Typically, if you’re a photographer or illustrator working in the commercial space, an agent – or production company if you’re a director – will represent you and your work and act as a liaison between you and the wider industry.
Ultimately though, these people will often play a much bigger and more personal role in a creative’s life. “We help promote their work, negotiate contracts, and ensure they’re getting paid fairly for their time and talent,” says Helen Cowley, founder of illustration agency Dutch Uncle. “Ultimately our goal is to help our illustrators build successful and fulfilling careers.”
Cowley and her team do this by providing their roster, which includes the likes of Noma Bar, Klaus Kremmerz, and Ping Zhu, with guidance and resources, as well as giving them opportunities to develop new skills. For Alexandra Lutostanska, founder of AMP Agency which represents an array of photographers such as James Deavin and Kell Mitchell, it’s about taking a creative’s talent and growing it. “We come with an objective eye, a collaborative vision, and a shared belief,” she says. “Your agent will be fighting on your behalf, so it’s paramount you believe in one another and get on.”
As well as being a photographer’s advocate, Lutostanska believes it’s important to also provide advice on career development, offer ongoing portfolio curation, help with social media promotion plus marketing and PR strategies to get their name into the industry, as well as looking for opportunities around book publishing, exhibitions, talks and awards.