Fashion and portrait photographer Danny Cary is relatively new to professional photography. After studying English and film at Michigan State University, he became a talent manager in Southern California representing actors and models. He never lost a love of photography that started in childhood, so he quit his job and moved to Chicago two years ago to shoot full time and build his portfolio. Cary recently moved back to Los Angeles and is in the process of looking for a photography rep.
Why did you move to Los Angeles?
The reason I came out here is because the fashion industry is a lot better than in the Midwest. Also, I want to do more celebrity portraiture, so I’m going to tap into a lot of my old networks and start shooting some more high-profile people to get my name out there more.
Why do you want to find an agent?
I want to focus on the creative side. If I had somebody repping me, they could handle the business side. Not only in procuring work but also negotiating the deals and making sure I’m getting paid as best as I can for my shoots.
What kind of work have you been doing to build your portfolio?
Some of it’s personal projects but I’ve also been shooting with fashion designers. They’ll pay me, but then we’ll work together finding our models and hair and makeup people. I’m also helping models build their portfolios. I’ll work with the modeling agencies and they’ll send me clients that want to do temp shoots so they can practice being a model.
I’m always story-boarding and figuring out new personal projects. In those cases, I’ll research models that I think would work, and I’ll reach out to their agent and see if they’d be interested in a collaborative personal project. Obviously, those aren’t going to be paid, which is fine if it’s working toward getting an agent rep or expanding my portfolio. It’s a great way to expand my portfolio in a way that I can one hundred percent control. It’s also great to have more content for social media because that’s such a big way to promote your business nowadays. That’s another way artist reps can find you.
What else are you doing to prepare for looking for an agent?
I’m trimming the fat off my portfolio and trying to make the images I have stand out and make it look well-rounded with a mix of location and studio shoots. I’m also doing a lot of research about the different artist reps out here to see which ones my portfolio fits with best. Some of that is word of mouth, just talking to other photographers and artists out here, and I’m doing a lot of research on my own online through sites like aphotoeditor.com and PDN.
What about your website or portfolio? Are you making any changes in how you present your work?
It is smart to continuously update your portfolio so potential reps know you’re doing new work. I’m always updating and rearranging my photos on my website. Every month or so, I’ll delete certain photos, add new photos, rearrange the setup. I’ll use various templates to see what I like best. I’ll add new publications or interviews and links in my “about” page. I think having a template that allows them to view your portfolio quickly and efficiently is the best way to showcase it.
How do you plan to approach agencies and get noticed by them?
Emails mostly. Nobody really wants phone calls anymore. They prefer cold emails. As an agent, repping actors, we didn’t have time to be taking phone calls from actors all day and I’m assuming photo reps are no different.
You can send an email, and you have a link to your portfolio they can click on right away, or you have some images in the body of the email.
As a former talent agent, do you have any other tips from being in the position of looking for talent?
We didn’t like to be annoyed by people. It’s one thing to send an email once a month, but if we’re getting an email every day or every two days from the same person and we haven’t responded, we probably don’t have time or we don’t think you’re a good fit. I think some photographers give the advice to be super relentless and keep sending emails and phone calls, which shows that you care about your career, but after a while, it can get really obnoxious.
Another piece of advice is to find a way to stand out a little bit from the rest. Finding creative ways to send an email, or send a mailer in a way that it’s not going to be thrown in another pile of all these other artists looking. I think patience is key, too, and doing your due diligence and researching places that are a good fit for you.
All photos © Danny Cary
For more tips to lock down a rep and seal the deal, check out Tips to Getting a Photo Rep.