I asked a few reps their thoughts about what the most important things are as a rep in the partnership with their artists. As well as their advice and suggestions for an artist looking/shopping for representation. The following statements are anonymous thoughts from these agents (more comments tomorrow as well).
On important aspects of the partnership:
"Trust and communication. Trust comes with time, but once it's achieved the relationship starts to run a lot more smoothly and productively. Communication is also crucial. I try and talk to my artists every single day, if not by phone then by email or IM. I would also say availability, it's important to make time for everyone and spread yourself evenly amongst the roster, it's tricky but that way no one falls through the cracks."
"Understanding what the artist is about. In other words, what is it they love to do and what it is that is unique to the industry. Understanding their vision and how they work. It is a relationship based mainly on trust and communication. There are times you work a great deal there are other times there seems to be no work at all. The artist must understand that I position the right talent for the project. It is not uncommon for me to get a call for a recommendation. My recommendations are based on who the artist is and what they will bring to the table based on the parameters. IN other words I do not put a square peg in a round whole. Our artists understand that. I always need person work from the talent. The artist must understand we fight for them and do everything we can to get the price the market allows for that work. That does not mean what the budget is but what is fair. We fight for what is fair for everyone."
"Know the agent's roster. Often times people call or email me and their work just doesn't fit in with my brand. So do your research. I like a nice, short, personal email with a link to a site and maybe a little background or client info. I personally review everything I get and keep files on artists, especially if they're out of my usual market. I usually only meet with new artists a few times a year so if I get back to you and tell you to keep in touch -- do it. I'll probably set up a meeting at some point, just not maybe right at the moment you contact me. I typically hear from someone once and then never again. Ask your clients who they might suggest rep-wise. I get a lot of photographers that way "so-and-so recommended you", and to be honest, that usually peaks my attention."
"Take pictures you love that show some type of production value. Very important to make sure these images are unique to the industry. Everything has been done. I want to see how you make it different and how it flows through your book. Show me the images that you feel are reflective of who you are and who you want to be seen as. Send me an email every couple of months with a small jpg sample of your work."