One subject that consistently comes up in the photography business is that of representation. Questions as to whether one should have a rep, how the relationship with a rep works, when and how to go about getting a rep, and so on are asked often, and the topic deserves attention in each of your careers as photographers.

The Rep’s Corner will be a weekly post by guest contributor Marta Aldriedge, who currently reps several award-winning commercial photographers as well as illustrators and CGI artists. Prior to becoming an independent rep, Marta successfully managed one of the leading commercial photo studios in the US, working with the top advertising agencies and handling such prestigious accounts as Tyson, Kohl’s, Mission Foods, H-E-B, Pizza Inn, and Levolor/Kirsch. She has been in the advertising/marketing industry both in production and client service for over 20 years, bringing unique and relevant experience to the group. It is Marta’s desire to help photographers obtain the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their business related to representation, promotion and marketing consultation. (Unfortunately, her agency is not currently seeking new talent.)

To start, let’s define the typical photo rep and their role:

Photographer’s Representative (a.k.a. artist’s rep, artist’s agent, photo rep):

In the simplest of terms – a rep shows and markets your work, and by broad definition – sells for you. Most relationships between a rep and artist are a bit different, but in all cases a rep is an advocate, or champion of the artist. A rep generally only makes money (commission) when an artist is given an assignment and the client has actually made payment.

What does a traditional rep do?

Identifies your target market, obtains accurate prospects and leads, makes contact, follows up, shows your work through several different means, generates interest in your particular style/category/specialty, estimates, negotiates and helps the artist/talent to land the assignment. (We will break this down into detail in our next post to show how and by what means this is all done.)

The client’s perspective:

Each week Marta plans to bring insight from clients and photographers – both good and bad – based on your questions and feedback.

This week she posed the question “From an art buyers perspective, why is it beneficial for a photographer to have a rep?” Virginia Burchell, Manager of Art Production for TracyLocke had this to say: Advertising is a fast paced industry. When an assignment hits our desk we don’t have any time to waste. We immediately look at people we know first for a project. Why? It’s all about trust and being top of mind. Reps play a huge part in this. They take the time to call agencies, send out promos, host portfolios showings, nurture the relationships, etc. Sending a promo e-mail or cold calling once a year doesn’t make a lasting impression.”

Please let us know what you would like to know about reps, what your experience has been and what will be most helpful to you from The Rep’s Corner.

The Rep: Marta Aldriedge is an Artist Representative and owner of Big Picture Reps. Marta and her business partner, Sandi Allison, rep photographers, illustrators, and retouching/CGI studios from their offices in Dallas and LA. http://www.bigpicturereps.com

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