Last month, Maine-based editorial, commercial, and stock photographer Heather Perry sent out a unique promo featuring her underwater photography. It included a swim cap, promo cards, a booklet of her photographs, and even a personalized stamp using one of her images. With the promo, Heather not only introduced potential new clients to her ongoing water work (which she has a special passion for), she also announced her upcoming takeover of NatGeo Creative’s Instagram feed. Kelley recently caught up with Heather about the promo and how she came up with such a unique idea. Enjoy!
How did you come up with the concept for this aquatic promo?
We are all always trying to stay fresh and current with both commercial and editorial clients. Timing is always of the utmost importance. My commercial rep at National Geographic, Rachel De Ruyter, and I had a great brainstorming session about a promo package that we could send to commercial agencies for whom might be a good fit. We knew we wanted to include a component that would give recipients something they could use. I decided on a swimming cap because it would be usable and represent my work well. From there I worked with a local designer in Portland, Maine, on my new logo, the accordion piece and the letter-pressed envelopes. And I was so excited to find a place where I could order custom postage! I really felt like that finished the overall look of the piece. It has definitely been an investment of energy and money, but I know it’s part of my job to make an impression.
Your work covers a broad range of specialties — why did you decide to focus on the swim photos?
Swimming and immersion in the ocean has always been my first love, and remains my favorite specialty in photography. Of all the types of work that I do, the water is where I feel most at home. I’m very interested in going after commercial gigs where I can use these skills, and my water work likely sets me apart more than my other specialties. There was also a timing component – I work in the field four times a year with SwimVacation – we take people on week-long open-water swimming vacations in tropical places. I worked with my commercial reps to time a planned trip (December 7-13) with a takeover of the @natgeocreative Instagram feed, all to be about a week after the promo piece would drop on desks. I included in the promo package a small card announcing the upcoming feed takeover, to invite art buyers to watch me create this work in real time. So all of these things were coming together to make a big push toward introducing commercial agencies to my ongoing water work.
I love the way you paired certain images with blurbs of text about your work. Where did you come up with this idea, and did you work with anyone to create the copy?
I worked with a great local designer in Portland, Maine. His name is Justin Varberakis at Big Room Studios. Right from the beginning he understood my work and the look I was going for. He designed my new logo and the accordion piece, placing existing text I’d written for other bio pieces. We worked together on image selection, though I really like to let a designer look at my work and go at it. I find it so helpful to have a creative’s eyes review my work and make a statement about what feels strongest to them. I pretty much let him place each section of text where he felt it worked, and in the end I was in total agreement. There’s a section in that copy that talks about how I love to collaborate. This piece is a real representation of that – I make the pictures and let the designer do his thing to show them off. As long as we understand each other, I have faith we can’t go wrong.
The swim cap is something I’ve never seen before — how did you conceptualize that?
Im a swimmer, so a swim cap is something I use all the time, whether I’m in a pool or in open water. The promo piece was being directed at agents and designers for water sports and apparel companies. Many of these folks have some connection to water, often swimming. My work focuses primarily on swimmers, so the “useful/gift” component of the piece being a cap seemed to make sense. It’s also something that could be printed with my logo easily, and it can also be folded and remain relatively flat – easy to include in an envelope.
How many promos were sent out, and what types of creatives did you send them to?
I sent out about 90. My agents put together a comprehensive contact list for me, including a handful of content relevant magazine editors, and about 80 art producers and creative directors at agencies across the country. These agencies represent companies that have some kind of connection to people in water. It’s important to be in the front of an art buyer or editor’s mind when they have a need for special content.
Any measures of success yet? Has anyone reached out, or have you heard anything from people who received these?
I haven’t heard anything from anyone yet, though I’m hopeful. I’m also hopeful some of the creatives who received the package managed to tune in to my takeover of the @natgeocreative feed. I like the idea that this real time creative component will help boost the overall impact of the piece. And I’m already working on the next one!