Finding a Rep: Rick Souders
Denver-based photographer Rick Souders of Souders Studios celebrated 20 years of business this past fall! Rick, an accomplished food & beverage photographer, has shot for some of the most well-known food brands in the Midwest and beyond.
Souders Studios features several commercial kitchens, a lounge, thousands of props and a full-time staff to manage the whole operation. Day in and day out, hundreds of delicious dishes are prepared and photographed to grace packaging, billboards, menus and cookbooks for clients like Kraft, Red Robin and Coors Light to name a few. Rick shoots more than 200 days each year and new clients approach him monthly, wanting to utilize his talent and experience.
He’s had numerous reps in the past, but for the last several years, Rick’s been managing his whole business. When we first connected, he was ready to take a step back on the management side of things. Rick wanted to dedicate more of his time to being creative, experimenting with food photography and ‘satisying his creative hunger.’
Shot from Rick’s experimental donut project with pink paint.
Rick was looking for an agent who would not only help manage his relationships with clients, but also someone who would be proactive about marketing his Souders Studios brand. Rick’s in a good spot: Denver is a seriously attractive city and one of the fastest growing towns in the United States. People want to live, visit, and work there, plus there are plenty of food brands to keep Souders Studio busy.
Rick wasn’t so particular about the location of the rep or the size of the agency, so it was really about finding someone who would be a good fit. Finding a rep can be a long, drawn-out process and matching a photographer with one is complex. This process involves a number of factors like timing, the status of an agency’s current roster, and even personal preference.
Representing someone like Rick Souders is a daunting task by any measure — he already has a long list of house accounts and repeat clients, not to mention he's in production for many days each month. Certain reps I spoke with were worried they wouldn’t be able to “push the needle” or bring on new clients for Rick, so I quickly realized approaching a more established rep would be the right choice.
I started out by researching reps in the biggest markets - New York, Los Angeles and Chicago (for all of the food clients there) I had conversations with reps at Ray Brown, Heather Elder and Jodie Zeitler. All were very complimentary of Rick’s work and were wowed by his client list, but said they were not adding to their roster at the moment.
Working with a third party to find a rep can help in a couple of ways: first, a rep is more likely to speak candidly about the photographer's work with an industry peer rather than the photographer themselves. Often, if a rep doesn't think the photographer is a good match, they won't even take the time to respond to them.
For example, John Sharpe of Sharpe Associates had this to say in regards to Souders Studios.
Thanks, but I don’t think Rick and I are a good fit, plus I already rep a food shooter.
Then Kim, owner of Kim Knight Represents, whom I saw click on my email to Rick multiple times (I use email tracking software) responded after three months of visiting Rick’s work.
Thanks for following up with me. Right now is not the best timing for me as I just signed 3 people within the last 6 months and am still in the process of getting them going, traveling the country on their behalf etc. Plus, I currently do have a food and beverage photographer on my roster. Maybe down the line at some point timing will be better.
Best of luck to you and Rick!
And Ralph Mennemeyer of M Represents…
Erika - thanks so much for reaching out. Rick has beautiful work and while I may regret saying this - I'm just too full up at the moment to take on anyone else. If we begin to look I'll be sure to get back to you but sadly for the moment it just wouldn't be fair to Rick.
Thanks again - timing is everything so please keep us in mind too.
As my email analytics can attest, timing is indeed everything. Rick followed up my outreach efforts with his drink coasters promo (designed by WM!) and a personal note early in the new year. The responses started rolling in…
Charlie Holtz at Ray Brown Represents said:
I think Rick is amazing! I got a beautiful promo from him in January, I think. It was so nice, I reached out to personally thank him. His site is bookmarked, but I’m still not looking to pick up any new talent.
Stay in touch!
Many of these reps have continued to open and click on subsequent emails sharing Rick’s work since I initially reached out. So while this first campaign wasn’t successful in getting Rick a contract, we’ve definitely established interest from notable agencies and I will stay in touch with them on Rick’s behalf. In the meantime, Souders Studios shot for four new clients in the last month alone!
Check out more of Rick's great work at soudersstudios.com
And if you'd like to explore an agent relationship yourself, get in touch with me. I'm happy to get the conversation started!