Do you need an agent to get work?/Live Ask An Agent/Question Two

© Lian Hong

Recently Lisa hosted Live Ask an Agent at Somerset House, London as part of World Photo London.

Inspired by Ask an Agent, a monthly feature on the LPA blog and photography’s first agony aunt, the live Q&A session answered 6 preselected questions about the photography business and inspired some lively debate. Question number two comes from Lian Hong, a photographer and filmmaker who has established herself in Paris and has a question about the UK market.

Is it possible to set up meetings with Art Buyers and Art Directors in Advertising and Digital agencies if we are not represented by an agent?  I have heard that it is unlikely that without representation, Art buyers will not commission work directly with a photographer.

Would this be true?

Well I did a little survey  and asked a few of my art buyer and art director friends at places such as TBWA, Ogilvy, McCann Erickson, JWT , AMV BBDO and Proximity amongst others and the answer was a unanimous... yes it is indeed possible to set up meetings and get commissions even if you don't have an agent. Here's what some had to say. ( I've kept the comments anonymous)

''No! Not at all! We work with people who aren't represented and are totally happy to meet them - we won't know about them otherwise! If it's a really big job we might hook them up with a producer or suggest they hook up with an agent on a project and help them find someone to do that. Meeting art directors is tricky, but that's the case with agents or not''

''We absolutely would work with someone that doesn’t have an agent, it’s not an issue. We also frequently see people who don’t have agents''

''We see and commission anyone represented or not if we think the work is interesting, relevant and well executed. It helps if non represented photographers use good producers''

''I have to say that I find the question a bit odd! Of course we’d see photographers who don’t have an agent. I love finding new talent and helping them shape their portfolio, and sending them off to see other art buyers in other agencies.  Having said that, there is a bit of a stigma when it comes to commissioning them. Whereas Art buyers love working with photographers I do find that Project Managers would rather deal with photographers who have agents. I think that this is because they (PM’s) don’t always have the extensive knowledge of how shoots work the way we Art Buyers/Producers do, and can get a bit nervous, especially if it’s a big shoot abroad. Again, art buyers will help out and put the photographer in touch with good production companies (I’ve done this many times).''

So there you go! Shouldn't make any difference whether you have an agent but it's worth hooking up with a good production company to show you have back up ( ahem.. LPA Production can offer this service! ) Of course you'll need to patient and persistent and not be put off when you've made 10 calls without getting through to anyone, but join the club!

The regular Ask an Agent monthly spot will return on the 2nd July and thereafter the first Monday of each month. So please carry on sending your questions to and we'll answer as many as we can.