Working from my initial description of what a rep does (in Part 1 of this series) 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 – here is a brief explanation of item 2.

{2} Obtains accurate prospects and leads: Note the word “ACCURATE”.  The rep or her assistant handles this responsibility, and a rep/agent should be an expert in this. The only collaboration with the artist here should be finding out if there are leads the artist has that he/she wants followed up on. Often the photographer has a company name or brand he/she would like to work with, then it’s up to the rep to find the proper contact at that company, or the ad agency that handles the photography for the brand.  There are a several ways this can be done – and it all falls under “RESEARCH”.

a) Call the company directly and talk to the person who handles the photography. Sounds simple. Depending on the size of the company, it doesn’t always result in complete and accurate information.

b) Utilize directories and search databases. There are a few directories that are free, most are not. I don’t like depending on the free sources because they are not always up to date. (I use them to cross-reference.) It takes a pool of researchers working for a database provider to ensure accuracy, which costs them money. The databases and source directories that Big Picture Reps uses on a routine basis:  Adbase, Agency Access, Workbook, Hoovers, Agency Compile, Lürzer’s Archive.

c) Follow contests to find out about the judges (some will be art buyers, creative directors, photo editors) and about what companies/brands/agencies are using talent similar to yours in your specialties.

d) The other tool that is extremely valuable is networking. Face to face, solid relationships as well as social media. Your rep must be a strong networker and have a good reputation so that other people will want to network with him/her. This is one of the top reasons photographers hire reps – for their contacts, their relationships, and their ability to network to form relationships. Using social media, Big Picture Reps follows blogs of our favorite/target agencies, and we use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I am also a member of ASMP and APA which provides a great network.

I have to stop here and state that networking isn’t just for “research” and finding an accurate lead or prospect. My strong belief, and my personal philosophy about networking – face to face or through social media – is that one must network in order to help other people. I view it as a way of giving back, paying it forward if you will, because of all the help I have had, and to make things easier for others because of the help I didn’t get at times when it would’ve been a simple, selfless thing to do.

In today’s climate, we have to depend on many resources to determine what is an accurate prospect or lead. Once you have obtained that information, it needs to be organized in a simple-to-find, easy-to-update electronic software program.

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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