What’s the Score? Marketing-93 Talent-7

It is becoming more evident to me, the longer I am in this business, that it has become more of a marketing game than that of talent  for those wishing to succeed in any “Artistic” venture.

I am reminded, that in the last decade and even more so prior to it, if you wanted to get an assignment for a magazine or an Ad Campaign, you had to always pass through the Art Director or Creative Director. Once doing so and if the response was positive, you would be introduced to the Fashion Editor on that particular assignment or the traffic coordinator at the ad agency. You basically were hired because you either had talent, or your work had been seen in a competing magazine or on some billboard and you thoroughly impressed the Art Director or who ever turned you on to them to call you in. So either way, someone recognized your talent. In that environment the score would be closer to Talent-93 Marketing-7.  Not taking into consideration a great agent.

Today, in most cases, the Art Director has been assigned a more pragmatic and cursory role as a layout artist for the major magazines out there. More often than not the decision for hiring the photographer is in the hands of the Fashion Stylist and Editor. That condition has changed “the scene” dynamic dramatically and as a result the criteria for choosing talent has changed. It is not only talent that matters, but the celebrity or top model that was used in the image, as well as the recognized Fashion Designer that is featured as well. If you do not have any of these key ingredients, in most cases, it doesn’t matter how incredible your image is, it may be passed over due to that glaring over sight.

No Talent Needed

As a result of this new dynamic, what is more important than ever is NOT talent, (which I believe has taken a back seat role in this scenario) and given rise to the importance of Marketing. Now that in it’s own right is another form of creative talent that must be taken in to consideration as well especially when embarking in this or any of the other Media oriented forms of expression. I am not saying that talent does not count. What I am saying is that talent has been re-calibrated so to speak to reflect the social landscape of our culture. Thus, talent is not only equated by the perceived beauty of the imagery, music or art form, but by the way it has been marketed. The marketing has become an integral part of the art form, thus the art form.

So the next time you observe an image in VOGUE, Harper’s BAZAAR, ELLE, Marie Claire, Numero Magazine, or what ever and say to yourself, “I could have done that…” Just be reminded, that you probably could have. So what’s the problem then? I suggest you go ahead. But just remember, that having Talent is only around 10% of the formula. The rest is a highly guarded secret.

So what’s the score? I’ll give you a play by play update as it comes in. But the gap is widening and as of now, it is Marketing-93 Talent-7…What a Game!

Part 19

About Benjamin Kanarek

Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Seems logical.

  • Seems logical.

  • Wolf

    I beg to differ.

  • Ty

    Awesome post!

  • Allie Brown

    just finished watching PressPausePlay tonight

    –definitely something that would interest you

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  • Superb!!! As always. Thank you Benjamin.

    You’re just F***IN AWESOME!!!

    Lots of love & mad respect from India.

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  • doctorontop

    I ran my own company for many years. One of the biggest failings of many talented and creative people is the false expectation, is that just because you are great at what you do, that will automatically translate into customers beating down your door to offer you work.

    All businesses are the same they either provide a product or a service to trade with others. Although over a period of time a good reputation can spread far and wide, and happy customers can return as repeat customers., it cannot be relied on as the only way to attract work.The reality is marketing has to be a continual ongoing process and vital component within of your business.

    In the past is was enough to declare oneself as an artist with no interest in the mechanic’s of business. Those days are long gone. A client will often be happier with work produced to their exact brief, rather than a inspirational version adding the element of missing creativity.

    An all to easy mistake to make is when you run your own business is that you are the boss, when actually your client is the boss. A quality service is often just as important as a quality product.

    Now to make life easier you can hire a Agent or a Business Administrator (Accountant) to take some of the load off. You and your work is the commodity that is being sold as a package and the photographer will still need to play a big part in the marketing process, even if it’s following advice and strategy worked out between yourself and your agent.

    The cult of celebrity has become a necessary by product and a wise investment may often be hiring a good PR agency who can raise your profile. Which all goes into the melting pot along with Networking and bidding for work than initself may not be directly financially rewarding but it will help raise your profile, in other words a loss leader.

    As Ben mentioned in one of his earlier posts interpersonal skill’s are vital. Treat others with respect, as you never know a Stylist that you work with today, whilst you are on the way up, may become a Fashion Editor you have to impress tomorrow, as you are on the rocky path back down.

    A good agent will expect you to bring something to the table before they will agree to represent you. These days it will not only be your talent but an existing profile and a client base who they believe can help you to expand upon.

    Finally the knock on effect being that new talent has to put more in to get that first step up on the ladder. Sadly many are lost fall by the wayside, purely through lack of business and marketing skills.

    I am sure Ben knows all of this already. I suspect he is very good at Marketing & Business Development, along with the ability to produce, a high quality product, over and over again.

    It doesn’t ever get much better than the Mathilde by Benjamin Kanarek for Harper’s Bazaar China shoot. 🙂

  • This is very true, perfect example, I photographed a girl who is hustling left and right and like wild fire on the internet, huge following. She is not an agency model, simply put a hardworking freelance model. Although the shoot was ok, nowhere near my best, her following linked to me which gained me 100 new followers and an image that was reblogged or lliked more than 400 times. It’s all about strategy and how you play the game. Although I’m not famed by this one shoot, I certainly got a dose of reality and will continue to play ball.

  • Great post as usual.

    It used to be what you know.
    Then it became who you know.
    Now it is who knows you.

  • Nice post. I’n not completely sure though if it’s really Marketing or rather Networking. You have to network to get the top model or top designer, right? How would you do that with marketing alone?

    • I consider networking under the marketing umbrella.

      • Ok, fair enough – I would have seen it more as business development.

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