My name is Kevin D. Liles, and I am a documentary, portrait, and commercial photographer based in Atlanta. I have clients ranging from the Atlanta Falcons to The New York Times. Before going freelance full-time in 2011, I worked as a small town newspaper photojournalist and later as an assistant. I heard about Agency Access through some friends and online acquaintances a couple years ago. I was interested, but I wasn’t quite ready to make the investment so early in my freelance career. Looking back, I wish I had.
My introduction to Agency Access was through one of their consultants, Jennifer Kilberg. It was great because Jennifer lives here in Atlanta and I was able to meet face-to-face with her for our initial meeting. I bought a two-hour consultation through Agency Access; I was reluctant to purchase one of the long-term plans they offered. A lot of my work is editorial, and I wasn’t quite sure that Agency Access would be the right fit for a photographer like me.
The consultation was broken up into two sessions — the first in person and the second via Skype. In our initial meeting, Jennifer looked through my work (she had already familiarized herself with my style prior to the meeting) and discussed ways I could leverage this work to gain more clients, both editorial and commercial. She had me put together a few things for our next meeting, which took place a couple weeks later. It was during this meeting that we discussed a marketing plan, how to use social media (especially Instagram) to showcase my work and potentially get more clients.
Following the meeting, I signed up for the Campaign Manager Plus program, which is 15 months long and includes all sorts of bells and whistles. The program includes having email and print promos go out every two months. This is key for me, because given my hectic schedule and being a one-man band, it would be easy to miss these kinds of deadlines on my own.
The first thing we did was work on an edit of photos for the campaign. I sent Jennifer 300-500 of my favorite images over the past couple years. When she first asked for this, I thought it would be extremely hard to come up with that many images. But after going through recent work, it was clear that I had more than enough to show her.
Her edit in this was so important. She was able to see patterns and similarities and groupings of photos that I never would have. She paired photos together that really showcase the kind of work I am good at and the kind of work I would like to get from clients.
From there, I worked with a designer, Alison Abate, to get my promos exactly the way I wanted them. I have many revisions made, to the point where I thought I might be pushing my luck. But it was no problem, Alison told me she wanted it to be right. From there it was simply a matter of sending out the promos, which Agency Access does, of course. I just sent out my first batch a couple of weeks ago.
Working with Jennifer in our initial two-hour consultation, she talked about how being smart about the work I put on Instagram can have a huge impact. She mentioned that being part of communities on there was important, and using specific hashtags and tagging brands and other influencers was key. Shortly after I started my campaign with Agency Access, I landed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons to shoot for their social media accounts, namely Instagram. Because the Falcons where tagging me in their posts, my account started growing pretty steadily (few hundred a week). I was also posting their photos and tagging players and using hashtags. A couple of weeks into this, Instagram listed me a “suggested user” and my account exploded from 1,100 to 82,000 in two weeks.
Because of Agency Access, I have a much, much better understanding of marketing and using social media as a platform to showcase my work and build a following. It is this kind of knowledge that will enable me to (hopefully) continue growing my client list and getting more work.
Kevin D. Liles is a documentary, portrait, and commercial photographer based in Atlanta. He is a contract photographer for the Atlanta Falcons as well as a regular contributor to The New York Times. He specializes in creating narrative, layered and powerful images for a wide range of clients.
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