something missing in your book - pay attention as they are the ones out with it every week and they hear what the feedback is…
We also offer production to our photographers on big projects - so they are really looked after by us - and we know them and their teams, so we can make it as smooth a process as possible.
What advice would you give to photographers who operate without an agent?
It’s perfectly possible to be very successful without an agent, make sure you keep up to date with trends in photography, make connections and appointments as much as you can. Some agents offer a one-off service to photographers who don’t have representation but need one-off help with a big project.
What would you suggest to photographers who already have an agent?
Don’t sit back and rest on your laurels - make sure you give your rep new work, keep them updated on where you are and what you’re doing, talk though new ideas and make sure you are both aligned. Most Reps don’t get paid unless you are paid - so it’s in everyone’s interests to keep the work coming. You are never too big or too busy to do personal projects - that’s
what keeps the work alive. Don’t put all the weight on the rep - you need to play your part too. Enter competitions - get networking, get involved in your photographic community - it all helps!
Make sure you check the website & social media of Lucid Rep:
- Website - lucidrep.com
- Instagram - @lucidrep
- Lucid Rep runs #openhouse throughout the year, where they give people a pro bono hour of time to answer questions and look at projects. Look out for announcements of the next one on their social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org with "Open House" as the subject to join the list for the next one.