This is the first in a series of interviews and profiles I will be conducting with a number of professionals in fields related to photography; agency buyers, reps, designers, producers, technology professionals, and more. This series is specifically aimed at the emerging photographer and those taking their first steps into the the realm of of being a professional freelancer, hopefully to answer some of the questions they may have and to help quell some of the fear and anxiety of being in such a complex and ever changing industry. These interviews may also shed some light on the rapid ways in which our industry is changing from day to day due to new technology, ideas in business, and ever improving forms of media delivery.
Today I speak with David Buck about how photographers can better market themselves to agencies and how agencies are starting to view promotions received through certain media channels. David is the president and creative director at Crowly Webb and Associates, a Buffalo, NY based advertising agency handling clients such as: Independent Health, The Buffalo Bills, Kodak, and M&T Bank.
LC: There has been a lot of discussion regarding a decline in the effectiveness of e-promos through services like Agency Access and Adbase. Are these still an effective marketing tool or has the sheer number of users become so overwhelming that its getting harder to stand out from the pack?
DB: I delete emails from photographers to the tune of about 5 a day. so i would say that it is becoming less effective. I do click through on people i know or admire, or occasionally on an image that catches my eye.
LC: Would an emerging photographer be better off putting their budget into printed promotional pieces than electronic marketing pieces? Do simple postcards and mailers still suffice or are agencies looking for more unique and one of a kind promotional pieces to grab their attention?
DB: Generally, I would say that a mix is best.
LC: Have you seen any truly creative or memorable marketing pieces in the recent past? anything that really stands out as a truly effective marketing piece from a photographer?
DB: The first thing that comes to mind is a blog that Forest McMullin of Rochester is doing, from a long term location assignment, different and interesting and in keeping with what he does.
LC: What should young photographers keep in mind when putting a website together that provides an effective user experience for agencies and other buyers?
DB: Well, it is all about the images, no surprise. The site needs to load fast and be easy to navigate. Don’t you hate when the next button jumps around the page, like when a horizontal follows a vertical? Me too.
LC: In terms of website and printed portfolios, how much variation between site and portfolio are agencies expecting? Should the website serve as a sample of a larger work contained in the book. Or should they be direct reflections of each other?
DB: Ideally, the shooter will do a little homework and tailor the presentation to the clients of that agency. the website would remain a general intro.
LC: How important are in person meetings and portfolio reviews in developing a relationship with an agency? What is the best way for an emerging photographer to get their work in front of a buyer in person?
DB: Good question. In this era, it is much more challenging to create face to face relationships. The approach has to mirror the personality and the business plan of the shooter. For instance, if a guy wants to do exotic location stuff, he needs to concentrate on those buyers who need that, and set about systematically developing relationships that will help him reach that goal.
LC: With the current changes and advances in how advertisers, brands, and publishers are delivering media, should emerging photographers be prepared to at least be competent in capturing motion or purposing still images for rich media? likewise, are rich media tear sheets and portfolio pieces becoming more valuable to photographers in the changing market?
DB: it is an ever-growing part of the mix, so yes.
LC: Do you have any tips or suggestions for emerging photographers trying to leverage social media channels for their marketing? Has social media become a viable channel for making one’s work visible to new buyers, or is it more effective as a way to keep current and preexisting clients updated?
DB: Social media could be appropriate for trolling or keeping in touch.Although something more direct or customized like a visit or an e-mail seems better for the keeping in touch part. Social media may be good for people to share what they are doing, Luke is in India! Luke has switched to tea! just getting more people interested in who you are.