1) Dear Agent Extraordinaire,
I'm an agent too! My gripe is that when I do a portfolio review for my group we are told to cater food for 30 people or so. I realize that everyone is busy nowadays, but why do they ask me to bring food for 30 people when only 10 people show up! What's that all about? When they make such a request I expect that they will make sure everyone attends!
Dear Feed me!
If there's an extra donut I'll take it! I can certainly understand your disappointment when you order food for 30 people and only 10 people show up. Can you imagine if this was your birthday party and only a few showed up after you spent a fortune on catering for your "so called friends"? Not good. But, this is business and in business you have to learn to go with the flow. I am sure whoever scheduled the review did so in good faith. After all, if you didn't have the quality of photographers for their clients you wouldn't have been asked to present. And, that my dear, is something that you need to understand. Be grateful that at least 10 people showed up. How wonderful to have that opportunity to meet and greet people who can hire your photographers. Really, if only one person showed up it would still be worth it. After all, what's the alternative… not getting in the door? Learn to be more appreciative and that food bill will not look so bad.
2) Dear Agent Extraordinaire,
My rep recently had another photographer in her group bid on the same job that I was up for. I was appalled that she would consider having us compete for the same assignment. I want an agent who is selling me and having her push this other photographer for the same job really didn’t make me happy. How can I let her know that this is not going to be acceptable in the future?
One and only
Dear One and only,
For the most part your agent was asked by the agency to include both of her photographers in the bid. Obviously, the agency saw something in both photographers that would be of interest to their client's campaign. That's a good thing. Now, your work may be similar to the other photographer's but I am sure there is something different when it comes to your photography style and vision. Furthermore, if you had the good fortune of getting on a conference call with the creative team this is where you can really shine. Having an opportunity to discuss your vision and how you would approach the project will help separate the men from the boys, so to speak. Remember, personality, knowledge, and experience are key in this business. You just can't depend on a pretty book anymore. Nor a pretty face!
3) Dear Agent Extraordinaire,
I have been with my rep for a while now and recently my business has slowed down. I don't get it? I had been working but now this downturn has gotten to me and made me feel confused. I am a photographer, I should be working! I had been working steadily for the last few years but now nothing. My agent has suggested that I get out there and meet people. He has suggested that I make "sales calls!" Isn't that his job?
Dazed and confused
Dear Dazed and confused,
Whoever told you that you cannot meet people or network with art buyers and art directors in your community? You have a business; it is your responsibility to make sure you are STILL in business. Today, everyone sells. The market is so competitive that if you choose to take a passive role in your business you will surely fail. Years ago when the business was more of a "sellers" market you may not have had to solicit your work. But unless you have been living under a rock, the world is a different place today. Our business is now a "buyers" market. What this means is that buyers have the upper hand in choosing who they want to work with. You are now living in the "New Economy" which means that everything that once was does not apply today. So stop your whining and get out there. Learn to work with your rep, and I guarantee that you will see your business grow!
4) Dear Agent Extraordinaire,
I know that I should be updating my portfolio with new images from time to time. My agent has certainly been on top of me to provide him with new work so he will have something new and exciting to show. He keeps telling me that I should always be thinking of growing and evolving. But the thought of testing just doesn't appeal to me. It's a lot of work and money. I understand what my agent is saying, and I do not want my work to go stale. How can I overcome this?
Cheap and lazy
Dear Cheap and lazy,
Well first, those two words have to get thrown out of your vocabulary. Photography is an expensive business. If you are planning to be in it you are going to have to spend money to make money. But, you already know that. Secondly, stop being lazy. You are lucky you are not in the fashion business. How would you like to come up with a new fashion collection every season? I doubt that most photographers could step up to the challenge and present new work every season. They should, however, be updating their portfolio and showing new work on a regular basis. You're in a creative field. So create! Those that do get noticed, ultimately get work. So, reach into your bank account and start spending some cash on your business. You'll be glad you did!
**If you would like to submit questions or comments to Agent Extraordinaire, please feel to contact PhotoServe Director Barbara Goldman at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be glad to pass your questions and comments on to Agent Extraordinaire and present answers and feedback for our next column.