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Does a Photographer Need an Agent

28 Nov

Does a photographer need an agent?

That depends.  Photographers come in a wide variety and range of talents.  With the immense growth of photographers since the advent of the DSLR cameras and the rise of social networking sites it really seems like everyone with an expensive camera decides to call themselves a photographer.  My first word of advice is do not listen to what everyone is telling you and take some time to really evaluate your work.  Many new photographers get an exaggerated sense of their own ability and believe that they are immediately ready for the big time. Just because your friends and family think your work is amazing don’t go out seeking an agent right away.

The department of labor reports that the average photographer earns about $29,000 a year, but this is almost surely slightly exaggerated because of the numerous photographers that probably don’t pay taxes.  That said there are a lot of starving photographers, just as there are starving actors.  It is going to take some real talent to get noticed.  Now the average photographer is probably in the business of what the industry calls meat and potato photography.  This is your typical senior portraits, weddings, events, family portraits, and even boudoir photography (which is not always that glamorous).  If this is the type of photography that you are interested in shooting then you probably don’t really need an agent, but you do need a good plan to market yourself.  When it comes to this kind of work it really seems that it is much more who you know in town than what your talent level is.  So go out shoot, and build up a base of clients that will help you with the word of mouth marketing.

So who does need an agent? 

Fashion photographers.  If you are looking to actually make money shooting fashion photography then it is almost a must.  There are a ton of photographers on sites such as Model Mayhem and other sites that work mostly on a TF basis.  This type of work is great to help build up your portfolio, but when it comes down to it, it does not pay.  If you are a fashion photographer, lets face it your probably more artistic than you are business minded.  In order to book a top paying client you are going to need to get an agent, and they are not going to come to you.  If you want representation you are going to have to track down an agent, probably in a major city like Los Angeles, New York, or London.   Once you find one it is likely that they already have about a dozen photographers on the books so the search will be a long one, but if you are persistent and have a great portfolio you should be able to get noticed.

Let me know what your thoughts are?  Have you had any success stories with finding an Agent?