“Is there anybody… out there?”
The marketing process, for me, often resembled this Pink Floyd song. I had done my own email campaign, followed by a postcard mailing…once…but found it basically impossible to track any sort of qualitative result, and with that, a reason to keep my nose to the grindstone. The difficulty is enhanced by the fact that I was always working. “That’s great! I know a lot of photographers who aren’t very busy!” was something that I heard a lot. The problem was that I wasn’t doing the kind of work I really wanted to be doing. This is where Agency Access and Campaign Manager Pro came around.
A lot of creative people–graphic designers, composers, illustrators, photographers–are stuck in a creative black hole. They come in every day with a good attitude, put in the work, turn out good results, have happy clients, and go home. The good thing is that good work for clients results in more work. The issue is that it results in more work of the same type. This isn’t all bad, as it allows you to refine your process, streamline your workflow, and become an expert. You are making a living in a creative field! *Insert lame emoji*
The problem with this scenario, at least for me, is that I would rather not do the same thing every day. I am a wanderer in photography. I have been blessed to work for WireImage, Getty Images, and also AP Images, for over 10 years. My assignments have varied from celebrity work to fashion to editorial behind the scenes, interesting stuff. Working for these agencies, I was able to hone my skills to where I can shoot and have shot almost everything. Which is the problem.
I approached Agency Access and the Campaign Manager Pro program with the goal of doing the seemingly impossible–rebranding myself, and moving from a wire service photographer to an editorial and commercial portrait photographer. This is very difficult because in photography, like many other fields, people have a very narrow perception of your abilities. If you are good at shooting music, you generally won’t be hired to shoot sports. If you shoot a lot of travel, you will have a difficult time getting hired to shoot portraits. If you shoot cold foods, you aren’t the guy or gal for hot foods. Seriously. Hot foods and cold foods. It’s a thing.
The catch-22 in photography is that it is very difficult to get hired for work which you do not already have in your portfolio. Luckily, this was not the case with me, but perceptions are hard to change. I had plenty of portraits and what could be called editorial or commercial work. As a matter of fact, I had too much. Which brings me to the hardest part of the Campaign Manager program, at least for me–The Edit. I have roughly 2 million images on my RAID, all organized, captioned, and categorized, and I have a great memory…but it is a daunting process to try and pull images that fit your goals, and then select the best ones, and put them in an order that is most effective. My team never gave up and was extremely encouraging, even when I was not the most responsive (I told you it was daunting!)
Eventually we were able to narrow it down to 200+ images, and then make a final edit. Now, I had worked with other “photo consultants” before, and the outcome was less than satisfactory. At one large portfolio review, a photo editor for a prominent magazine asked me, “Did you select the images and the order?” “No,” I said. “Good. Fire whoever did.” It was the last review I ever went to. The process with Agency Access was far different. The initial edit my team picked…just made sense. It conveyed my style and what I am best at in a visually appealing package. I had confidence, and moving forward was much easier when you have a good feeling about the process.
Everything else after that was easy. The design process was great, with a clean crisp layout following our discussions about aesthetics, and everything was timely with great follow-up.
When the emails and postcards started going out, and the results started to come in, I realized what makes Campaign Manager Pro such a powerful tool. You make lists of Dream Clients and get your work in front of them. Tracking the response lets you see where you are having an effect, and then you can target those areas with follow ups. I can see in real time what is working.
The proof is in the pudding, as during the first email and postcard campaign, I was hired for three feature portraits for Worth Magazine, and named feature contributor. It was the kind of work I was aiming for–portraiture, for a great client, with some creative freedom. Now, I never wonder “Is there Anybody Out There?” anymore. Now it’s more like, “Where It’s At!”
Check out some of Brian Ach’s work below:
Brian Ach blurs the lines between editorial and commercial photography by telling moving stories with still pictures. From traveling with the late musician Prince as his tour photographer to portraiture with top celebrities, Brian is equally adept on location, in his New York studio, or behind-the-scenes. His relaxed demeanor, vast skill set and efficient problem-solving ability -- honed through experience in a wide-range of shooting situations -- enables him to capably deal with the diverse challenges inherent in a shoot. This experience pays off whether shooting portraits, travel, automotive, or music. His work has been seen in Rolling Stone, People, Time, Worth, Entertainment Weekly, The NY Times, and major newspapers and magazines around the world. When he isn’t behind the camera, he is usually behind the wheel of his ’73 BMW 2002Tii with his wife beside him and Pancake the Maine Coon, waiting for them at home.
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