Marketing Your Commercial Photography: Titles to Target

I get this question from my consulting clients quite often: 

Who are the best people to send my photography promos to at an advertising agency or brand? What job titles should I be looking for?

Here’s who you should be sending photography marketing pieces to at advertising agencies and larger brands in order of priority:

Art Buyer/Art Producer/Photography Producer - this is the first title you want to look for when trying to reach an advertising agency or large company for photography assignments. These title-holders are generally the persons in charge of hiring photographers, illustrators, directors and even sometimes animators and actors. Art Buyers/Art Producers are the gate-keepers of source books and photography directories. They usually manage lists of artists and vendors to share with their teams, they tend to hold on to (great) promos, save your work in their bookmarks, folders, Insta-faves, and Pinterest boards. 

Art Buyers/Art Producers also license stock photography, illustration, music, motion, facilitate contracts and payments, organize portfolio showings within their company and maintain relationships with artists and reps. Always be on top of mind/keep in touch regularly with Art Buyers and Art Producers. 

Creative Director - Usually the Creative Director of a brand or project will be the one who makes the final decision on which artist gets hired for a campaign. 

At advertising agencies, often there will be a “triple bid” for photography projects. The Art Buyer and Creative Director will work together to select three potential photographers for a project, have all of the artists submit a bid and sometimes a creative pitch or brief. They will then present the bids to their client. The Creative Director tends to hold the most weight when making a final decision or influencing the client’s decision on which photographer is awarded the project.

When working one’s way up the ladder at an ad agency,  creatives will start in roles with the titles, Copywriter, Art Director, Designer, Jr. Art Director, etc., and climb their way up to Creative Director. When you are searching for Creative Directors at companies, you might want to take a look at their LinkedIn pages to see if they were previously Art Directors vs. Copywriters. Copy-based Creative Directors may have less influence or involvement in hiring photographers, but you never know.

Art Directors - these creatives often have some influence in pitching or approving photographers and other artists within agencies and brands. How much influence depends on the size of the company and the project. It can’t hurt to send your promos to Art Directors and start developing those relationships. You might get lucky, and they may one day be in a Creative Director role with more influence.

If you are unable to find contacts with these titles or are searching smaller brands, you might look for people with titles or bios including the terms: public relations, marketing, digital asset management and/or production. Instagram bios and posts or LinkedIn job descriptions are great ways to discover more about people and their roles in hiring and working with photographers.

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