Learning to Trust Your Representation
Recently we photographed headshots of a young actor in Los Angeles, whose dad was very concerned about a small serious of photos in his daughter’s proof sheets. Frankly, he didn’t like them and found them unflattering of his child. He called and requested that the photos be removed from the proof sheets before sending them to his daughter’s agent. This doesn’t really happen too often and when it does, we’re a little baffled by it. The whole point of a photoshoot is to take a bunch of photos and then choose the best of the best to help market you in the months that follow. While we strive to shoot as many great photos as possible, it’s the nature of the beast that the vast majority of photos we take will wind up on the editing room floor (or the computer’s recycle bin). Being fixated on a handful of bad photos instead of the handful of great ones, is a classic case of looking at the glass half empty, but the bigger take away is the need to trust the process.
While it seems like a pretty straight forward process, I’d like to take a few moments to explain how it works to the unindoctrinated. After you’ve chosen your photographer, you’ll typically show up to the shoot and collaborate with him. You might want to bring your ideas, or talk to your agent to see what their needs are. We shoot photos based on yours and the agents’ needs and then we post those photos online in galleries, or proof sheets. The agent chooses photos that will best represent you and help get you auditions. Once the photos are chosen, you’ll touch up the photos if necessary and then post them on casting websites for the agents to view when submitting your photos to casting directors. It’s a collaborative process and there are a lot of opinions. You’re the boss and you’ve hired a team of professionals that you trust—your agents, manager, photographer, makeup artist, retoucher, and sometimes publicist. And as the boss, it’s important to not micro manage and instead, trust the process and those you’ve hired to represent you.
The happy ending of the story above, is that the agent did her job. She looked through the girl’s photos and found some really compelling images to help sell her client to casting directors. As predicted, she didn’t choose the “bad” ones, and didn’t drop her from the agency suddenly because she realized her client wasn’t perfect. Your agent is on your side. Your photographer is on your side. That's what you're paying for.
When we shoot celebrities, many times the artists never even see the proof sheets. Either the ad agency or the artist’s representation will choose the photos. The artist usually has photo approval, but in the end they are approving their team’s or employers’ choices. They trust the people around them with the minutia, so they can concentrate on their craft.
Trusting your representation is essential to moving forward in the industry. We hear constant stories from our managers and agents about clients who have seen roles in the breakdowns that they want to be considered for. They call or email their reps urging them to throw their name into the hat. Usually the agent has already submitted them or they have a valid reason for not submitting them. But the constant checking-in and micro managing result in an erosion of trust. The agents resent the mistrust and relationships begin to sour.
When there’s a dry spell in your auditions and you ask your agents advice, trust them. They have insights and experience that have led them to their opinion. At the end of the day, if you really don’t trust that your agent is working on your behalf, it’s time to move on. If you’re right, you’ll do much better with another agent. If your wrong, you’ll know it soon enough and hopefully you’ll have learned from the process.