In early February, I was introduced to Ann Hermes, with whom I embarked on a three-month Marketing Mentor journey. I knew that Ann would be an interesting photographer to work with since she was coming to the freelance world with 13 years of experience as a reporter and photographer with the Christian Science Monitor. Our first call was an opportunity to get to know one another. I shared my 23 years of experience in the photography world and she shared her background with me.
Many freelancers who I work with are just starting out, striving to make their mark and discover their niche. In Ann’s case, her extensive experience at the Monitor allowed her to wear many hats before entering the freelance world. When working on a story, she would often photograph, edit, produce multimedia, and write the story. She covered both national and international stories, often engaging in collaborative efforts with reporters and translators to craft compelling stories.
From there, we discussed her current clients as well as her dream clients. Ann has a consistent working relationship with Harvard Business School creating portraiture and lifestyle images. She expressed a desire to secure one more steady client to afford her the time and flexibility required to concentrate on her passion projects. Considering that she had built a strong portfolio of content related to higher education, it made sense to focus on that vertical market. So I built a list of business schools and law schools.
Because of Ann’s background, she is excellent at coming up with story ideas. One particular project she shot for The Monitor and sought to explore further was her Radio Squirrels story. This Maritime Radio Station, based on the California coastline of Point Reyes National Seashore, is the last remaining Morse code transmission station in North America. For the past 20 years, volunteers from the Maritime Radio Historical Society have met every Saturday to send out transmissions. These dedicated volunteers are called the Radio Squirrels. I loved this story as it was unique and touching. It could also be marketed in many ways. As they’re situated within a national park, we contemplated the potential interest of Sierra Magazine. Moreover, considering that the majority of these dedicated volunteers are mostly in their golden years, their story might also be of interest to AARP magazine.
Ann and I worked together to create a project pitch with a selection of 4-5 images, which could be attached to an email. We had worked together on building this list of photo editors. There was interest in the story but no commitments. I believed in this story and knew it needed to be shared. I reached out to my good friend at The Washington Post and he gave me the name of the editor for Ann to send it to. She did so and is now writing the story to go with her images for the Post!
I was so happy for Ann when she told me that The Washington Post was publishing her work. She had worked on this project over the years on her own penny and was finally seeing her work pay off. I love it when I can help a photographer like this. I always say that I can get you to the door (meeting with an editor), but you have to kick the door open (close the deal). And she did just that!
What I respect about Ann’s drive is that she tries to attend as many portfolio reviews as she can, both in person and online. This enables her to show her work to editors and people in the photo community. She is a smart photographer who understands networking and treating her photography as a business. Although our Marketing Mentor journey has ended, we are still in touch. I recently informed her about an upcoming portfolio review in Washington, DC. To my delight, Ann plans to make the journey, giving us a chance to finally meet in person!