Welcome to our 9th series of posts where we share the results from our conversations held directly with community leaders about top of mind photo-industry issues. Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Kate Chase and Matt Nycz of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.
Since our first event with Art Producers, back in March 2012, we’ve criss-crossed the country from LA to NY to have roundtables with not only art buyers but also agents and photographers; co-hosting 2 of them with our friends from Agency Access and Workbook.
As Community Table was originally inspired by LeBook and their networking event, Connections and since a Connections San Francisco was in the works, we felt the timing was right to once again invite some of the countries best artists’ agents to join us at the table while they were in town to attend.
Thus invitations were sent, RSVPs rolled in, questions were drafted, and over dinner came a tremendously thoughtful and robust conversation that covered topics that ranged from not only what keeps these agents motivated and inspired but also what they have learned during their years on the front-lines of selling and marketing creativity. We also asked them their thoughts on what is now necessary to survive in the current picture-making industry. And then as always, over dessert, a one-word summary from each of us to describe what we think is the current state of our industry.
We have heard it be told that talent agents have been around since the 1880’s so while we know a lot has changed since then, the core values still stay the same; successful artists’ agents do not happen by accident, it takes a lot of time, dedication and commitment to promote talent. Which to us means we can’t even begin share how much we appreciated that these agents spent some of their very valuable time and business insights with us.
As a reminder, each conversation starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing. We decided this was the best way to bring you all to the table with us, share the experience as close as possible to how it actually happened.
We would also like to take this moment to dedicate this series to our fellow agent, Alison McCreery — our thanks for all you did for the photo community. We miss you.
Please note, there will be 3 posts shared over the next two weeks. Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for the latest installments.
Agents in attendance (though we missed you Lauranne Lospalluto):
Jenifer Guskay and Kelly Montez, Apostrophe
Sarah Laird, Sarah Laird & Good Company
Tim Mitchell, Tim Mitchell Artist Representative
Janice Moses, Janice Moses Represents
Deb Schwartz, DS Reps
Kate Chase, Brite Productions
Matt Nycz, Brite Productions
Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
And with that, we welcome you back to the table.
How do you stay inspired?
Deb Schwartz: Personally I am inspired by my family right now. And I also find inspiration from my artists. When they are inspired and excited, so am I. It is the thing that keeps me loving this business and keeps things fresh. And I exercise every day for my sanity!
Kate Chase: Do you think your artists know that you need to be inspired?
Deb Schwartz: I am not sure and I am not sure it matters. The fact that I am inspired keeps them with me and the fact that they are inspired keeps me working hard for them.
Janice Moses: Deb just said everything I think and feel. Inspiration comes every day from running, from children, from artists, from everything in my world, even the dark days and the cloudy days.
Sarah Laird: When I think about staying inspired, I remember the recession and because of that we all became much more creative and dug in harder. The world is in an interesting place now so what inspires us will be evolving. I am an expansive, next-step thinker. Right now I am trying to grow and evolve my group’s involvement with multi-platform projects and that is inspiring.
Kelly Montez: I am motivated by what is happening in my artist’s lives – are they buying a house, having a baby, etc. I like seeing their lives grow. I am close to my artists and it is more than a business for me. When you join Apostrophe you join my family. I want to be part of their lives. And likewise I want them to know me, my husband and my daughter.
Matt Nycz: I would say it is a mix of personal projects and being busy solving problems.
Tim Mitchell: Solving production problems is a big inspiration for me but so is “new media”. There is an evolving world in our business and I love being part of it.
Jen Guskay: I have been struggling with this lately. I work on my own much of the time and it can be isolating and therefore challenging. A night like this is very inspiring for me, learning from others and hearing everyone’s experiences. I love what my photographers do so I have to make sure not to get mired down in the day to day and stay connected to our smart, fierce, amazing community. Just knowing that we work with such interesting people keeps me coming back to my computer each morning.
Kate Chase: After years of being an artisan retoucher rep and managing post, I wanted to participate in the image making process from the ground floor up. Through that journey, I find I am most inspired now with being involved in marketing and collaborating with the artists on theirs, exploring and testing new ideas around messaging and finding new audiences.
What one word would you use to describe the industry?
Janice Moses: Intense. Everyone is wearing multiple hats and doing it all at lighting speed.
Sarah Laird: Expansive
Kelly Montez: Changing
Matt Nycz: Volatile
Tim Mitchell: Metamorphosing
Jen Guskay: Evolving
Kate Chase: Diversifying
Heather Elder: Frenetic
Deb Schwartz: Lucky. Look at everyone around you. We are lucky to be in this industry.
That’s a wrap so thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you soon for a next one. In the meantime, to see previous posts for Community Table, click here.
Imagery for this post courtesy of Simon Puschmann.