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My name is Jeffrey Thayer and I am a photographer. I am early in my career, but I have been using the camera as a medium for expression as long as I can remember. I can’t paint or maybe I’d be a painter.
At the moment I am trying to push my career up a notch. I have great clients, from boutique designers to smaller editorial, but I want more. I want the clients with huge visions that are a challenge to create and who want to make them with me. I want clients that embody the laughter in life and fun lifestyle that I enjoy.
So how does one go from being an assist to a photog? That was the question I asked myself — and to be honest, I needed some help. I have worked with a lot of great photographers in the Los Angeles area, as well as some of the ones who came to town for shoots. I have shot pre-production stuff for one of today’s most in-demand photographers … and all of this means nothing in the end.
So I started asking these guys and gals I work with what I should do to move forward. I also started attending every possible APA event on these topics. I went to portfolio reviews and was told I seemed to have multiple personality problems. I narrowed my vision and started to do some e-mail blasts, which got a good reception, and then did a postcard.
But budgets are tight due to this awesome economic climate, and I still wasn’t getting the calls I wanted. So I hired Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua at Burns Auto Parts, who told me I was using too much of a “shotgun” marketing technique. I was sending things to people who probably wouldn’t hire me and I probably wouldn’t want to shoot for. What I needed to be was a self-promotion sniper. So Leslie helped me fine-tune my contact list and market only to the clients who use images like mine and the companies/magazines I want. We also trimmed a couple more images out of portfolio.
One good friend kept telling me go to New York and get in front of the people I wanted to work with. “Do whatever you have to,” has been a common suggestion. So has, “Get in front of them and sell your personality, your image, and who you are.” So I scheduled a trip to NYC.
I spent the last week and a half talking on the phone and listening to voice mails. What do I do with voice mail? I hadn’t thought about that yet. I checked with a friend who shoots for some of the mags and clients I want. He said, “Just keep calling.” I feel a little pushy but, heck, when I get uncomfortable good stuff normally happens, so I went back to the phone. I mentioned to the individuals I got a hold of that I was going to be in the city for a few days and asked if I could meet with them.
It has been daunting — no one answers the phone. Luckily Communication Arts recently interviewed me, so I used that as leverage and did a specific New York E-blast. So far I have appointments with some leading reps, some great photo editors, and a few art directors. Five minutes here, five minutes there, but it is a start.
I have tried to offer coffee or what ever else I can to get in front of the people I want to shoot for. The good news is that some will see me. Others will just get my mini-book and others, well, maybe next time. These guys are extremely busy and get hundreds of request like mine every day. I am truly grateful for the time that some are giving me and I am not offended in the least that others cannot. I try not to take anything personally — though it is hard sometimes — and to learn from the experience.
I also get to visit with some photographer friends in the city and to get out of town. What could be better? I’ll let all of you know how it goes.