Clients *cough* Bullshit

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Your list of clients.

Yeah, I know it’s padded. Not always, but I can tell when it is.

Sometimes, I call the client to see if they liked working with you and they have no idea who you are because it was a stock photo they bought from Getty… not a global advertising campaign that you shot for them.

The idea behind the list is lost if you use it to tell me about every single person you ever sold an image to. What’s the point of that?

There Are 30 Comments On This Article.

  1. I’m sure that is annoying, but its also annoying to me how little some editors seem to communicate with each other even in the same office. You could easily happen to pick an editor at a magazine (or art buyer at a large agency) to call as a reference who I hadn’t yet worked with and they would probably almost no clue about my work, despite my having shot dozens of times with their colleagues.

    A couple of months ago I had 3 editors from the same magazine call me about different shoots down my way and none of them had any clue they were all reaching out to me simultaneously. Not that I’m complaining on that one…

  2. hey thanks for pointing that out! i get frustrated when i see those lists where everyone has shot for the new york times or something. it is frustrating because it is obvious that they are making shit up, the work usually isn’t as good as the “client list” would make you think it might be, this culture and business is based on that type of credibility… it is a disservice to all the photographers making good work who havn’t landed the great assignments yet but have the integrity to not lie about what they have done.

  3. Well, when a company like adidas uses one of my images from getty for a nation ad campaign, i can say they are a client?

  4. I shot for the Village Voice once maybe…12 years ago. The people that hired me are no longer around. Legimate? maybe, maybe not. Over the past 10 years I’ve shot $100,000.00′s of work for Kodak; Annual Reports, consumer packaging, contless trade ads, several CEO portraits, etc….. Call the place now and most of the people that hired me are no longer around. I understand the point but with “clinets” constantlyu on the go and moving around

  5. I think the bigger problem is that people think it’s ok to list clients without reference to the work that was done. That is where the problems begin and that is where people start using the client list as a tool to fudge or manufacture their professional image.

  6. Yeah. It doesn’t matter if the person is still there to vouch for you it’s just that a list of people you’ve sold stock to seems pointless to me.

  7. y.a.p.- getty is dropping their rates on their stock through the floor, which will probably cause everybody else to do the same. Good image and volume volume volume seems to be the way to make money in stock these days, and that’s a big if.

  8. Adam,

    I’m very aware of the stock photo prices that seem to be hitting bottom. I guess my dry humor isn’t getting though my keyboard. It was also a side comment to a previous post about sellingv stock and using the client on your client list.

  9. Hey Bruce that Newseek gig back when you were 12 is still eligible there is no statute of limitations on listing magazines you have worked for no matter how long ago that was.

    Maybe we should start by taking magazines no longer in existence off our bios or are they still eligible APE ?

    Ths stock thing is sketchy I concur with APE.

  10. Red, I think you hit it on the head. A page of small thumbs of the work in context is 100% better than a list of clients. I can then see the application of the (hopefully) great photography that preceeds the page, put to good work.

    Curious if I-Stock has been used on someone’s list o’ clients.

  11. an emerging photographer

    To me it seems like APE’s complaint is more of a disconnect between what we as photographer’s want people to take away and what a photo editor or art director wants. eg. “How is this person to work with?” as opposed to “Look, these companies dig my work.”

  12. My pictures have appeared in just about every major magazine as a result of celebrity syndication sales. I’ve been in GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue in a dozen language editions. The client list on my site, though respectable, is much shorter. There’s no one on there I don’t work with regularily.

  13. Hahahaha. This is funny. I have seen a lot of bullshit on client lists and resumes and it usually betrays a lack of experience more than a history of it.

    Face it: if you shoot a picture for Getty and it ends up in a Nike/Citibank/Adidas/etc. campaign, the only company who you can ethically list as your client is GETTY. The ad agency & end user is GETTY’s client and not yours.

    It is ethical to say “_____’s images have appeared in magazines such as _____ and in advertisements for _____” although it’s not exactly full disclosure and whenever I see that, the bullshit-o-meter goes off big time.

    My favorite laugh is when I see MY clients on a past assistant’s resume… “_____ has worked with clients such as _______, _________,” blah blah blah – jobs on which they ASSISTED ME. I SHIT YOU NOT. It has happened to me.

    Or when I get CVs from kids at the intern level who list past positions like “creative director” or “photographer” (then why the hell do you want to work for little ol’ me?).

  14. Actually, in order to keep abreast of the BS artists, I’m just going to have to up the ante and have my client list read:

    Dude’s prolific career has spanned many decades and has included several retrospectives at the Whitney Museum, MoMA, The Tate Modern and his work has graced the covers of every issue of Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, Harper’s Bazaar, V, Dazed and Confused, i-D, National Geographic and Popular Science. Dude was honored with an entire issue of Visionaire dedicated to him and is credited with the invention of the photo strobe, digital photography, gelatin silver emulsion and with the invention of the lens. Dude also discovered light. Dude has shot advertisements for, well, EVERYTHING. Name it, he shot it. All those other credits are just typos. Dude did it all. Really. And they all won awards.

  15. How about this scenario for listing stock sales – we have a minimum dollar threshold. While, I’ve never listed any stock sales as clients I did have a situation last year where Getty sold an image of mine to Arnold Worldwide for 16K – I have tried but been unable to find out who Arnold’s client was – and while I technically didn’t shoot for them, I feel like I should be able to list them as a client- no?

  16. Russell,

    Arnold Worldwide is Getty’s client. Sorry. Getty is your client. Not as impressive but it’s the truth.

    The stink-test for a client list is this… you should be able to use the clients name in the following statement: I have shot for _______.

    Can you say “I have shot for Arnold Worldwide”? Nope. Can you say “I have shot for Getty Images”? Yep.

  17. I don’t know. I am trying to establish myself as a photographer. Currently I only shoot stock. I don’t list advertising firms that use my work as clients, but if I go out and shoot an image on spec, with a certain advertising use in mind, and a major advertising company later licenses it for that intended use, I think it does count for something. I have no illusions about being hired to shoot a major ad campaign as a result, but it does give potential clients an indication of my ability as a photographer, and if I could find a tearsheet I would not hesitate to add it to my portfolio.

    And it’s not true what “dude” says (hard to take people seriously when they don’t use their real name, anyway). Getty is not a client. Getty is your distributor, whom you have granted permission to market and sell your work on your behalf. There is nothing unethical about listing the ad agency as the client. It isn’t even misleading. They did after all use your work.

    Ultimately I think APE is simply reading the client list using the wrong assumptions. A client list is simply a list of your customers. Whether you covered their annual holiday event or shot a large ad campaign for them, the list doesn’t say.

  18. Shit happens and people forget you shot for them, who cares!

    If your work is good, it speaks for itself. I never bother with client references, if they like it I get paid, If they don’t, then move on.

    The best form of reference is the shot or copies of the original publication, magazine, website, movie or whatever in which its featured.

    Every picture apparently speaks a thousand words, I’ve yet to enjoy an unpublished comment that could muster the same.