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Be a Photography Agent: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a photographer agent. Learn about the job duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a photography agent. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Be a Photography Agent?

Photographers must be passionate about picture taking, which means they often need to rely on agents who can devote their time to the business of marketing and licensing photographs. Photography agents, who sell photos, footage, and digital images to end users, are similar to talent agents. They may also have some control over a photographer's creative output and career. Self-employed agents may need to spend a significant amount of time seeking new clients.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Four-year degree may be required
Degree Field Photography or a related discipline
Experience 2-4 years of experience
Key Skills Clerical, organizational, sales, problem-solving, verbal and written communication, and customer service skills; experience with word processing, spreadsheet, and photo editing programs; basic knowledge and passion for photography
Salary $64,200 yearly (median for all agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)

Sources: O*NET OnLine, Job postings by employers (February 2013), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Photography agents may have bachelor's degrees in photography or related disciplines, along with 2-4 years of experience. They are expected to be passionate for photography and demonstrate professional selling ability. They should have excellent verbal and written communication skills, along with abilities in customer service, clerical work, organization, and problem solving. In addition, they should have experience with word processing, spreadsheet and photo editing programs, along with basic knowledge about photography. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for managers of artists, performers and athletes, which include photography agents, was $62,940 in 2015.

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Steps to Become a Photography Agent

What steps do I need to be a photography agent?

Step 1: Learn About Photography and Sales

To become a photographer's agent, candidates typically need basic knowledge of photography concepts and business practices. Useful skills for this career path may include knowledge of photography-related computer programs, sales, business and writing. These skills can be learned through on-the-job training or formal classes in specific topics. Future agents also need experience researching and calling prospects, making presentations and closing deals. Any classes in communications and office management may be advantageous.

Take photography classes or obtain an entry-level photography job to increase your chances for success. Aspiring photography agents can get a head start by learning photography in high school if it's offered. Working as photographer assistants can also provide industry knowledge. Any entry-level photography position with training in the art can also offer valuable experience needed in the industry. Training in sales may also be helpful in future employment prospects.

Step 2: Consider Earning a College Degree

According to O*NET OnLine, some artist agents or business managers need a four-year degree, although many employers don't require one in the photography field. Many colleges offer Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts programs with photography specializations. Typical classes include hands-on practice in photography equipment and technology, along with business classes related to the profession. Some colleges have photography clubs to enhance the skills related to the industry.

It's a good idea to join a professional organization to learn trade fundamentals. The American Society of Media Photographers is one organization that has general information about photo licensing requirements, intellectual property and the copyright laws that apply to photographers. This information is quite useful when representing a photographer.

Step 3: Network in the Photography Community

Photography agents need to be successful ambassadors for their agencies, comfortable with photographers and knowledgeable about media. Working knowledge of the advertising and marketing industries, along with contacts with potential clients, like news editors or ad-agency professionals, are extremely valuable in this business. In order to develop these contacts, photography agents may want to attend social and professional gatherings, such as workshops, seminars and photography shows. They may also do extensive work making phone calls to develop relationships with potential clients in the industry.

Photography agents sell photos, footage, and digital images to end users. They may have college degrees. They are expected to have experience in the industry and passion for photography, along with professional selling talents, and they earn a median annual salary of $62,940.

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