This is an excerpt from an interview that will appear in the 2012 Photographer’s Market. Purchase as copy of the 2012 Photographer’s Market (available in late August 2011) or subscribe to ArtistsMarketOnline.com to get the complete interview with Norman Maslov when it becomes available.
Norman Maslov, a native San Franciscan, is an artist’s agent, representing commercial photographers nationally from his hometown by the Bay. His photography agency, Maslov: Agent Internationale opened in 1986. I first met Norman while working with the extremely successful commercial photographer Michele Clement. At that time he was working as her business manager, running the operation from his perch in the studio’s loft. His boom voice at times seemed like the Great Oz coming from the heavens and certainly got our attention. Several years later, when I started my studio, his advice and help was invaluable. He always took the time to review my new work and consulted with the development of my book. Although we never worked together as rep and photographer, he did funnel work my way whenever he could through tips and advice on how I could land assignments. His stable of photographers includes some of the best and most sought after shooters in the country. He has a keen eye for recognizing talent. The success of his company and his photographers is a true testament to this ability.
Talk a bit about the services you offer to your artists.
I work with them in editing and organizing their portfolios and websites. I consult with them about the direction they want to go style-wise and in terms of testing for themselves.
I collaborate with them to create a marketing plan and promotional campaigns. I market them to potential clients in adverting, design and corporations and negotiate assignments and licensing agreements.
Talk a bit about the services you offer to the clients.
I offer them a variety of photographers with artistic and production experience. I suggest specific photographers depending on their needs. I work to try to match them with my artists and attempt to create a budget that fits within theirs.
How do you go about finding photographers to rep?
I keep an eye on work I see in publications like Photo District News (PDN), Communication Arts, Graphis and so on. I also see work from direct mail and email promotions and social sites such as Facebook. Also, clients and buyers occasionally refer new photographers to me. I also do portfolio reviews at some of the art schools and at events sponsored by American Photographic Artists (APA) and American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and other photo organizations.
How do you market your artists?
Calling and visiting clients I have relationships with. Promoting to new clients when I see or hear than they represent certain products. Direct and email promotions. In person Portfolio Donut Road shows. Directory and website advertising. Social network and business sites and so on. You have to be everywhere!
What are your thoughts on the digital age, and how has it affected you, your business and the industry in whole?
It’s been good and bad.
The good: It’s quicker to see if you got the shot immediately. You can shoot many more images and the cost really doesn’t add up as it did when you needed to shoot and process more film. You can send images to clients faster and promote the work quicker. It’s easier and faster to get new work out. It’s easier to promote yourself.
The bad: Everyone has a digital camera, and everyone seems to think they are professional photographers. Many are not learning to use lighting as they feel they can fix it in Photoshop. There are so many more “photographers” now. Clients shoot more for themselves or have “friends” who will shoot cheap for them.
Do you have any parting words of wisdom you would like to share about the future of the profession of photography?
I am just starting my twenty-fifth year as an agent. Twenty-five years in business for myself. It’s been a wonderful journey with a few bumps along the way. A few recent tempestuous years of “end-of-the-world” talk … are coming to an end. I’m actually feeling more optimistic right now. Yes, there have been major changes, and the axis of the planet has tilted in a different direction, but new possibilities are also opening up to those who have the courage and stamina to continue.
I think Arthur Miller said it wonderfully through his character Willie Loman in Death of A Salesman, “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates a personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.”
I would like to thank Norman for his views and insights, as well as his commitment to the advancement of our business over his twenty-five years as a mentor and friend. You would all do well to follow his advice, and be sure to check out the links below. Norman, at times does speaking engagements sponsored by photo associations. If you ever have a chance to see him in person, do it! Not only will you come away with some great advice, you will be treated to a great show filled with his wry sense of humor.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Norman’s contact info:
879 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
View our wonderful artists at: http://www.maslov.com
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