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LOOK LIKE A PROYou can get your foot in a photobuyer's door if you "look like a pro.”
In today's world, photobuyers at book and magazine publishers rarely have face-to-face meetings with their suppliers. There's no need to. If you supply on-target photos -- they'll supply checks.
So the "foot in the door" strategy translates to the techniques you use to attract the attention of the photobuyer. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance at a first impression.
If you have a Web page, and can send scanned images, the techniques for producing a pro presentation have a separate chapter of their own. Here, we’ll talk about when you deal by mail.
We’re in a transition period between paper delivery and dealing through electronics, and many markets still accept mail submissions. If you want first class attention from a photobuyer, you'll want to give the photobuyer first class treatment by sending him/her a first class package.
In my thirty years of dealing by mail with buyers, it's extremely rare that anything gets lost by the U.S. Postal Service. Other means of delivery -- Fedex, UPS, etc. -- have good records, too, and are certainly convenient, but they may not be in your budget. U.S. mail does just fine, with some assistance from you.
First of all, don't package your material in brown envelopes (manila, craft, etc.). The color brown connotes third class. You want the photobuyer to think of you and your work as first class. Use a white heavy-cardboard mailing envelope. To add additional support, place a piece of corrugated cardboard inside.
If you're sending slides (35mm is the standard) use the thick plastic clear-view sheets that snugly hold your slides, not the thin plastic sheets with loose pockets that your slides can drop out of. Caption and number your slides neatly and include your name and phone number. A computerized label program helps to give a professional look to your transparency mounts.
If you are sending B&W prints, they should be 8" x 10", which is the standard in the industry. It doesn't matter if they are glossy or matte. Insert each print in a single 8 1\2 x 11" 3-mil plastic sleeve, available from most plastic bag distributors.
Photobuyers tend to "judge the book by its cover." Their reasoning is that if a photographer submits his/her work in a professional-looking package, (s)he's probably a hassle-free supplier. Editors don't have time to train anyone or hold their hand through a transaction. If your package signals that you are a hassle-free experienced photographer, you will move to the head of the line.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION COUNTS
If this is your first contact with the photo-buyer -- your letterhead will have as much impact as the quality of your images.
Consult with a graphics person to design your logo and letterhead. If the cost is too high, use your talents to barter. The graphic artist may appreciate a photo, or a family portrait, in exchange.
Always include your address, phone and fax number, e-mail address, and web address on your stationery. If you have access to a laser printer and some graphic clip art, tailor each cover letter to the editor you are contacting. For example, if you're contacting a magazine dealing with horticulture, incorporate a flower design in your logo. A jet airplane would be used for an aviation magazine, and so forth.
Your envelopes, labels, business card and other business forms, should also signal ‘quality’ and ‘professional.’ as well. By looking like a pro with all of your materials, you'll experience quicker response from photobuyers. –RE
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 1 715 248 7394. Web site: www.photosource.com