Special Agent?

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects. Week 7

The solitary nature of some photographic practice may be exacerbated by the need to agree fees, contracts and delivery to customers. Agents are there to act as a connector and enabler between the source of imagery and the expectant client, they are marketeer, facilitator, specialist, editor, negotiator, communicator and morale booster.  They bring with their service a cost burden of 20-25%.  They act primarily in the commercial, art and editorial markets.

A polymath photographer may be gifted in some or all of an agent’s skills, but often are not. It is likely that an emerging photographer will realise there is a point in business growth where an agent becomes essential or at least desirable; it should not be decided upon too early in a career.   Establishing a practice approach, a client base and a degree of exposure will be key to positioning and understanding this will be pertinent to making the targeted approaches to agencies that would suit this important relationship. 

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figure 1

One web site that catalogues agencies and shows represented photographers is Production Paradise, see figure 1.

Having a strong web site and Instagram account (with images, judicious use of hashtags and also stories) are prerequisites to any approach to agencies, along with a tangible portfolio.  The relationship, once secured would be an important building block to a blossoming career. 

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figure 2

Creating a profile and being published route to being noticed by agencies. In an interview and a live discussion, which I engaged with, Max Barnett the editor and owner of the London based, film-only, magazine Pylot, discussed the use of agencies.  His advice was “agents can help organise and represent you.  On big productions you can have an agent in fact a client may demand it.  Also, clients can fight on fees/prices, agents can really help with setting the value for your work.  Having trust in an agent is important and an intense partnership”.  In talking about the precursor to agency, Barnett spoke about the importance of clear websites with few images “always pick your best, hero images” and have few ‘layers’ to a site.  He quotes Tina Hillier as a good example of this visual approach, see figure 3. 

Barnett sees Instagram as the quickest and most accessible to gauge a photographers visual language, developing a personal brand is key to consistency and style.

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Figure 3

Practice Application

Through some decent networking I found myself sat with an agent who places work into commercial premises for both rental, rent to buy and direct sale.  She represents an interesting a diverse small group of artists and appeared very interested in my background, practice approach and the recent shoots.  She had checked me out on LinkedIn and Facebook, and as I started talking she was browsing through my Instagram account on her laptop.  This seemed to be very much to the ‘script’!  We have agreed that she will select 10 images from 15 that I am due to submit and then we will contract for her to have exclusive access to those images for a period of 3 month initially and then that may extend.  The small print of the draft contract is satisfactory, so I am minded to contract with her.

I will write more about this at the point where the contract has been signed and settled into flow.


Production Paradise https://www.productionparadise.com/

Pylot Magazine http://www.pylotmagazine.com/

Matt Barnett https://www.instagram.com/maxbarnettphoto/

Tina Hillier https://www.tinahillier.com/


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