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Jasmine Defoore

The problem with this whole blog thing is that lots of great stories get pushed off the page every day and ends up in our growing archives. If you haven’t checked out the categories along the left side of RESOLVE, we think it will be worth your time.

We also know that sometimes you just want to click and not wander, so we’re going to pick some gems from our past posts and throw them back up for your enjoyment every week or so — starting today. This one is the first of several posts from Jasmine DeFoore at Redux Pictures about getting editorial representation and getting the most out of it. Click below to read the original story; her later posts are linked in the intro.

Creating a memorable promo piece seems to be getting harder and harder. That’s why Redux Pictures created American Youth, a new book including original work from 25 of their photographers. The benefits of the project are multi-tiered: building awareness for the photographers and Redux, plus prompting new personal work from the participants, who can include it in their portfolios and promos. And, added bonus, story ideas that editors will know just where to go to illustrate. Jasmine, Redux marketing director and a RESOLVE contributor, explains how it came together.
Young debutantes are presented at their "coming out" at Bal des Berceaux, a high-society charity event at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Young debutantes are presented at their "coming out" at Bal des Berceaux, a high-society charity event at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. ©Mark Peterson/Redux

Q. What was the initial concept for American Youth? Why did you want to approach this topic?

A. Our original idea was to produce a promo piece about one topic, something that art buyers and photo editors wouldn’t automatically chuck in the trash can.

Q. Marcel Saba [director of Redux] came up with the general topic of American youth and then Redux photographers shot new work exploring that topic. Did you know there were specific aspects of the youth culture you wanted to touch on, or did those develop organically from the projects photographers came up with?

A. We knew we wanted a cross section of Americans documented. Most people had their own ideas but as the photographers started sending in their work, we saw some holes in coverage. For instance, we lacked any stories about poverty, or war widows, or something on kids who are into extreme sports. So we assigned stories to fill those gaps.

Sam, 20, and Erin, 19. They have  been dating for two years. ©Erika Larsen/Redux

Sam, 20, and Erin, 19. They have been dating for two years. ©Erika Larsen/Redux

Q. Did you help the photographers in the book with their stories so they would work best for what you envisioned?

A. The advantage of working on something long term is you have time to shoot, look at the work, and then maybe shoot some more. For example, John Keatley did a series on street youth in Seattle, and we were able to offer feedback to him on what was working and what wasn’t. He went out and did more, and it turned out great.

Q. You brought in a lot of guest editors to make the (close to) final edit. Did you give them some guidelines or did the edit style evolve through that process?

A. We asked the editors to narrow the work down to 5-10 of their favorite images from each shoot. We wanted to publish everything they chose but it wasn’t possible, so in the end Marcel and I narrowed it down, along with great input from the book designer, Gilbert Li.

Special challenges arose because we were editing a collection of different stories by many photographers.  We had to choose images that could tell a complete story, but that also worked with the flow of other people’s work.

Q. Aside from the great exposure, what other benefits might a photographer expect from being part of a group book like this?

A. The best thing about American Youth is that it motivated all the photographers to create something new for it. Shooting personal work isn’t always at the top of people’s priority lists, but look at the benefits! The book has gotten a lot of attention on blogs, has been part of the NY Photo Festival, will be on exhibit at LOOK3 in Charlottesville, and was recently reviewed by The Washington Post. We’ve also had slideshows on NPR, The Daily Beast and and a story in PDNThis exposure will continue to bring attention to the photographers which is always a good thing.

Aside from the promotional benefits, some photographers are continuing work on their projects. Gina LeVay is continuing to photograph young war widows. A number of shots are making it into people’s portfolios and their promo pieces.

Don’t miss Jasmine’s other informative posts: “When is the right time to approach a rep?” and “How to have a productive meeting with a rep.”
Party Kids at Tube and Ron Toms in Portland, October 3, 2008

Michael Rubenstein's "Party Kids in Portland, October 3, 2008," an image from Redux's upcoming American Youth book*, published by Contrasto and due out in May 2009. © Michael Rubenstein

Most agent fees are either 75/25 or 70/30.  As far as I know, they don’t vary by level of photography or industry.

At Redux: Assignment fees are split 70/30, stock sales are split 50/50. Photographers being represented  can expect the agency to send out their portfolios, target clients, design, print, and mail regular promotions, help edit your portfolio and website, submit bills to clients and collect payment from them, give an advance if needed, set up meetings for you, pitch story ideas to clients, work on ways to build your portfolio, split expenses 70/30 on mailing/promotion and stories for portfolio use and resale. Photographers considering an agency should ask if the above are done for them, when they will get paid, how often their books go out, and to whom. Same goes for promo pieces.

We do one big agency promotion per year at Redux, which is usually a promo piece featuring the best photography of the last year and that we expect buyers to keep. We also send out individual photographers’ promo pieces throughout the year, usually once a quarter. We also do a monthly Redux email newsletter that goes out to clients. That email includes information on special photographer whereabouts, new feature stories, notable tear sheets, upcoming Redux events, and photographer exhibitions.

Photographers who license stock through Redux can expect that we are packaging and pitching relevant work during newsworthy events, keywording and captioning their work for optimal searching, syndicating their work overseas through a network of experienced and trustworthy international agencies, and making sure their work is available for licensing as soon as it is off embargo.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Do you have other questions about reps you’ve always wanted answered? Leave them in the comments and we’ll ask Jasmine to address them in upcoming posts.

* Click here for more images from the America Youth book.

Be sure to check out Jasmine’s first post on how to know if you’re ready to approach a rep. And check out her next post about rep’s rate and what a photographer should expect to get in return.
A photo by Brad Swonetz, who Redux decided to represent because he fit well with their mission and style. © Brad Swonetz

A photo by Brad Swonetz, who Redux took on because he fit well with their mission and style. © Brad Swonetz (click image for his Redux portfolio)

Finding agencies to approach requires research. There are agencies that specialize in editorial or commercial, assignments or stock. Some do all four, some do just one or two.

There are good lists out there, like this and this at Rob Haggart’s “A Photo Editor” blog (although he still lists Digital Railroad, which abruptly went out of business recently… plus they were never an agency, more of a stock portal). Frank Neimeir’s list is bigger and more international, but it could take a long time to slog through. This list is more specifically geared towards repping firms (who might not do stock).

If you are an editorial photographer, look in publications that you like, and take note of the agency credits that appear next to the photographers’ names. Read the industry trade magazines to see who is shooting interesting commercial jobs and find out who their agents are.

Do your homework and understand what the agency is about. Does your work fit in? Would it make sense as part of their roster? Once you’ve identified who makes sense for you to pursue, start working your contacts to see if you know someone who knows someone at the agency. You don’t need to have an “in,” but it sure does help.

If you are cold calling, introduce yourself, tell them what kind of work you do, and where you are based. Let them know that you’ll be following up with an email and a link to your website. You probably won’t hear back unless you are offering something amazing (more on that below), so call to follow up a few days later (it’s like getting someone’s number at a bar… there’s no exact science to how many days you should wait). More »


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