So, Did Your Photo Agent Change Your Life? – Part I: Grant Cornett

Hey Friends, quick note to introduce a new addition to the blog, photographer, curator and uber-talented writer, Rachel Hulin. Rachel brings years of experience shooting and writing, as well as photo-editing for Rolling Stone, RADAR and others, not to mention a stint at at the International Center of Photography. In short, she knows her stuff–bigtime–and will be helping us deliver increasingly tasty goods here on the blog. Please give her a warm welcome into the circle of trust. In this post, Rachel introduces us to a photographer that I really dig, Grant Cornett. Her interview below with Grant is the first part of a 3-part series with the goal of sharing the experiences of photographers who have recently connected with agents/reps. Enjoy.
Grant Cornett‘s a versatile shooter, and has been honing his craft for years, but only recently picked himself up a rep. It’s always interesting to see and hear how that career milestone affects one’s work, so we cornered Mr. Cornett and badgered him with questions.

He graciously obliged…

Tell us about your representation; when did you join your current agency, and how did you choose to partner with them?

It’s been about a year now since the reps and I shook hands.  It came to being through an art buyer friend who recommended I meet up with Rachel Shapiro at Hello Artists.  Initially the meet up was going to be just a portfolio review and chat that turned into her keeping my book until her west coast half Leah Jacobson came into town.  Leah entered the picture, we all had coffee one day and that was that.  I honestly was not looking to be rep’t at the time but we came to a contract-less handshake agreement that seemed worth it.

I think many photographers view getting a rep as somehow “making it”, rather than as just entering a new phase of their professional career. I imagine the footwork and self-promotion continues, if not as much as before, than just a bit differently. What has been your experience with that?

I would not say one has ‘made it’ by obtaining a rep.  There are a few photographers I know whose agents do nothing but take their money from work they had previous to representation, and others have made huge economic leaps just by being associated with their new agent.

‘Making it’ is a bit subjective I’d say, however, I believe that most photographers coming out school or assisting or whatever would be stoked to be rep’t and feel as though they had made it to some degree.  My experience has been good, I haven’t been ripped off and am on my way to doing much better than I ever have.

My reps hustle harder then i ever have, and on both coasts.  They have meetings that get me into meetings etc. .. So I still hustle….creatives and art buyers still want to meet you, they might love your work, but they also want to love you.  I’ve also picked up some good jobs by being associated with other photographers on our roster. So, yes, all in all so far this has been an extremely positive move for me.

Do you find having a rep validating? Does it give you more confidence? Do you feel the clients view you differently?

Validated, no, more confidence, yes. I lack diplomacy at times and I find it helpful to have someone there to negotiate details, which to me is one the greatest advantages of being represented.

What has been the biggest adjustment or biggest surprise about being repped?

The biggest surprise is the support and encouragement that i receive from them.

Anything you miss about going it alone?

I don’t miss a thing, its nice to have gained a couple more moms in my life.

Some of Grant’s pictures and tears.

Thanks, Grant!

See more of Grant on his website.

See Grant’s amazing blog, the livest 1.

See Grant at Hello Artists.


16 Responses to So, Did Your Photo Agent Change Your Life? – Part I: Grant Cornett

  1. Sunny Lau August 17, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I am also looking into the direction of trying to get represented in the commercial and lifestyle sector so these post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Thanks Chase and Rachel Hulin.

  2. Bluestill August 17, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Ex ellent post. I was just pondering the thought of this very topic and now I have a even better insight of having a rep agent. I also picked up on it from the live interview yesterday, and decided it is time to make that move. Thanks for the info.

  3. Kiriako August 17, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Cool Article Chase!

    Find it very interesting…
    I live & work out of Regina, Saskatchewan, and made a name for myself here. But as a photographer from the prairies of Canada, It’s hard for me to find the kind of clients Im interested in working with. I made trips to both Vancouver & Toronto last year to meet with multiple agencies & reps only to be rejected… hard. Not gonna lie, it kinda stung my pride a bit.

    A lot of them told me that I needed to move out there are get more practice. …I thought about it for a while, but in the ended decided to stay here to practice my craft. At least here I’m a bit of a big fish and I have my studio along with a decent income. Where as if I moved to Van or TO I’d just be another small fish struggling to make ends meet.

    My goal now is to become a good enough photographer that clients see the value in flying me out for their projects.

    Sorry, after typing this, I realized there wasn’t to much point to this story, lol… just wanted to share.

  4. Benjie August 17, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    This “representative” idea sounds new to me and so to a lot of photographers here in Asia. But it sounds really promising. How do you think it will work here in Manila?

  5. Don Cudney August 17, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    A photo rep is going to be a lot more motivated to “sell” your work because if they don’t work – they don’t get paid – it’s that simple. Although you’d better find a rep that is more motivated than you are or your just wasting your time – and money. My experience. Check out – Wonderful Machine – they prefer to “share the responsibility” of marketing.

  6. Jeff Flindt August 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Chase, Nice addiction to the blog!!! Thanks Rachel and Grant.

  7. Michael Montalto August 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I was about to throw a pity party with a long diatribe on why my business hasn’t skyrocketed after being in business for all of a few months…but then I realized I need to shut the hell up, put my nose to the grindstone and keep hustling!

    Thanks as always Chase for your informative glimpse into the creative world that I so desire to continue to grow and earn my way into. -mM

  8. hd August 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    interesting, an official supplemental blogger on your freelance-staff, and not just any blogger, but the ultra-connected rachel hulin, sweet synchronicity… good for both of you… who woulda thunk… chase, making things happen, as always. cool.

  9. fas August 18, 2011 at 5:17 am #

    Awesome stuff there. Cant believe its him here.1

  10. caution August 18, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Congrats on your new representation! One word of caution for all parties; try to get something in writing. A handshake contract can become a big problem down the road…

  11. Boris August 20, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Hi Grant,

    Do you know if there are agents available for new-comers that are trying to take it up a notch? By this I mean agents that take a small fee or work only with commission?


    • grant cornett August 24, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      hey boris,

      you know i would look around at reps that seem to fit the work you or would like to do and reach out the them. its important that all the parties involved care equally about the quality and direction of the business, for thats what it is, a business collective. look at who they rep already, the work they are getting and see if thats want you want.

      good luck,

  12. David G. August 20, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Look forward to hearing the rest of the story!

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