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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.

 

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.
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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.

 

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