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In the last post I answered the question above in broad terms: 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. Knowing there are skeptics among us about the true value in having a rep, and what it is that a rep does to get paid, (yours truly worked around and with some big name reps when I was producing shoots years ago; there was a time that I was part of the crowd that believed it was all a crock, too.) we’ll break down the steps a rep takes and how a rep works day in and day out.

For some who aren’t working with a rep currently, maybe it will provide detail into what you might want to be doing on your own, or why you should think seriously about working with a rep at some point. If nothing else, I hope this blog will open your eyes a little bit into what a “typical/traditional” rep does, and alleviate a degree of the cynicism that exists in our industry. I’m not oblivious; I am painfully aware of repping situations that have not worked out because the rep was not doing their job properly. In most cases – it really is a two-way street – and if the artist isn’t doing his/her part, it is difficult for the rep to do a good job. I’m of the opinion that when that is the case, usually the talent isn’t aware of what they are or are not doing that might make a difference. Because there is no degree/school to become a rep, reps handle things differently, and “making a sale” in our business is in of itself such a long process, there is a bit of obscurity to what a rep does and how well he/she performs in some cases.

{1} Identifies your target market: This is a pretty easy concept to grasp and for the rep to perform. This should be a collaborative task with the artist.

If I’m representing a food photographer, for example, I’m going to target any company (and the ad agency they work with) that either makes or sells food products. Right? Easy. But wait… does my photographer also shoot food on location – at restaurants maybe?  Should I include restaurants as part of his core, target market, or as his “B” list? What about catalog food shoots? Is he set up with a kitchen/studio/staff/props, etc. to do this competitively? What about editorial food shoots? Does he prefer to shoot for magazines so he has more creative control? Or is his primary concern commercial/advertising work (more $) and he doesn’t want to deal with lower paid work? What about cookbooks – maybe he has a passion for working with publishing companies on cookbooks because of his childhood spent in the kitchen? Maybe I personally don’t want to spend my time going after this market because I think it takes too much effort for the monetary return, or I don’t feel I’ve got the best experience in that arena – so I have a conversation with him – if he is adamant about going after that segment, I either get a higher percentage for that work, or we agree that he markets to publishers and authors on his own and I take no commission. There are yet more questions to consider: Does he shoot beverages, too? (I’ve known of top food shooters who would not shoot alcoholic beverages because of moral reasons.) What about packaging? Shooting food for packaging is a totally different animal. You can “noodle” a pile of peas for a whole day and get 1 shot wrapped. How’s my photographer’s patience and experience in that arena?

You get the picture. It’s not difficult, but it isn’t as cut-and-dried as it sounds.

The next post will answer a reader’s question about where reps get their training.

The Rep: Marta Aldriedge is an Artist Representative and owner of Big Picture Reps. From offices in Dallas and LA, the firm reps photographers, illustrators, and retouching/CGI studios.

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