Ask an Agent / How to Impress an Agent
Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column that answers all your dilemmas about the business of photography - a sort of photography agony aunt. Whatever area of the industry you are in, if you have any questions you’d like to ask please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a freelance photographer currently looking to join a photographic agency to further engage more work, clients and reputation. What advice would you give to a photographer at an agency interview? The Do's and Dont's? Is there a particular body of work that agencies look for? The story behind the work? A particular quality to suit the agency?
Looking at my website below would you be interested in my work? www.rebecca-andrews.co.uk
Thanks for your question Rebecca. I’ll give you a list of do’s and don’ts for a meeting with an agent in a moment, but generally speaking if you’ve got that far you’ve probably ticked many of the boxes already. Us agents are contacted several times a day by photographers seeking representation. There are thousands of photographers and only a handful of agents in comparison. So if an agent agrees to have a meeting this means they are seriously interested in representing you.
The reality is that a lot of agents generally only take on photographers that they feel they can fairly easily secure commercial work for. The things they are going to be looking for are a proven track record, an established client list and a strong signature style or identity. If a photographer looks like they are consistently working for advertising and design agencies and winning awards, they have probably got a pretty strong chance of getting an agent. It’s not just the financial gain that makes them an attractive option, representing a photographer who already has an understanding of how the industry works plus realistic expectations really helps and this usually comes with experience. Having said that some agents will take on photographers with fewer credentials if they really like the work, can see the potential and are prepared to invest time and money in the short term.
Looking at your website you certainly have a couple of things going for you, a specialization in sport and several commercial clients and commissions. I think you could improve the presentation of your website however, which will put you in a stronger position to attract an agent to line up a meeting in the first place. Lay out your categories in a clearer and concise way, as at the moment you have some categories by style and some by project title. Portfolio or Overview, Sports, Portraits, Reportage, Commissions, Projects, About would work better in my opinion. I would get rid of Fashion as a section and just include some of the images in the Portrait or Reportage sections. Personally the word Resume is a bit American for me and I prefer About which can also include a client list and contact details. I would also loose the captions in the black boxes, makes it look a bit clunky. You can include info on the shots in About.
Looking through you have some really nice images, but I would recommend a bit of a purge. You have a lot if images on there, some a lot stronger than others. I really like your shots of Basketball:
But I’m not such a fan of the shots with more obvious poses:
Having said that, you do have lots of set up portraits that will go down well in the commercial market. Generally the one’s with a bit more going on, one’s with an interesting composition or humour in them.
Continue focusing on sport and think about shooting a personal project with an idea or theme behind it as this also appeal to the advertising market. So my initial advice to you would be to up the ante, edit and clean up your website before approaching agents. You have the raw ingredients but I think it can be packaged and presented better so the offering is clear.
And then when you get your foot in the door, here’s a few do’s and don’ts.
Make sure you like the agent. The most important thing is to get on with the agent. Does it feel right? Hopefully this will be a long term arrangement, I have represented several of my photographers for more than 10 years very successfully and that wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t get on.
Make sure they like you and your work? A potential agent needs to express a real enthusiasm for your work if they are going to be motivated to ‘sell’ it and work with you creatively.
Be clear on the expectations from both sides. Ask questions about anything that’s important to you, don’t forget this is like going into business with someone. Who takes the portfolios out? What other promotion do they do? What do they expect from you. Do they do production? Who are their clients? Will they want to deal with commissions from all your existing clients. Be clear on the expectations from both sides.
Agree to sign up to an agent who doesn’t have a contract. This is a sign of unprofessionalism and you need to get down in writing a basic business agreement.
Agree to anything on the contract you feel uncomfortable about. I once came across an agent who charged each time they took the book out. Not just for the expenses, which is quite normal, but for their actual time.
Just sign up to anyone who will have you. A lot of agents can really open doors and give you extra kudos, so pick the right one.
Hope that helps!
All images courtesy of Rebecca's website: http://www.rebecca-andrews.co.uk/#/
Please Note: We reserve the right to shorten questions due to space constraints. We reserve the right not to enter into ongoing correspondence. We reserve the right not to answer all questions. Please state whether you would like to remain anonymous. This advice should be taken as a guide only. Lisa Pritchard and LPA take no responsibility for any omissions or errors. Please seek professional legal advice should you require it.