What a Rep Wants; What A Photographer Needs
Written by Jennifer Perlmutter
It is the ultimate catch-22 in the photography industry: a photographer wants/needs a rep but does not have the client base to attract one. At the same time, the photographer cannot get said client base without a rep.
Why is this the case?
It is my belief that the saturation of the marketplace has presented an imbalance to the once level playing field.
Reps want and need successful talent while buyers often want vetted talent since they are typically trusted with large sums of money and their clients’ creative needs.
Where is the balance?
Many reps are still willing to work with photographers who they believe in IF they are getting the bites but not necessarily landing the projects. This tells the rep there IS existing interest and that they can push that curiosity further with your existing nibblers and their personal client base. This perfectly illustrates a rep’s first WANT: a working photographer or one with significant interest.
What does this mean for the photographer in terms of what they NEED from this situation?
Photographers need to partner with someone they trust has their best interest in mind. Someone who will not only go after an existing client list, but who is able to identify new avenues for your work. If you aren’t getting the nibbles, make sure to keep your targeted marketing efforts up!
Let’s focus on the word PARTNERSHIP for a moment. Reps WANT a photographer who will be their partner in promotion. The only way a rep can continue reaching out on your behalf is if you are consistently providing them with new work to share with creatives and buyers. You need to perpetually be prolific. Be the Madonna of photography and change and adapt with the times. Keep up your portfolios, social media, networking…these are all attractive opportunities to a rep.
What do you NEED from this arrangement?
You need a rep who is going to give you direction and feedback. Someone who can meet with buyers and glean insights as to what you are missing in your portfolio or what would make it stronger. If you have a great portfolio, a kicka** personality, and a buttoned up production, then you need to be guided and challenged to be prolific in ways that will further assist in selling your work. At the end of the day reps and photographers want to make money and create great imagery.
Reps WANT a photographer with passion and drive.
Ideally, an artist who is supporting their own outreach and not just relying on the rep to go out there and do all of the work. Reps can speak on your behalf but at the end of the day YOU are the artist. You are the person creatives want to meet. You are the person creatives will be on set with. You are the one bringing their ideas to life. Reps wear many hats. One hat is to sell, another is to negotiate and close. Their last is to manage your career. All of those things combined keep a rep very busy.
So what do you NEED from this?
You need a roster you believe in; a mission you believe in. You need a person or people you believe in to handle your career with honesty and integrity. You need someone willing to share information so you have the ability to navigate this ever-changing landscape. You need someone flexible who is willing to compromise on terms (as they are different for every rep). You need someone as excited about your career as you are.
What a rep WANTS and what a photographer NEEDS is simple:
Partnership. Trust. Passion.