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Author Topic: agents  (Read 2873 times)
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« on: October 02, 2012, 10:09:48 PM »
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Does anyone here use an agent? If so, can you provide any advice on finding and working with an agent?

Given my information below, would you advise that I look for one at this point in my career?

I am a biologist and imaging specialist, and have developed new techniques for imaging microbes (especially protozoa) with scanning electron microscopy. My images have been featured on seven journal/magazine covers, textbooks, newspapers, and invited artistic presentations in Canada and Germany etc. Please click this link in the User Critiques forum to see one example: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=69556.0

The Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco will feature a collection of my work as a large, permanent exhibit in their new location beginning in April 2013.   

As far as I know, my work has a very strong claim of being unique; as far as I know from reading the literature and attending international meetings in my field, there is no one else capable of working with these organisms and producing these types of images from them. My images regularly elicit a very strong positive reaction from people.

I do not know much about the business side of photography, but am interested in gaining gallery representation, and possibly selling prints on a website and/or stock libraries. I am also interested in doing at least one book.

Would an agent be helpful to someone who is starting to gain some noteriety, in the early part of his career (in my situation), or would you suggest I just go try to go it alone?

Thanks,
Kevin
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TMARK
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 01:23:10 PM »
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You need a gallerist not a photo agent, or reps as they are called in the industry.  A photo rep focuses on obtaining commercial work for the photographer.  Sounds to me that a gallery is the best place for you.  A gallery will show and promote your work, and will try to get you a book deal.  A rep won't do that.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 06:19:41 AM »
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Yes I have an agent.

I also have two galleries that represent my work.

The two have very marked differences and work very differently and should not be confused.

In a nutshell - Galleries are there to sell prints and have exhibitions. That is what they are for and that is what you can expect from them. The standard gallery fee these days is around 50% of the price of the sale. This will vary from gallery to gallery as will who pays for marketing of exhibitions and framing costs. Read the fine print before you sign up with a gallery.

An agent is a different kettle of fish. And the first thing I would say is that you need an agent (if you decide you need one) who 100% believes in you and your work. If their commitment is anything less than 100% it would be a complete waste of time because the agent is going to go forth and represent you and your work to potential purchasers who you would not have otherwise been able to reach. That is effectively what an agent does - they tap a market you don't have access too. If they don't believe in your work they will never be able to sell 'you' and nor will they give it their best effort.

Finding the right agent is time consuming. You are going to have to create a target list and approach them individually and gauge their reaction to your work. They 'know' their clients and they know what 'they' can market and sell and what they cant. Of course, this varies from agent to agent. Your approach is going to have to be completely professional. Don't even think about approaching an agent with a bunch of loose prints or heaven forbid a CD or USB stick.

Get ready for lots of rejection - none of which will hopefully be personal. It is usually simply that the agent will feel they don't have a target market for your work or that they cant help you and thus help themselves.

Agent fees vary - but generally are also in the 50% of the price of the sale. Again, be sure to read the fine print.

An agent wont bring you notoriety or fame. Only you can generate that and IMO it cant be forced. It has to be developed and grown over years of hard and solid high quality work to help build recognition. It is a sad fact that an agent is actually far more likely to be interested in one who has already obtained fame than someone starting out - but that said, there are good agents out there who will see potential in those without a name. I was lucky to find one who believed in me.

You need to prepare to go it alone if you cant find an agent initially. Have this iron in the fire so that you are ready in the event that you do have to proceed on your own for a time.

I dont mean any of this to sound like discouragement. But it is a sober view point.
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Schewe
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 12:07:04 AM »
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As far as I know, my work has a very strong claim of being unique; as far as I know from reading the literature and attending international meetings in my field, there is no one else capable of working with these organisms and producing these types of images from them. My images regularly elicit a very strong positive reaction from people.

"Unique"? Or "Unusual"?

Big difference...what you can technically accomplish, while perhaps impressive (and unique) in the field, may not translate directly to "sales" from a gallery perspective...

Don't confuse different with desirable. It's "desirable" that equates with valuable...different tends to run it's course (but make hay while the sun shines).

I remember seeing (and buying some prints) from a guy at an art show that did X-ray images of common things in an artful manner. I bought a print cause it was cool. Not long after, Adobe used X-ray tech to produce packaging for Creative Suite 2 (see this article)

It was interesting and unusual but...it tended to die out.

Can you make a decent run at this stuff? Perhaps...but I don't think you need a "rep" (or agent) so much as a manager that can direct you and help build an awareness and position.

What you need to understand is in the grand scheme of things, the "common man" doesn't care about much beyond, hey, that's cool, I'll buy that. If you want to send the time cultivating the contacts and have the time to promote yourself, you might do ok. Selling "art" is a very difficult endeavor and jumping from one industry to another isn't easy.

I wish you good luck...but what you need is a body of work that is desirable completely separated from your main industry attachments. Outside of your peers, nobody really cares about the uniqueness of your imagery...only the desirability.

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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 02:24:18 AM »
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"Unique"? Or "Unusual"?

Big difference...what you can technically accomplish, while perhaps impressive (and unique) in the field, may not translate directly to "sales" from a gallery perspective...

Don't confuse different with desirable. It's "desirable" that equates with valuable...different tends to run it's course (but make hay while the sun shines).

Outside of your peers, nobody really cares about the uniqueness of your imagery...only the desirability.





That's a very fine but important distinction that, in many ways, also translates into you making your way in straight commercial photography; it's what sets one guy apart from the others and, I think, is probably described/show through the individual's style, or what some call his handwriting. I don't think you can fake it, though, and I believe it comes naturally, as with most things in the world of art and self-expression. Trying to achieve this in a self-conscious way isn't how I think it will happen.

Rob C
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 09:04:40 PM »
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you are covering a lot of ground there.

A stock agency may be useful for licencing your work for textbooks and possibly some advertising usage.
Since you have a permanent exhibit up it might be helpful to figure out which dealers in the San Franncisco Bay area (all the way down to Carmel) might have an interest in your work and you calling them up and gettignthem to walk through the exhibit with you or failing that, for you to show prints too.

I also recommend you take prints down to Fotofest in Houston and show them in the meeting place or get a gallery to show them during Fotofest. Fotofest happens every two years (the next one is 2014) and now is the time to start making that happen. There are also well respected similar events in New York (AIPAD?), Santa Fe, and Palm Springs.

A literary agent can help you with possible book deals

Also contact Virginia Swanson for the fine art print and book markets.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 11:20:21 AM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2012, 06:35:01 PM »
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Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments. I am certainly not planning to support myself on print/image sales, but I do think there is some potential for some additional income. I am  currently assembling a portfolio--prints of 15 of my best images to show to different galleries.
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