Thursday, August 23, 2012

Foto Care shares 8 Tips on Finding a Photo Agent

Finding an agent is difficult but well worth your effort if you are able to find a good one. If you can say yes to each of these points below, you are ready to look for an agent.

What does an agent look for?
1.     A body of work that is unique and easy to sell.
2.     A photographer that can easily reproduce the work reflected in his or her portfolio.
3.     A history delivering high-quality, successful assignments / campaigns.
4.     An established business with a list of top clients.
5.     And, that the photographer is easy to work with.

Eight Tips for finding a Photo Agent:
1. Create a Compelling, Unique body of Work. Follow your passion and inner creative voice, but be smart about it–do your homework. Examine the portfolios of your favorite photographers. What makes them unique?  Study your competition, how can you differentiate your work? Why should someone hire you? You must make it easy for an Agent to sell your Services. This is the foundation of your business and will take the most time and energy to create.
Tip: Do not approach a rep with 3-5 images, you must have a solid body of work–a good mix of client and personal work. And most important – you must continually provide your agent with new work to share with  prospects and clients. This should be your #1 responsibility.
Tip: Your portfolio is a tool–a representation of your talent and the type of work you are looking to secure. It positions you in the mind of the art buyer/client.  Be sure your body of work is designed  to achieve your goals and objectives. Remember, you get what you seek.
2. Establish your Go-To Support Team: Agents want to know that you have loyal relationships with stylists, hair and makeup artists, baby handlers, set builders, and assistants; the team that brings your visions to life. While many agents also represent support talent, it is important that you are true to your vision and hire accordingly.
3. Build a Business. It’s a catch 22, agents want to work with established busy photographers – they want to know you can handle assignments, run a business and attract and keep clients. You both have a reputation at stake  for every commissioned assignment.
4. Attract and Maintain an A-List Client Base - Upon meeting an agent one of the first questions will be: Who are your clients? Your response begins to shape the potential of a business relationship between you and the Agent. Note: Your existing client base, typically referred to as “house accounts”, is yours and you have the right to keep these accounts without compensation to the selected agent for ongoing work. Their job is to secure new assignments and clients.

5. Brand your Business: Every commercial artist needs to stand out from the crowd. In addition to your portfolio, Branding your business is key. It is best to work with a professional to create a unique logo, positioning tagline (if applicable), a professional easy-to-navigate website, and promotional marketing materials–all with a cohesive, branded look and feel that represents your business, your work, your style.

6. Become a Marketing Expert: Be ready to talk about marketing your business. How do you currently attract clients?  Do you have a database? Show samples of your marketing materials. What were the results? Together, you and your Agent will review how to “package and sell” your business and create a marketing plan and budget. A good rule of thumb is to spend 10% of gross sales towards your marketing budget. Agents need marketing materials to sell your services.
7. Soliciting Agents: Do your homework – reach out to agents that are relevant to what you do. Send an email or a direct mail package with sample work, web site link, facts about your business. Be creative but to the point.
8. Meeting with Agents: If you are lucky enough to secure a meeting(s) be prepared. Ask questions; you are both interviewing each other. Sample Questions:
  • Ask about the number and different types of photographers they represent.
  • Find out how you  fit in with the Agent’s firm and current roster of talent. How long has the other talent been with the agent/firm? How long has the staff been there?
  • Who are the agent’s clients and what type of work do they typically secure?
  • What do they like about repping?
  • How do they perceive your work? What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Ask what type of marketing they do on behalf of their photographers. Are you expected to pay towards this?
  • Discuss requirements and expectations of the relationship.
  • Ask about commissions and expenses that are expected of you in exchange for this business arrangement.
Tip: Be open to feedback, but remember that everyone has their own opinion. If there’s consistency in what your hear, people might be on to something, but be careful listening to too narrow a scope of opinion.