Recent Posts

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Through the Photographers Lens

Welcome to Through the Photographers Lens,

In this week’s post I thought I would talk about “Choosing the Right Management”. As an artist it is important to have the right management in your corner. Not “Yes Men on Payroll”. In this article I will outline some of the qualities and qualifications that are common in all artist managers that you as the artist should be looking for and aware of. I believe in order to truly understand something you must first get to know it and all its parts. So, with that in mind let us look at the word manager and its definition:

Definitions of manager (n)

man·ag·er [ mánnijər ]

1. organizer of business: somebody who is responsible for directing and controlling the work and staff of a business, or of a department within it

2. organizer of somebody's business affairs: somebody who organizes and controls the business affairs of somebody such as a professional entertainer

3. organizer of affairs of athlete: somebody who organizes and controls the training of an athlete or a sports team

As a photo- journalist, fashion photographer and writer, even my business affairs require the services of a good manager. I have been through several managers in my career for an array or reasons. Cheating with the books, suspect business practices and my personal biggest pet peeve, lack of vision are all grounds for termination. It needs to be understood that your manager is YOUR employee and not the other way around. At the same time it is also important to understand that your manager is not your personal assistant. Just as your job as an artist is to create art, your manager’s job is to manage and leverage the resources on the path to your success.

Vision: In dealing with a manager, the vision for your career has to be made perfectly clear. I have very specific goals when it comes to my career and the direction I want it to go in and it is a path that I have thought long and hard about. It is important to be able to communicate your goals to your manager and in turn they must be able to understand why these are important to you. This makes for a very important first conversation with a potential manager. If they do not share your vision then how can they properly manage you? In a previous article I wrote about the “Business of Art” and the ability to separate business from art. This principal is very important because as an artist if you can’t focus on your craft because you have to worry about which clients have paid you and which have not then your art will reflect your lack of focus pushing your goals further out of reach. A good manager should first be familiar with your form of art and have the access and resources in that genre to make the path to your end goal that much more travelable.

Trust: This is a really simple but hard to find requirement for a good manager. You have to be able to trust them with your life’s work. Your craft, money and reputation are in the hands of someone that you have to trust will represent you properly to the world you are trying to make an impression in. They should be professional at all times and look the part. They should be completely transparent in all their business dealings where your project is concerned. Receipts and conference calls, blind CC’s on every email and follow up notes are important because at the end of the day this is your business you are asking them to run for you and you must be able to ask for proof of results and get them. Remember this person will also be responsible for moneys coming in and going out of your accounts and you have to be clear on where YOUR money is at all times.

Resources: Resources are important! Once you have had the goals and dreams conversation the first thing your manager needs to do in proving themselves worthy of your business is the ability to take your dreams and create a path of achievement and put together the resources to get you there. Whether it is training, materials, rehearsals, documents, people and opportunities, a good manager will be able to make these resources available to you to help you achieve your goals. As an artist you need to make the resources you already have available to you, readily available to your manager ONCE YOU TRUST THEM. There’s nothing worse than giving someone a business contact of yours to find out that this person has been soliciting business or making side deals on your name. Remember, everyone you bring to the table is a direct reflection of you and your business.

Ethics: Your reputation is second only to the quality of your art! If you expect to go far in any business you have to run a clean, ethically tight ship. Your management staff, in most cases, is the first to be seen by those you will be doing business with, therefore it is important that they not only look the part but carry themselves as knowledgeable professionals on your behalf. Your management team is for all intents and purposes an extension of you the artist. Make sure that they are trust worthy, and share your same sense of moral value and are able to clearly communicate that on your behalf. Clean, clear dealings are the only way to build longevity.

Fearlessness: I recently did a photo shoot for a new artist and their manager was present for the shoot. As always, I sat and interviewed the artist to find out what the concept of the shoot was and what story they wanted me to tell the world in their photos. The manager became incensed to the point of yelling, which was funny enough to me. It seemed the manager had an idea of what they wanted the photo shoot to look like,but was not shared by the artist. In hearing the artist revealing their thoughts to a total stranger and getting all sorts of positive feedback I guess the manager became embarrassed that they had not had this conversation with their artist and their visions were not the same. The artist wanted to be seen in a certain type of light and the manager wanted to go with, well, let’s just call it the “Lil Wayne” package. The artist in no uncertain terms told the manager that he was not “Lil Wayne” and didn’t want the world to equate them to him or any other artist. Clearly someone who had read my “Cookie Cutter Rapper” article of a few months ago.

The lesson here is your management cannot be afraid to promote you as who you are or let you be the artist you want to be. If they fear not being able to market you to the world for who you are, then you need to re-read this article and see which of these criteria your manager is lacking and changes need to be made.

At the end of the day, you have to be mindful of who you let into your camp because you will be judged by the least of them. If you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression then make sure that the first impression your management makes it a positive and long lasting one.

It’s your career, Make the most of it!

What are your thoughts?

Rahim Baskett
MindSoulVision Photography


Post a Comment