I received this note from a photographer whose work I enjoy and who you might say is a few years past emerging:
Work has still been pretty good this year. it’s strange because it’s slowing down, but the jobs I’ve been getting this year and the last 2 are bigger paying ones so that means the luxury of more days off to work on strategizing my business. I’m getting ready to go to press with an elaborate promo I had designed that will probably be mailed out at the beginning of the year. I went back and forth about the fear of whether or not promos were a waste and just end up in the recycling bin, but I decided to go ahead and do it. Your interview with Selina confirmed my intuitions about promotion and the business so thanks for that.
I went out to New York twice this year to meet with reps and get a feel for their interest in my work. I haven’t had a rep for the last few years and it gets to be too much to handle at times, but all in all it’s worked out fine. I’m finding now, especially since I’m also doing more fashion and would like to pursue fashion advertising, that it would help to have a rep that has a good foothold in the fashion world and the ad work as well. I have my heart set on going with a bigger established agency so I’m holding out until I get with one of my top 3 choices. What the hell, live the dream, right?
I wanted to let you know since you asked that I have directly gotten work as a result of PDN 30. The biggest job was an ad campaign for a [redacted] company at the beginning of this year. The ad agency found me because of PDN. So yes it was great publicity. My book was called in for ad jobs from art buyers I never met.
It was very interesting to hit the pavement in New York in May of this year, for the first time since 2007 (i know, i know). I was there for 2 weeks showing my book to reps, art buyers, and a few magazines. I couldn’t believe how difficult it had become to get someone on the phone or get an email reply. I’ve been showing my book in NY 1 – 2 times a year since 2000, and on the last trip, I still had a rep calling to make those appointments, but this time around, even the people that I usually would meet with in the past were seldom returning my emails. It was depressing and is what everyone talks about, no one has time to do their job and answer phones and meet with people.
In August I decided to try a different strategy, referrals. I had producers, art directors and photo editors contact people that I wanted to meet and make an introduction. It helped dramatically, People need some sort of filter and I don’t blame them. I get emails from assistants all the time and chances are I’m not going to hire them unless someone I know and trust can vouch for that person being a good assistant.
I remember my first trip to NY in the fall of 2000. I was halfway through school, wide eyed and optimistic, sitting in Starbucks on my phone, cold calling and people were answering their phones saying “come on over.” I scored 35 meetings that week including my first editorial gig.
Because the market is changing and there seems to be more photographers out there, things may be more difficult now than they were years ago, but (I’m sure this has been said on your blog) this will just force people to be more creative to figure out how to rise above the rest. There’s no formula for this one, it’s going to be a different path for each photographer.