Landing a Photo Agent – Part II: Elizabeth Weinberg

Elizabeth Weinberg has talent and vision. PDN magazine called her one of 30 emerging photographers to watch in 2010, and they were spot-on. In this interview by Rachel Hulin, Elizabeth shares how she landed her agent, what it means, and why.

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

I signed with Hello Artists in October of 2010. I was looking to switch reps and I had met with Rachel (based in Brooklyn) in the summer and then both her and Leah (based in Portland, OR) in October; We were having lunch and I didn’t actually know I was officially being asked to join until they said….so, you in? And I was! I was familiar with a lot of the photographers on their roster and they’d been recommended to me by another agent who knew I was looking for a new agency but couldn’t fit me into her own.

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 don’t think having a rep means a photographer has particularly “made it.” There are a lot of agencies out there, some good and some not so good, and it’s the same with photographers. Signing with a bad agency is worse than being by yourself. Early on, though, I definitely thought getting a rep was going to change everything, but I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts.

It’s more about having a different set of eyes on your edits and someone on your side when it comes to negotiations and meetings. You’re now part of a team, a team that is dedicated to a common goal… the goal of getting great jobs and developing your craft. There is the same amount of footwork and self-promotion as there has always been. That has never changed, nor has it decreased, and it never should! A rep isn’t going to do all the work for you, they’re there to complement the work you’re doing.

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

I don’t think clients really care if someone is repped or not. I see that time and again in interviews. I think they DO like having competent estimates put together and having all of the right questions being asked and no stone left unturned, especially for the big commercial jobs where a lot is at stake. It’s obviously great to learn that side of the business, in terms of the financials and fine details, but having a rep makes it so much easier. I also like being a part of the bigger picture, and I respect the other artists on the roster. That is really important!

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

There hasn’t really been much of an adjustment for me… but again, I was surprised when I had my first agent a couple of years ago and thought that I would magically be getting work. This time around I knew that the legwork was going to remain the same but would have the added benefit of additional promotion through the agency. We did an agency promo but we all have our individual promos too.

Anything you miss about going it alone?

Absolutely nothing! You give up a commission when you have an agent, obviously, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to negotiate the numbers as high without one anyway. And the peace of mind when it comes to doing those numbers and all of the other particulars is pretty priceless.

 

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17 Responses to Landing a Photo Agent – Part II: Elizabeth Weinberg

  1. Hardcastle Photography August 31, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Nice insight. Thanks Elizabeth (and Chase).

  2. keito swan August 31, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I see these interviews all the time with people who get with an agency but what I would like to know is how they got the oppurtunity to get with the agency. When did they know they were ready?, what did they have to do? mainly the process of going after such a thing.

  3. Travis August 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Keito, I feel your pain. I have spent almost a decade assisting, learning the ropes, trying to get my own clients, opening a small studio now etc, and I am still shooting weddings and babies to pay the bills and renting my studio hourly to every schmuck with a camera to keep the doors open while they constantly tear the place up. I land maybe half a dozen “commercial” assignments a year that I FEEL like I worked a 6 figures bill to land, and they barely pay 4.. I can do the work, I know its just a matter of marketing and my BARE rolodex. Look at phenoms like Joey L doing gigs of that magnitude at 19… It just proves that while talent is necessary, being at the right place at the right time, in front of the right person is 95% of the game.

    It’s frustrating and I am tired of getting no responses from agencies/reps and I cant afford to advertise in places like workbook etc to get in front of the people who read it. I suspect those are a catch 22, you’ll make the ad money back on one or two big jobs from it very quickly, but laying out $6k+ up front to be in it for a year on a whim isn’t happening for my studio right now. I’m spending 90% of my time (and more money than I feel like I should be) doing my marketing myself and getting nowhere, because I havent got the same rolodex as an agency does..

    I know it sounds like Im being pissy, but I KNOW some people are still making a good living as photographers, and I just cant seem to find the right connections to make that happen for me and I am floating around in the abyss of paycheck to paycheck, only mine doesnt come regularly on every Friday like most of middle class America..

    • Harry August 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      I feel your pain…the jobs that come through are through personal recommendations. Otherwise, agencies look me up for a business estimate to show the client that they indeed called up a few photographers. frustrating. deeply!!! to say the least.

      all the best to you :)

      Ciao!

  4. Pradeep August 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    good advice. thanks.

  5. Mathieu Wauters September 1, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    The second question (“making it”) is not in bold. ;) Thanks for this second post, as usual it is very insightful!

  6. fas September 1, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Beautiful shots, very well done.

  7. David G. September 2, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Philip Rawson September 2, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Nice interview. I too have seen interviews with newly-repped photogs popping up all over the web. While it’s great to hear how a person has become influenced by having an agent, I think it would be more beneficial to read/hear an interview with an actual photo agent to get their perspective.

    My 2¢.

  9. Greg September 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m with Keito…

    I’d love to hear more about the initial process of getting rep’d.

    Did you seek out the agency? Did they find you?

    What (besides have an impressive body of work) do you have to do to get rep’d?

    Thanks!

    • elizabeth September 2, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

      “Did you seek out the agency? Did they find you?”

      I answered this in the interview!

      “What (besides have an impressive body of work) do you have to do to get rep’d?”

      I can tell by the way you phrase it that your’e treating being “repped” as the wrong thing, already. Read what I said again; it isn’t going to make you famous overnight or get you more work. It isn’t this amazing key to success. There’s no right answer. You should have a solid body of work before an agent is the answer. You shouldn’t get an agent if you have no clients of your own or are not getting relatively decent work already, because they aren’t the magic bullet.

      • billy September 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

        ““Did you seek out the agency? Did they find you?”

        I answered this in the interview!”

        you did? I dont see it.

        • elizabeth September 6, 2011 at 11:55 am #

          Right here:

          “I was familiar with a lot of the photographers on their roster and they’d been recommended to me by another agent who knew I was looking for a new agency but couldn’t fit me into her own.”

  10. Abraboyedzin September 6, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    I love Elizabeth’s work!
    I also agree with most of the responses here. Whilst it’s important to create exceptional work, you must get your work in front of LOTS of people and the RIGHT people. Unfortunately the interweb is filled up with folks talking about the exceptional work of the same group of photographers. It makes it seem like it’s a clique world out there.
    Most the information out there that is suppose to help you break into the commercial industry don’t come cheap and most of them contain information you already know. Consultants aren’t cheap either. Workbook isn’t cheap for the photographer who is working day and night to put food on the table.
    Sometimes it’s about being at the right place at the right time and MOST of the time it about the connection one has!!

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  12. Joelle Tarleton March 21, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    Your article is awesome and a helpful idea. I love it and I’ll comeback again for your new articles. Please keep me posted in my email for new topic. Thanks a lot and goodluck.

  13. Marty Maxedon November 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    Great info and right to the point. I don’t know if this is truly the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thx :)

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