Finding A Rep or Starting A Collective

- - Photography Agent

Good piece by Nick Onken on his quest to find a new rep (here). This part rings true for me:

“The roster of talent is a huge factor as well as I’m realizing. Being repped by an agency that only reps a certain level of talent, automatically takes you to that level(at least it appears that way from the outside). Brand association is huge, and by associating with other brands that are maybe bigger than you, creates a credibility.”

One of the big reasons for Photo Editors to work with a rep is not the photographers we already know but the people we’ve never heard of, who they basically endorse and lend considerable expertise.

This new photographers collective Luceo Images (here), got me thinking about how photographers can just band together and form an agency and certainly there’s a few high profile photojournalist collectives that exist and seem to make it work.

David Banks, one of the founders with Luceo told me this, when I questioned him about the value a collective creates on the client side without the rep to “vouch” for the photographers:

“The other reason for all this is our belief in helping each other out and being open in the photo industry rather than the one-for-all mentality that is so engrained. We can all work together to edit new projects, work up budgets, make pitches and generally have power in numbers.”

Makes sense and it’s not something I’d considered since this probably doesn’t occur with the reps where the photographers are brought together by the rep and not each other.

(Onken via, A Visual Society)

There Are 15 Comments On This Article.

  1. If a collective does not have someone, in New York for example, actively pitching the work or actively getting work for the photographers, is a collective then no more than a group of friends helping each other out, not helping the collective as a whole?

    Or is the an antiquated question in this internet age?

  2. i like the idea of photographer finding each other and banding together to form a collective group. finding a rep has been challenging and not sure if for me it is the right thing, yet. thanks for the post.

  3. Good stuff…one thing though.

    When a photographer like Nick gets a rep like Greenhouse, or any other “name” agency, how would that compare to a collective like Luceo in the eyes of the people hiring a photographer. I for one would think that having an established agency who is known among the PEs would give more credibility than a group of photogs helping eachother. I like the idea, but just a little skeptical on how it all works.

    Am I off in my thinking or missing something here?

  4. I love collectivity! Even if it’s just a Flickr group for the city you live in there is a lot to gain from inclusivity. I’ve gotten and shared jobs through the Pittsburgh Flickr group and love to meet with new shooters just to see what I can learn from them.

  5. well, in the fine art sphere there seem to be new collectives popping all over the place.

    what’s interesting with the web is that not only are photographers banding together, they’re really, in essence getting into publishing as well. you can’t really have a respectable web presence without a site that presents the work in a refreshing manner.

  6. i love the idea of a collective. how would the money work? everyone just takes their normal fee? would there be staff? an office? a commission?

    ever since digital rolled into town, most of the photographers that i used to see are now relegated to their little private workspace, as i am. face crammed into a computer all day, and not so much socializing and comparing notes. this is one downside of digital. there is no lobby of an e-6 lab to bump into friends any more.

    how would this be different from Wonderful Machine? how does that fee structure work? for editorial, paying a rep 25% of nothing is a pretty steep rate chart; maybe the collective is a better way. wouldn’t VII be a collective? somebody’s got to write that check for the office space.

    with SO many individual photographers out there, it does seem to give you a leg up to be a part of something bigger. somewhat like a mild stamp of approval. something to say, hey i’m not a flake. but then when you see how many people listed on greenhouse, you wonder if they’d remember your name?

    if not a collective, then for sure have a good stable of friends around you, to bounce ideas. again, we aren’t our own best editors. and you simply need human contact.

  7. I am also a member of Luceo Images and wanted to address a few questions here. Editors take us very seriously. They like the refreshing outlook of the group. As David wrote, it’s a different mentality that editors seem to be very open to.

    Some of us are still repped through other agencies. But this collective is for us. It’s one more way to get our work out there.

    I am based in Vietnam and to be honest, most of the promoting the group does back in the states does not directly benefit me yet. But it will come. I am currently attending Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan for the purpose of promoting this collective. We care about each other. When my fellow group members do well, I do well. That’s just the way it works.

    As for profit sharing and what not? We all keep our own commissions. They earned it. We split costs on promotions and group details.

    The idea is growth here. As the work grows, the collective grows as a whole. I greatly respect the work of my fellow group members. The future seems bright.

  8. Nick, great post… I would like to ask, how long it took for you to get a rep? From the time that you and they decided to become partners, how long did it take for them to add you to their roster on their site? Has it made a difference to the amount of calls you are getting after people have learnt that you are repped by such a well know agent? Also Greenhouse reps have two reps, are you repped by both of them or one in particular? Would be very interesting to see how your work load increases. I noted that you are on the West Coast, have Greenhouse got you any jobs on the East Coast yet?

  9. Nice post.
    We are a collective, from Brazil.
    We’ve been working tigether for 5 years and it’s getting better each day.
    The difference is that we are a few photographers and other people doing pre and pos-production, and we use the company name as the author.
    We work for magazines, ad agencies, pr offices and doing our own stories.
    We had shown ou work in many exhibitions in Brazil, Mexico, France, Indonesia, Chile, Etc.

    Take a look and tell us what you think.



  10. Hi
    just one question.
    what about young photographers ? Most of the guys in collective’s are already known world wide. For them its a matter of option for example Philip Blenkinsop did’t needed to run after photo editors for him forming Noor was a step ahead. If he wants he can go solo any day and do great work.( I just love and work by their photographers)
    What I’m trying to say is what about hundreds of silent young photojournalist around the world. The sole objective as far as i can understand is to form a group to bring out the ‘unseen and unrestricted work from the unknown’.
    I just love concept of a collectives but what i would like to see is what VII has started know ‘Mentor’ and ‘network’.

  11. Can anyone recommend a rep for someone just moving out on their own? There are so many reps to choose from, maybe someone here has some advice? Would a collective be a better choice? Are reps (or collectives) willing to work with unkowns if the imagery is strong enough? Thanks!

  12. @Jodi: The process took about 3 months. Sometimes it takes less time, sometimes it takes longer. I made sure I was thorough about my decision. I had front runners all along, infact, there was another agency that was the front runner until I went out and met with Greenhouse in NY. I weighed all the differences at the end. When I met with each rep I took the same list of questions to each one and wrote the answers down do I could review at the end of the interviews.

    Once the decision was made, I was up on their site in after the weekend. I didn’t even realize it until someone pointed it out to me. Some reps are slower than that..

    I’ve definitely seen more bids coming in the door after signing with them. Still a lot of momentum to gain, but so far so good. They have 4 reps working there and soon to be bi-coastal.