OK, so you’ve got a beautifully printed portfolio full of your very best quality work, now you actually need to go out and get work with it. Firstly you’ll need to make an appointment with someone who commissions photographers, and these people fall very simply into 2 categories: warm and cold. These terms are fairly familiar, but in brief, a warm contact is someone who you already have some established relationship with. It could be someone who you met off the back of a job you were shooting, or someone recommended by an existing client. A cold contact is someone with whom you’ve no prior relationship with – the same as calling someone straight out of the phonebook.
A warm contact is always better than a cold contact. If you’ve met someone socially, or off the back of another job, and they’ve expressed an interest in seeing your work, then strike while the iron is hot. I’ve made reference to how many opportunities I wasted as an assistant by not having a portfolio and following up on chances when they were offered, and it should be obvious that making an appointment soon after meeting someone is going to keep you in their mind better than calling months after the event.
If you’re approaching a client cold, call first to find out whom you should be seeing. Some magazines, for example have both an art desk and a pictures desk, whilst some even leave the commissioning up to the editorial (writing) staff. A quick call to the editorial assistant of a magazine is usually enough to find out who to make an appointment with. You can find all this information in the masthead, usually a few pages in from the front, and I’d strongly advise buying the current issue of the magazine you’re targeting before you call, as personnel can change surprisingly rapidly.
Tepid. (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Once you’ve made the appointment here’s a few basics:
1. Know where you’re going, precisely who you’re going to see and get there early. I don’t need to give reasons for this, it’s blatantly obvious.
2. Personal appearance – don’t overdo it, but likewise don’t turn up looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. In the editorial world at least, people tend to dress pretty casually – if you turn up in a suit you’ll look a bit of a tosser to be honest. This rule may not apply if you’re going to meet the CEO of some large banking firm mind you. Use your common sense.