My name is Alyson Smith and I am a Cape Town based editorial and travel photographer. I have been freelance since 2013 when I started gaining more commissions and I could start transitioning from my previous occupational psychology profession.
My introduction to Agency Access was through Amanda Sosa Stone, who eventually joined the company. I made initial contact with Amanda after reading her marketing and branding for photographers book, searching online and researching the services that she offered in relation to working with photographers independently. Most of my engagements with Amanda had been via Skype given that I spend most of my time in Cape Town. We started working together during 2014, meeting via Skype being that I was in Paris at the time and Amanda in the U.S. I was looking at how to take my work to the next level and really ‘get out there’ as I started to take myself more seriously as a photographer. While I had some online presence, I was also looking for a more robust marketing plan and approach.
Amanda and I spent some time going through my work, a selection of images that I had sent through, my website and online presence and spoke around gaps in the edit. We also spent quite a bit of time talking about where to focus myself genre wise. We discussed ways I could leverage current work to gain more clients, while identifying areas that I clearly needed to shoot more. At the end of the first hour’s session, I had clear goals and actions to work on. This was more of a coaching session than just a review.
After a week I had shot enough new material for our next discussion. I always like working to tight deadlines as I think it provides momentum to excel. It was during this second meeting that we discussed a marketing plan, platforms and image selection for an updated website. In this session, Amanda also introduced me to Agency Access and other platforms to showcase my work and potentially get more clients.
As a result of my sessions with Amanda, I signed up with one of the Campaign Manager programs. The program gave me access to a specific contact database and a number of email credits that allowed me to tailor my distribution list and targeted e-promo’s specific to my work. I worked with Amanda to select pairs of images that would work equally well for postcard mailers as well as e-promo’s. This was a huge learning experience for me as one of my ongoing challenges, even still today, is the selection and narrowing down the edit of my images. Amanda has quick insight into what images work well together, how they could be grouped and what are strong images. I knew that I still needed work in this area, so my relationship with Amanda continued over the last couple of years until fairly recently. Part of this was to focus building confidence in my own judgment when editing and marketing.
The entire journey of working with Amanda, continuing to keep my website fresh, and implementing a solid marketing plan through using Agency Access, assisted me in being commissioned for work with international magazines for example Travesias (Mexico) and National Geographic Traveller UK. I believe that as photographers we need to use tools, such as those provided by Agency Access, that make it possible for us to spend more time in the creative process and producing work for clients.
Alyson loves looking for the unusual, for patterns, for light. She is inspired around how we connect as humans both to each other and the world around us. Originally from the UK, and having lived in numerous countries, has left her with itchy feet, a deep desire to be on the road and constantly dreaming of where to live next. Currently, Alyson can be found across locations - with her two dogs in Cape Town, riding around NYC on her bright yellow 1971 vintage bicycle called 'ray' [of sunshine] or exploring the ever advancing bright lights of Dubai.
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