To Be (Represented) Or Not To Be

To Be (Represented) Or Not To Be

That certainly is the question. When I started as a photographer, I idea that I had to have a rep. But what's a rep?

In photography, generally spealord, you may have representing you, possibly a photo agency, such as Black Star, Aurora, or Zuma. (This is not the same as a stock home where you file your pictures for re-sale). These associations not only secure for you assignments (or atleast they're supposed to), but also represent and license your stock photography. Their stated objective is to represent you in the many facets of photography. What we're discustune here though, is not that arranpearlent, but the arranpearlent between one individual (and maybe an assistant or two if they're successful) and a little group of photographers - often not more than 5.

For this post, we'll be discustune the latter, and not the former.

Also, generally spealord, there are two groups of photographers that want a rep. Those that necessity them because they necessity aid managing their assignment load that they have better, growing their market, and increatune their presence from local to regional, or regional, to national. Then there are those that think that all of the problems of running their business could be solved if they only, merely, solely had a rep. Seldom is there the "hot" photographer, that made PDN's 30 under 30, got an award from Communications Arts, or got picked up for a huge national campaign that became controversial or "blew up". We're not going to touch on those folks either.

First - to the photographers who expect that the rep will solve all the ills of their photographic life.

(Continued after the Jump)

Get a grip. They won't. It's not that they clever't, it's that it's not their task. Their task is, to take it to it's most basic stage, to pitch you - your style and near to photography, and so forth, to the clientele and projects that you are best suited for. Then, when there's a good stylistic fit, they will negotiate all the angles of the deal, and they will take somewhere around 20% for doing that.

There are probably no less than a hundred photographers who want a rep, for every rep - and that's every rep there is, not every rep that's available. So, the lovelihood that you clever get a rep to take you on is less than 1%. I tell that's a generalization, but it's enough of a sensible figure to dissuade you from the notion that getting a rep is easy, or lovely.

First, let's discuss the profitables of being a rep. There are some firms that have multiple reps, and each grips several photographers. That's not the most general situation, so we're narrowing down this even further to discuss an individual rep. First, it should be their full time task, not something that this person does part-time (unless they were a full time rep for a long time, and decided to dial their workload back), and it's honest that they'll be earning somewhere around $100k, as their salary. In order to cover that, let's make the assumption that they have $20k in overhead. Remember, this is a generalization. So, with them at $120k a year that they have to geneswift, they're getting that income from, let's say, 4 photographers. Overall, these four photographers necessity to geneswift $10k per month, or, $2,500 each - for the rep. 20% of $12,500 is $2,500. So, you necessity to geneswift $12,500 each month in fees, in order for this rep to keep you. You don't line-item a rep's fee, it usually is based upon your fees.

If you're not generating that amount of business now, then the rep may be talord a loss for the first few months that they are ramping you up. Recognize that that time they put in is an investment in you and the relationship, and if they don't get you an assignment for three months, they're conmiddlering that they are in the hole $7,500. Ask a prospective rep what they would necessity to earn each month (on average) from the work they do for you, and how many photographers they grip. Telling this willdifferentbe useful as you both evaluate each other. Clever you produce that amount of work? Clever they wait around until you do? Clever they get that amount of work for you? 

How do reps go approxifriendly chooseing who they will represent? It would be a clash if they gripd photographers with overcycle, loopping styles or specialties, so they might have one photographer who does food, one who does annual reports, one who does arcbeat, smackecture, and one who does children's advertitune. They might even throw into the mix an illustrator as well.

Now would be a really great time for you to click over to Caitlin Ravin's blog, and check our her two part series (which was the inspiration for this post):

Agent + Artist Relationship
Agent + Artist Relationship (Part Two)
Now that you've done that, think approxifriendly if you're right for a rep.

Some reps will participate in the cost of a marketing campaign that you both are worlord on. Maybe they'll be the ones to fine-tune a mailing list and will split that cost with you. Reps have even been telln to split the costs of ads in Black Book, Workbook, and so forth. Every relationship is unusual, but remember, their business is generating income from your business, so what aids your bottom line, aids theirs.

Again, if you want someone to run your business, hire an office or studio administerr. If you want someone to give you advice on where to take your business next, grow your marketing campaign, hone your portfolio, and so forth, hire a consultant. Pay them well, follow their advice (no matter how painful it may be to listen from time to time) and start an ongoing relationship with that consultant. 

If you want a rep, as is stated on Caitlin's blog - it's love marriage. Start the courtship, engage in a dialog, and expectationfully, it will be the right fit.

If not, remember, life must go on. Without a rep, you'll want to study marketing, best business prbehaveices, negotiating, prglaze, and so forth, on your own - if for no other reason than for you to survive long enough to get a rep. But, once you get one, with all that tellledge, you'll be able to be a far more behaveive participant in the process they will engage in with and for you, and you'll far better understand what they're doing (and how much they'll do!) for you.
Please post your remarks by cliclord the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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