We’ve had the pleasure of working with Tokyo-based photographer Irwin Wong for nearly ten years, including print promos, branding, and web edits, among other projects. His photography is focused primarily on automotive, industrial, and artisanal subjects, and he has even published two photo books in the last two years, Handmade in Japan and The Obsessed. This busy photographer needed some help connecting with new clients and our marketing specialist Larry Westler was happy to oblige!
Typically, our Client Meetings package would be for a photographer who is new to a particular location, or traveling and looking to physically connect with clients. For Irwin, researching potential clients and putting together the proper marketing materials — which includes constructing an eye-catching emailer — are somewhat intimidating tasks. He would rather focus his efforts on the creative aspect of his photography, but this way he could receive 50 verified contacts and have someone send out a message on his behalf. Also, he was looking to do more targeted marketing, focusing on clients outside of Japan who would want to shoot there.
As usual, this project began with a video call to discuss what the overall goals were, what clients and types of projects he’s interested in, and what geographic area he wants to focus his attention (regional, national, international). I then take all of that information and think about Irwin’s portfolio as a whole, including his specialties, style, and strengths.
Before my call with Irwin, I took the time to read through Irwin’s responses to our questionnaire, then looked at his site and social media. I wanted to get a better sense of how he saw himself, the clients he was already working with, and where he wanted to go in his career. I was very impressed with his work overall, but I was concerned that his website didn’t show off his expertise as well as it could, so we first spent some time refining his presentation.
In my 15 years in the photography industry, I’ve worked in the capacity of art direction, image curation, artist relations, and marketing to active and potential clients, which I believe has helped me identify which clients are right for a photographer as well as craft a message that will resonate with that client. Irwin wanted to target well-known brands and creative agencies, and simply go after bigger jobs (but within the specialties that he’s already experienced in: automobile, industrial, and artisanal craftsmen).
The initial list we created was more focused on California, the UK, and Australia. It was split between ad agencies that worked with car companies and industrial clients, and luxury goods manufacturers that would be interested in a photographer who could showcase their product from start to finish, focusing on all the hands involved.
I started building our list of agencies first, then the brands. The process of exploring those prospective clients helped inform the emails I wrote, which there were two of, since I split the list between ad agencies working with car/industrial clients, and manufacturing/retail companies of luxury knives. Irwin had some suggestions for which clients he’s worked with that he wanted to promote, but other than that he was very happy with how I described him and the language I used in the email.
Our email campaign was pretty successful. We had a 60% open rate, six clicks, and two replies. Big Day the Agency replied and said Irwin had some great work and they’d keep him in mind for the right project. Wusthof also replied and said Irwin’s work was beautiful and while they didn’t have anything right now, they would keep his information and let him know if there’s anything in the future. Irwin was very happy with the results, he added a bunch of great contacts to his marketing list and he plans to work them into his regular marketing efforts.
In addition to linking to the photographer’s website, we usually recommend that marketing emails include a small attachment to catch a client’s eye. We looped in designer Lindsay Thompson, who created two incredible designs, one focused on automotive imagery and the other on artisanal craftsmen.
Overall, I found the idea of targeting clients who want to shoot in Japan to be more difficult, in terms of finding and narrowing the list down to the best 50 contacts, but it was an interesting challenge that required me to think outside the box.