Recently I received an email from photographer Scott Teitler that struck home and was so significant I felt compelled to share it with each of you.
This particular letter was directed towards photographers, however I think it’s extremely relative to all the creatives we work with throughout this business. Much like Photography Rep, Heather Elder mentioned, I too feel extremely fortunate to work with such gifted people. You continue to inspire me and make me love what I do more and each day.
Below is the first of three installments of ‘An Open Letter From A Photographers Agent’ I hope you find it as honest and inspiring as I have.
DEAR PHOTOGRAPHER. AN OPEN LETTER FROM A PHOTOGRAPHER’S AGENT.
In the 15 or so years I have been in this business, I have represented almost 20 photographers and consulted with countless more. I am proud to say that many of the photographers I represented when I first started are still with me today. That is one of my most proudest career achievements.
I share this with you because I want to be clear that the letter below is not based on any one experience with any one photographer. Instead, it is based on years of experiences with not only my current photographers but with the ones I consulted with, gave advice to in conversation, ended relations with, discussed with other reps, read about in articles, listened to at speaking engagements, met at events and kept in touch with over the years.
I write this letter in the hopes of starting a conversation between agents and photographers that will remind us that we are in this together; each of us trying to make the other a better photographer, agent, partner, therapist and friend.
We have been getting to know each other for almost 20 years. We have experienced the high of the Dot Com together and the low of the crash. We have created websites and redone portfolios together. We have traveled, made new friends and created great imagery. We have worked together to reframe our businesses to survive in a new market. We have argued, disagreed and ultimately pushed each other to be better at what we do. While it wasn’t always easy, I do know we are all thankful for each other and the opportunity to work together in such a creative industry.
Looking back over our experiences, I thought it would be valuable to share some insights into what motivates agents and makes a successful photographer/agent partnership.
• If we both agree that we should partner, it will be because our goals are in sync, we believe in each others talents and trust that we will do right by each other. It will be because we have similar values and a shared approach to this business. And, assuming all of those things exist, for us, it will ultimately be because you were nice. Yes, just plain old nice.
• We both work very hard. We both are dedicated. We both are passionate about your images. You choose to be a photographer because you can’t imagine doing anything else. We choose to be an agent because you can’t imagine doing anything else. Let’s help each other stay true to these ideas.
• Your talent and creativity are the most important part of the process. If you didn’t produce great work that inspires you and others, we would no longer have a role. We recognize that and value that you have chosen us as a partner to help guide you.
• An agent is a valuable part of the marketing process and a direct link between the creative community and your work. We have our fingers on the pulse of what is going on out there and we work hard to stay connected. We will have feedback for you that sometimes you will not like and we hope that we can talk about it reasonably and honestly.
• We are your sales and marketing managers and if you do not believe in either of those things and instead think all you need is for you work to speak for itself, you are mistaken. In today’s commercial photography market, you need to promote yourself and your work in many different ways; more so than any other time in our industry’s history……
To be continued next week…