Seattle-based photographer John Keatley recently posted a video interview he did with his rep, Redeye’s Maren Levinson, in which she touched on several changes to the photography industry. Her frank assessment of the market in which professional photographers and their reps operate has earned the video nearly 30,000 views on YouTube.
When Levinson first started, she says, it was enough for a photographer to have solid technical ability. “It used to be that somebody who could light and show up and make a portrait was of value,” she explains. “That person is of no value anymore” in an age when there are so many options available to advertisers and photo editors to fill their photography needs. “The only way [photographers] can offer something that you can’t get somewhere else is if they have their own voice and vision.”
She believes that a photographer’s voice and vision is described in “one sentence” by clients—a shorthand definition of a photographer’s style or reputation. “It’s [the photographer’s] job to fill that one sentence,” she says, through his or her portfolio and how they talk about their work.
Levinson also says the demand for motion work is dictating that photographers learn to direct if they want creative control. She adds that the size of a photographer’s audience (read: social media following) now affects the bidding process for social media work.
Finally, she notes that many brands are bringing creative work in-house, and recommends that photographers reach out directly to the brands they want to work with.
What do you make of Levinson’s assessments? Does your experience reflect what she’s seeing? Let us know in the comments.
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