[by Carolyn Potts]
“The whole is greater than the sum of parts.”
The relationship between a photographer and a rep or studio manager must be based on a deliberately created, synergistic relationship.
Synergy occurs when two individuals (or companies) are made stronger by combining their different– yet complementary– skills and abilities. It brings value to both.
Photographers often called me to say they wanted me to rep them because they had no work and they hated selling themselves. While I could empathize, that’s not exactly the kind of business proposal that I wanted to jump at.
Photographer/rep relationships are often compared to marriages. Can you imagine a first date that starts out with “I’m lonely and desperate for love and attention. I can’t stand it anymore. Will you give me some love and attention?”
The pain you feel when the phone has stopped ringing cannot be healed by a rep or anyone. That’s an inside job and one we all have to deal with.
But remember, you are not your fears. You have the power within you to change your situation. It begins with self-honesty. You must be willing to take the first steps to assess where you are in the marketplace. Pretend you’re a client. Google for your style of photography. How do you stack up?
A rep works with those at the top of the heap. They want someone that’s at the same high-level as the rest of their stable. The only reason a rep takes on a photographer is to fill a hole in their roster.
A rep is in business to essentially offer a buyer a menu of photography specialties. When a buyer is hungry for a photo solution, the rep wants to be the first one the buyer calls to fill their need. Solving a buyer’s imagery needs is the focus of a rep’s business– not improving a photographer’s bottom line. That’s the side benefit.
Take heart. It’s not all one-sided. A rep may need you just as much as you need them. Things change. Markets evolve. Talent retires or moves away. The proactive photographers who kept in touch, were the first ones I contacted when I had an opening.
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is failing to keep in touch with a rep (or anyone!!) after they’ve said “I like your work but can’t use you now but do keep in touch.”
If you approach a rep or a client with an understanding of their needs and make a pitch on how your skills might add value to their business, you will stand out from the pack and the opportunity to enter into a synergistic business may soon be yours.
Carolyn Potts, creative consultant & former photo rep has edited thousands of portfolios and landed millions of dollars of assignments for photographers. Find her at www.cpotts.com, on Facebook and Twitter @PhotoMktngCoach