Friday, October 30, 2009

Reps talk about Self Promotion....Posted on Stockland Martel Blog

Out of the mouths of reps

On Tuesday, I went to a panel discussion led by creative consultant Louisa Curtis that centered on the photo industry from the reps’ perspective. The event was geared toward photographers, so the questions were mostly about how the reps market their agencies and their photographers; what they expect from someone they rep; and the importance of relationships and networking.

The panelists were Neil Binkley of Wonderful Machine, David Laidler of Aurora Select, Frank Meo of Meo Represents, Laura Reid of Redux, Tricia Scott of MergeLeft, Robert Bacall of Robert Bacall Representatives, and Gary Hurewitz of Greenhouse Reps.

For me, these were some of the most interesting points made at the event, which was held at Adorama:

Product photography is going the way of CGI. Robert Bacall noted that still life used to be his bread and butter. Then he gestured to a water bottle at his side and remarked that you might see that bottle in an ad, but it never actually existed—it was all created on the computer.

It’s not enough to shoot great photos. Many of the reps are encouraging their photographers to expand into video. At Stockland Martel, we’ve been referring to our talent as image makers, an intentionally broad term. Bacall uses the term “media solution providers.”

E-blasts are out, and direct mail is back in. Well, that’s how the panelists first explained their take on the efficacy of email marketing. They eventually acknowledged that they all still send out e-blasts, but they weren’t very enthusiastic about them as a marketing tool. Everyone talked about how art buyers and creatives spend half their day just deleting emails from their inbox without reading them because they are overwhelmed. A print piece that shows up in their stack of snail mail, on the other hand, at least guarantees that the recipient will see the image and the name. Gary Hurewitz said he’d all but abandoned e-blasts a couple of years ago, when he noticed that everyone else was doing it. He figured if there were fewer direct-mail pieces going out, then his had a better chance of being seen. Makes sense.

Photographers need to market themselves and not rely on Mommy and Daddy (I mean, their reps) to do it all for them. No further explanation needed on that one…

This is a relationship business, and you have to network. Get out there and make a physical appearance in the photo community, urged Tricia Scott. Facebooking and emailing are not enough; the old-fashioned in-person conversation is still king when it comes to making a solid connection with someone.

Because this is a relationship business, people want to work with photographers they get along with. The reps have a brand they’re trying to protect too (for the benefit of their talent as well as themselves), and it’s just not an option to send out a photographer who’s going to ego-trip his way through a project and irritates the client. That’s why, the panelists explained, when a rep looks at a potential new photographer, they assess not just the work but also the personality behind it.

You have to spend money to make money. A major cliché, I know. But it came up several times. Bacall once ponied up $22,000 to promote a photographer’s baby images. The promo, which was as clever as it was costly, consisted of Fisher Price View Masters for which he had created custom reels of the photographer’s work. A cute way to get potential clients to look at the work while providing a tangible indication of the photographer’s affinity with kids.

Louisa tells me that she lists upcoming events in her monthly Chatterbulletin, which she archives at her blog.

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Kristina Feliciano
Stockland Martel Blog Writer

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