EG: I can think of two really specific successes. Many years ago, I found a cool new agency somewhere on the Internet. They had just started out and were doing some cool small projects. I found their address and sent them a postcard with a funny message. They really liked it and posted it on their blog. I eventually met them in person to say hi. We stayed friendly for years, and last year they asked me to shoot a really great project for a big athletic brand.
Back in 2008, I published a newsprint publication called “Thank God That’s Over.” It was a humorous photo essay taken on a five-day cruise from New Jersey to Bermuda. It was every bit as awful as you can imagine. To this day, people still reference that newsprint thing. I learned that to make good photos is not enough. You have to package them up nicely and deliver it to the world in a format they will enjoy.
JS: This past Fall, I sent an email newsletter to a list made up of mostly photo editors in order to share some recent editorial work. A photo director from a magazine replied and inquired if I was available and interested in working on an assignment later that month.
A couple years ago, I made a booklet to accompany a personal project about a summer basketball league. Unsure of how it happened but the booklet wound up on the desk of an individual who works for a popular sportswear brand. This person ended up hiring me for some of my early commercial work at the brand and later connected me to a creative agency that I still work with today.
CC: I signed with my agent as a result of my “marketing” efforts – they saw my work in a magazine, then they received my email newsletter, after they received my printed promo they invited me in for a meeting.
A client received the same printed promo and held onto it for nine months before the right job came along – a two day ad job.
I cold emailed a handful of editors at the NY Times introducing myself and my work and within 2 months I was hired by two different editors to contribute portraits.
I will also say that the marketing efforts are compounding like it was with my agent and it’s a matter of timing – when the right project comes along and the client remembers your work or happens to see it (somewhere – newsletter, promo, magazine, email) and they’re looking for someone to hire that has your style. Keep at it!