Can you manage a meeting with an ad agency or a magazine in New York?

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Back in the days, I used to go to New York and see everyone I wanted to see with a few phone calls and emails.  Now I had to send over 2,000 emails and make hundreds of phone calls and still not manage to connect with all the people I was expecting to see.  What happened?  The answer is simple.  The industry has changed.

Digital photography has inundated the market with photographers and all of them, me included, are bombarding art directors and editors relentlessly.

via Paolo Marchesi Photography Blog.

There Are 13 Comments On This Article.

  1. I was talking to a client about my monthly e-cards.

    He told me he looks at mine because he knows me, but gets over 50 of them a day.

    Makes it hard to stand out.

  2. Nigel Tufnel

    In the last year, I’ve heard from a surprising number of friends with 10+ years of successful commercial photography work give up completely. I know at least half a dozen whom I never would have thought were struggling, only to find out they’re leaving the business. Same with reps, I know many of them are having a really tough go of it. One I had lunch with recently told me she went 5 months (!) without booking a job in 2012 and she reps some very well known names.

    It got tougher after digital but, the last couple of years have gotten even worse. Blame digital, the internet, crowdsourcing, etc. etc. Just read Robert Levine’s excellent book “Free Ride” and draw your own line through the photography business to get a better understanding of what’s happened. All of this, coupled with the fact that most AD and CD friends I know are rarely commissioning shoots now thanks to microstock, the disappearance of many traditional print media outlets and clients misguided desire to spend their ad dollars on Facebook, Pinterest (!), Twitter etc.

    Yes, the business has changed and for some reason, everyone now thinks they can be a photographer. Mailing lists, “consultants”, endless workshops, cheaper dslr’s etc etc. have led to an absolute glut of “suppliers” while the demand has dwindled significantly in the last few years.

    In short, buyers have even more choice of supplier than ever before and fewer opportunities then ever to use those suppliers. If you want to make money in photography these days, start a microstock website, give away other peoples pictures for free and then sell the whole mess to Getty.

  3. Well, I think a later paragraph narrowed it down more – you have to target better. And you have to spend more time understanding who the decision makers are in the current industry and target them. It may not be who you think.

    And if you see a trend, something most other people are doing, or what a consultant suggests, just run the other way. Your chance of finding success trying something crazy on your own is at least as good as joining the crowd.

    And as far as meeting with people in NYC on a trip. Scratch that. If you want to work in NYC, move there. There is enough talent in the city, that no one is going to hire someone from out of town, unless they have an existing connection with that person.

    And that suggestion on being persistent and patient. Spot on. But don’t be persistent with phone and email. Actually go out and talk to people, get involved. Social media (whether you like it personally or not) has changed the conversation. It’s now a conversation, quality network connections matter.

  4. He has some great work, but it is all over the place. From skiing to swimming, horses to motorcycles–I thought a narrower niche these days was also key. Why would a new client go to him with a skiing project, when there are plenty of awesome photographers who just do that?

    • micro-niche is a sure way to burnout.

      Also, the most successful photographers I know don’t niche themselves in the form of subject matter. That’s not “key”.

      In fact… there is no key.

    • Couldn’t agree more with Tim. That work is all over the place with many cliche images. You can get what’s on that site, if not better, from a stock agency for about twenty-five bucks. The problem in the industry is all discussed here but I believe there is another element. Many photographers consider their work stelar and that to it self is a problem. You need to be critical, create a unique style and move on. I am not trying to be mean or anything but looking at the Rodeo gallery, please. I have photographed a rodeo and trust me, this don’t cut it.

      Another major problem is that many editors, photo editors etc are not visually apt. It’s who you know, the politics you play and with a little luck you are in. We can go on and on on this but it doesn’t worth it.

  5. I hope I don’t seem too negative, but the guy comes off as trying too hard and taking himself too seriously. “Let’s get social”? ” “Did you look at my feature on Communication Arts?”” ” I secretly wanted to tell them to go to hell for not replying”

    He also has no rep.

    Yeah it’s hard out there, so don’t sabotage yourself with a weird vibe…

  6. Not to be a jerk but he’s not doing anything that anyone else can’t do. The top notch photogs like Jake Stangel and Thomas Prior are out there consistently making work and people like them. Coming off as a crybaby will get you nowhere.

  7. Hey you guys, thanks for the comments and feedback. Just started blogging and has been a good learning experience. I didn’t expect this blog to go on AphotoEditor or I would have spent more than an hour to write it. A few points I wanted to bring up and one of them will probably be a separate blog.
    I saw Craig mentioning I have no rep. That is a subject to write a blog on itself. I just wrote a check for the commission of a Wrangler Ad campaign I shot recently that came from my personal promotional efforts. I decided to part from my rep this week and try a different approach. I have been represented for 16 years by different reps and I can easily say that 90% of my jobs in these 16 years came directly from my efforts. Why pay someone 25% commission? You can count on your hands the awesome reps in the Nation and unfortunately is not easy to get in with them. Unless you get in with those few reps I feel you are better off alone. Furthermore, if you are not alone you can’t really get in with one of the awesome reps. I’ll stay alone until the awesome rep comes through. As far as taking myself too seriously or sending a weird vibe if you read the blog more carefully you might see that many of the comments are not meant in a serious way. If I was serious I wouldn’t say “everyone and their mothers”… But then maybe some people would… Maybe I need to be more literal and put in parenthesis (LOL) or a smiley face. By the way, I would love to see the websites of the people who comment on these posts just to get a sense of who they are so the comments can be put into a better prospective.
    Tim, I agree with you, my work is all over the place and I do struggle with that. I love shooting a lot of things and most of the things I shoot are activities I do. So I ski, I ride motorcycles, I climb, I surf, I dive, I fish, I hunt, you get the picture. I truly wish I was just into one thing… I would say specializing would be a better approach.
    Nigel, good comment. One of my good friends who was very successful commercial photographer closed shop and started making Yogurt and he is happier than ever. Things have changed dramatically in the last 2 or 3 years (not 10, we were killing it 10 years ago) and this flooding of photographers has changed the dynamics of the business. A couple of years ago an agency for Miller called me and asked me to do a shoot in the Pacific Northwest for an ad campaign. They told me that their budget was 15k. I quickly put some numbers together and just the raw expenses were over 15k. They found a photographer to do it for 15K. How and why did he do it for 15K? To me that says it all. Thanks again for the comments. Best Paolo

    • Surely you realize these long posts are just excuses…

      Don’t let minor criticism puncture the ego, Paolo. Lay off the coffee and meditate a bit. It’s a marathon.

        • … says the guy writing 530 word comments … c’mon that’s funny, right?

          Paolo, I actually like your work. I’ve seen it before, and yes, in CA. But really, your writings are kind of rambling, negative in tone and don’t help you out.

          Maybe should you focus more on that and less on the identity of internet peanut gallerists. Who knows, maybe we’ve bid against each other ;-)