Spamming Photo Editors And Art Directors

Spamming Photo Editors And Art Directors

A rather large brouhaha recently erupted when an ad agency creative director lashed out at photographers for “spam”
and went so far as to assemble a group of peers and issue a public
blacklist, actually naming several photographers they viewed as
offenders. Turns out, more than a few of the so-called evil spammers
were instead well-meaning professionals who carefully researched their
target audience and sent valid, relevant communications. The blacklist
has since been taken down. Yet in the resulting noise, many
photographers were left asking, “Is there a right way to email potential
clients or is everything simply considered spam?”

We did some research to get an answer, and today we’ve published a new free ebook, Email Marketing for Photographers, designed to help photographers get it right. It’s a tidy 15 pages of research on the tools and resources that
photographers need to create the kind of promotional messages that lead
to more business. You’ll find an introduction to email marketing, case studies from
successful photographers, seven great DIY service
providers, the anatomy of a successful email, and more.


Do photographers SPAM potential clients? Yes indeed. The email volume buyers receive is astonishing, especially across markets like commercial, editorial, design and book publishing. Well-meaning email marketing becomes SPAM very easily thanks to poor list management and photographers’ penchant for sending mass blasts instead of targeted, relevant communications. The net result is that email marketing becomes a less effective avenue for all photographers to engage potential buyers. Our intention with this new ebook is to help more photographers plan and execute smart, tailored campaigns that demonstrate a respect for busy clients. When used properly, email does remain a very powerful piece of the photographer’s marketing mix.         

In the recent 2011 Buyer Survey Results we recently released with our partner Agency Access, 500 photo editors and agency creatives told us a ton about how buyers want to be marketed to. We asked an open-ended question “What’s the best way for a photographer to get your attention?” 38% of the respondents told us “email”. Another 22% said that any communication form is fine but that photographers need to do a better job ensuring the communication is relevant to them (ie. don’t send food photography to a sports marketing firm). We also recently received some fantastic guidance on the “right way” to email photo editors from Travel + Leisure Photo Editor Whitney Lawson, as well as Ashley Macknica, a New York Magazine Freelance Photo Editor.

The bottom line? Your prospects will appreciate the email only if you make it clear you’ve done your homework and show a respect for what they need. If you’re spamming, you’re adding to the clutter and pretty much wasting everyone’s time. 

As you dig into Email Marketing for Photographers, here are 5 tips to avoid becoming a spammer:

  • Research your audience and build a list that closely matches your photography with customer needs.
  • Don’t abuse the subject line. Avoid gimmicky subject lines like “URGENT! Open immediately.” That kind of trick only works once, yet we’re told it happens daily. In fact, be specific in the subject line to save your potential clients some time (and if they like your promo, they can categorize it and find it again later).
  • Enable people to opt-out, and when they ask to be removed, remove them! Most email service providers can manage this for you.
  • Don’t overdo it. We asked buyers about their sensitivity around email frequency and many told us one-per-month, or even every-other-month was acceptable.
  • Monday’s are typically a no-no for photo editors. Being sensitive to your audience’s schedule will increase the likelihood your email gets opened and read. 

Remember, nobody likes a spammer. 

Next Post:
Previous Post:
This article was written by

PhotoShelter CEO. Follow on Twitter: @awfingerman and Instagram: @awfinger

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. John H. Maw at 3:58 pm

    I don’t like it when people send unsolicited emails to me (and I use challenge response to stop those messages getting through), so I find it impossible to justify doing the same to my potential clients. I think that it gives a very poor impression of a business and makes you look cheap. I know that this won’t be everyone’s opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *