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How to Find a Photography Agent to Boost Your Career

Paige Newberry

Jun 1, 2022
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As a professional photographer, it’s likely that your dream wasn’t hustling full-time and searching for clients. As you start your photography business, it may seem like that is what takes up the majority of your time. The real dream of a professional photographer? To focus on the creative work and do what you do best: photograph. When you’ve grown your business enough, it’s time to do just that and begin thinking about an agent. How to find a photography agent that can help you grow your business even further is a challenge many up-and-coming photographers face.

While agents can be an essential part in boosting your business, it’s important to understand what they can and cannot (or will not) do for you. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what a photography agent does, the benefits of having one, how to find a photography agent you want to work alongside, and how to get them on board with your work.

What a Photography Agent Does (and Doesn’t Do)

A photography agent’s main job is to help you as the photographer get new clients and projects through raising your brand’s recognition. They’ll work with their network to gain more contacts, negotiate your contracts and fees, and can even serve as a mentor to help you understand the industry. Also known as a photographer representative, or rep, they are there to represent you to the client.

Because photography agents typically work with multiple photographers and clients, they’ll have insight into the type of work clients are looking for and the details and fees you’ll need to understand as the photographer. Agents can also assist with your branding and help with your exposure.

However, it’s important to remember that a photography agent is not there to manage your business. Think of them as the salesman and negotiator, potentially the marketer, but not bookkeeping or operations. As well, when first working with an agent, it’s important to remember that the agent is not there to guarantee enough clients to support you full-time. Your agent is there to help supplement and grow your client base.

Why You Need a Photography Agent: The Benefits of a Rep

Having a photography agent who’s on your side and wants to see you succeed as much as you do can be one of the biggest blessings to your business. However, just like with any other relationship or partnership, you need to be sure to choose a rep that matches your needs, wants, and goals.

Once an agent has decided to work with you, they take on a risk by introducing you to their contacts and investing significant time and money into your career. Because of this, it is best to first understand what you are looking for in an agent before you reach out to any.

A well-established rep may be more difficult to win over as your first rep because they’ll expect more from you, but they’ll push you farther and likely bring in more clients. They’ll be able to assist where you may fall short in marketing and branding yourself, winning over clients by showcasing your portfolio of work, and negotiating contracts or fees associated with shoots.

How to Find a Photography Agent

Because of the risk that we mentioned earlier and the dedication an agent will make to you as a professional, it can take some time to find a willing agent when you first begin your search. If you’re interested in how to get a photography agent, let’s first discuss what you’ll need to have prepared before reaching out.

  • Are you at a point in your career where you have proven that you can sell your work?
  • Do you have an established brand and business model?
  • Do you have a clean and well-organized portfolio website to share?
  • Are you working professionally with clients on a regular basis?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you’ll have a better chance of winning an agent over. Remember, taking you on within their business is as much a risk for them as it is for you, so you’ll want to be sure it’s a good fit both ways. Just as it is with a job interview, you’ll want to impress them, ensure the agent that you’re a proven professional, and assure them that they can continue to represent their own brand and reputation well.

When you begin researching agents, it’s important to look at the type of photographers they are currently working with:

  • Do they have a similar style as your work?
  • Would you be able to complement the team of photographers working with this agent?
  • Do you offer something that the other photographers may not offer already?

The agent will want you to be a powerful addition to their team while appealing to the clients they have in their network.

It’s also important to look at the location the agent works within. Do they tend to work locally? Or do they have an international team of photographers that they represent? Depending on how you’re looking to grow your career and clientele, you’ll want to be in line with their offering.

Once you’ve found a few photography agents that you’d love to work alongside and you think you’re a good fit for them, it’s time to reach out. Agents are typically extremely busy, so keep your email to them short and sweet. You can usually find their contact information on their website, on another photographer’s website, or on a professional network such as LinkedIn.

Introduce yourself, provide a link to your portfolio, and even offer to meet in person if they’re local to you. Being proactive but not pushy is key. If you haven’t heard back in a week, feel free to follow up and reach out again, but do so with a professional and trustworthy tone.

How to Structure Your Contract With Your Rep

If you’ve gotten to this point, congratulations! It means that you’ve found a rep whom you’re excited to work with, and they’re excited to help your business grow. While you always hope for the best in every partnership, it’s important to protect yourself when it comes to your agent contract.

All contracts may look different, but what you should know is that you can negotiate your contract with your agent. These are the most frequent subjects you’ll want to be knowledgeable about.

Commissions

Reps will get a commission on your projects. The contract must clearly specify what those percentages are for each of you. As well, it should specify what parts of the project are subject to that commission.

Exclusivity

If you’ve built up a client base prior to working with an agent, these clients are called your house accounts. While each rep will handle the commissions on these differently, oftentimes they’ll request an exclusive agreement that allows them to take a commission on any project—old, current, or new client— including these house accounts.

Agent Duties and Payments

Be sure that the contract clearly states what the agent will expect from you and what you can expect from your agent. What costs or fees are you responsible for? Will they be assisting with any marketing, website, or portfolio updating? Are you required to pay for your travel to a shoot or will they be covering that for you?

As well, be sure that the contract outlines how you’ll be receiving payment. Will the client be paying them directly and then the agent will pay you your share? Are any fees taken out of your payment automatically? Any and all details should be clearly outlined within the contract to avoid any confusion in the future.

Severance Terms

If you do decide one day to split ways from your agent, it’s important to have those terms included within the contract from the beginning. Will you be able to keep the clients you’ve been working with? What about your house accounts that you had prior to signing the contract? Do you owe any commission for a period of time after severing the contract? The last thing you’ll want to find yourself in when ending a contract is an unfortunate and uncomfortable situation, so make sure you’re comfortable with the severance terms.

How to Handle Rejection From Your Would-Be Photography Agent (and How to Bounce Back)

Rejection can be difficult to deal with, but the most important thing is how you deal with it. Not all partnerships will be perfect and not all agents will want to work with you. This doesn’t mean you won’t be successful or that you don’t have the talent. You never know what is going on behind the scenes. Perhaps the photography agent has too many photographers already and knows they can’t dedicate as much time to you as they’d like. Maybe your photography agent realized that they aren’t the best mentor to help you grow and know you would be better off with someone else.

Dealing with rejection in a professional manner can help you bounce back even faster. Feel free to ask them for their feedback and any advice they may have for you. Make the adjustments necessary to be a great match for your next photography agent.

How to find a photography agent may not be the hard part. Finding a photography agent that’s your perfect match is. Agency Access’ database of over 80,000 contacts can help you find your perfect clients to boost your business and grow your base. Stay updated with Agency Access’s email newsletter to learn more about taking your photography career to the next level.

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