Survey Reveals How Photo Buyers Find and Hire Photographers

PhotoShelter has published results from their 2013 Survey of  What Buyers Want From Photographers. The free report provides insights about how buyers like to be pitched, where they find photographers to hire, and the most important elements of the a photographer’s website.


The survey results are based on 340 responses from photo buyers and creatives at advertising agencies, design firms, nonprofits, editorial publications, book publishers, and corporations who are part of the Agency Access global database. Agency Access is is a full-service marketing resource that helps freelance artists find work.

The most common titles of the respondents were art director, creative director, art producer, editorial photo editor, copywriter, graphic designer, and senior designer. Some of the companies they worked for include Olgivy & Mather, Saatchi & Saatchi, Conde Nast, Harper Collins, McGraw-Hill Education, Texas Creative, IPC Media, and Modern Luxury.

In the 2013 “What Buyers Want” survey report, the responses are grouped into four categories:

  • Hiring photographers
  • Marketing to photo buyers
  • Websites and file delivery
  • Working with photographers

The results answer common questions such as:

  • Do video skills get you a gig?
  • Where do buyers find photographers and photography?
  • Do buyers hire new photographers?
  • Do buyers search for new talent?
  • Is a photographer’s location key to getting hired?
  • Do buyers take in-person meetings?
  • How important are personal projects?
  • Is a photographer’s company knowledge important?
  • How many images should go in your portfolio?
  • How do buyers like images delivered?

Here are some key findings from PhotoShelter’s 2013 survey of photo buyers:

  • 75.6 percent say that compared to 2012, their budgets are increasing or staying the same.
  • 35.4 percent have discovered a new photographer through social media
  • 71.7 percent say they look at unsolicited marketing pitches that are relevant to their needs
  • 33.6 percent cite “easy navigation” as the most important element of a photographer’s website

PhotoShelter has supplemented the statistical data with interviews with major photo buyers and tips on email and direct-mail promotions.

“A direct-mail piece doesn’t depend as much on the quality or size as it does on the image and typography,” said the photo editor at an editorial publication.”I don’t need fancy envelopes or multi-page glossy hardbound books If the image is memorable, I will put it up on my wall or in my box of promos to keep.”

On the importance of personalizing a pitch, one ad agency creative director offered this advice: “Make sure your email comes across as genuine. This means don’t act like a car salesman with gimmicky phrases and subject lines. Make the email personal. We can smell a form letter in seconds.”

Factors that influence hiring decisions include the photographer’s personality, level of interest in the project, location, pricing, and schedule conflicts.

One marketing agency representative said, “Personality and a photographer’s lack of interest can be major obstacles. We have found artists based on their work, but once we call to get to know him or her better, their personality can sway our decision.”

Learn from Previous Surveys

For an even more thorough understanding of what photo buyers look for, download the survey results from 2011 and 2012. The 2011 and 2012 “What Photo Buyers Want” surveys are part of PhotoShelter’s ongoing series of free business guides for photographers. PhotoShelter’s library includes 30+ educational guides on topics such as creating a successful photography portfolio, email marketing, and starting a photography business.

About PhotoShelter and Agency Access

PhotoShelter offers professional, reliable and innovative online tools to build and grow a successful photography business. Its latest release, Beam, offers a suite of portfolio website templates built with the latest technology to showcase images at their best. Over 80,000 photographers use PhotoShelter’s websites, social and SEO tools, online image archives, and image delivery and e-commerce tools.

Two PhotoShelter executives, Allen Murabayashi and Andrew Fingerman, will present a seminar on “Building the Right Audience Online” at PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York. The seminar is scheduled from 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Thursday, October 24.

Agency Access provides direct marketing for commercial photographers, illustrators, artist reps and stock agencies. They offer educational services, consulting and design services, integrated marketing tools, phone marketing support, and access to a global database of 90,000-plus commercial art buyers at ad agencies, magazines, book publishers, in-house advertising departments, graphic design firms and architectural firms.



2013 Survey: What Buyers Want from Photographers

PhotoShelter Library of Business Guides for Photographers

Agency Access


Guide Describes 11 Secrets of a Great Photography Website

PHOTOGRAPHERS. A free guide from PhotoShelter provides a quick, easy-to-read overview of “11 Secrets to a Great Photo Website.” They point that your website must quickly convince visitors that they have found exactly what they are looking for: If your website helps them do that, and clients are impressed with with your professionalism, “there’s a solid chance they will do business with you, come back again, and tell their friends to do the same.”  Paying attention to a few commonly overlooked details could result in more jobs.

The experts at PhotoShelter recommend evaluating your website once a year, especially as your business grows and evolves. Does it continue to provide the tools, features, and flexibility you need to help grow your presence online and beyond?


The 20-page guide discusses 11 ways your website can be adjusted to attract more clients and photo buyers, encourage word-of-mouth referrals, and grow your business. It also previews PhotoShelter’s newest portfolio offerings, which can help your photos look their best, whether they are being viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

“These days, people are viewing your website on all kinds of devices, and technology is allowing for sites to automatically scale to the appropriate size without the need for an app,” the guide explains. With responsive website design, images will literally resize to fit the screen they are viewed on. Responsive website designs offer SEO and social media advantages and eliminate the need to update content in multiple locations.

The guide includes 10 questions to ask when choosing a photo website provider and advice for photographers who fear image theft if they display large, full-bleed images on their sites.
The guide “11 Secrets to a Great Photo Website” is the latest in PhotoShelter’s ongoing series of free business guides for photographers and marketing professionals. PhotoShelter’s e-book library includes 25+ educational guides including topics such as social media, email marketing, and starting a photography business.


11 Secrets to a Great Photo Website

About PhotoShelter

PhotoShelter’s Free Business Guides for Photographers

Guide Shows How To Sell Fine Art Photography Online

To learn how PhotoShelter’s website and back-end tools can be used to improve online sales of your fine art photography, check out their new guide “The Fine Art Photographer’s Tour of Photoshelter.”

PhotoShelterFineArtPhotographersGuideThe 16-page guide talks about how to build an audience, attract new clients, and make the online buying process totally seamless.

The first section shows how PhotoShelter can help your brand remain front and center throughout the entire ordering process. The authors note that “Your brand’s overall look and feel are especially important because you are asking potential clients to see premium value in your work—and pay a price in accordance with that value.”

The second section highlights PhotoShelter themes that let your images speak for themselves: “We hear from art buyers again and again that the number-one thing they want when viewing a photographer’s work online is an easy-to-navigate site with all of the contact and purchasing information readily accessible. Fine art photographers should think of their website like a gallery show—you want it to be clean and free of clutter, and to showcase your images in a well laid out and thoughtful way.”

In the section on building an audience, PhotoShelter emphasizes the fact that their websites are optimized for SEO (search engine optimization): “If you appear at the top of search results, then you’ll get more visitors to your website and thus more potential clients. This means no Flash-based sites (Google and other search engines can’t ‘crawl’ these site) and a focus on page factors that affect your SEO ranking (page title, image captions, meta descriptions, etc.)

The guide emphasizes that fine-art photographers should be keywording and captioning all of their images and galleries with relevant terms that buyers might be searching for: “Gallery owners and artist reps tell us that their clients are using search engines more and more—for example, to purchase photos that commemorate a trip or event.”

The final section of the guide talks about some of the options for having your images printed and delivered to your clients. For example, you can use one of PhotoShelter’s four integrated print vendors or browse the PhotoShelter Print Vendor Network. Through this network of 220+ print vendors worldwide, you can link up with any vendor that matches your specific needs—whether it’s a lab in your neighborhood or closer to client overseas.  You can reduce shipping costs by having a fine-art print created and shipped from a lab that is closer to your where your customer lives.

Although PhotoShelter can totally automate the process of accepting and processing orders for fine-art photo prints, you can choose to handle some parts of the process yourself. For example, if you want to sell signed, limited edition, or framed prints, you can make your own prints or work with the vendor you have been using for years.  Or, you can simply use the website as a “window into your business” and communicate with clients before they make a purchase. Even if you print and ship the order yourself, you can collect the payment online through PhotoShelter’s shopping cart.


The Fine Art Photographer’s Tour of PhotoShelter

About PhotoShelter


FolioLink Helps Photographers and Artists Promote Events

FolioLink develops visually rich Flash and HTML websites for photographers, artists, and galleries who want to showcase, sell, and deliver images online. The sites combine distinctive aesthetics with features that make it easy for creative professionals to manage and update the sites themselves.

Regardless of where your current website is hosted, you can use FolioLink’s new Promote Me Pages service to create online self-promotion materials that deliver high-impact visual content without interfering with your main portfolio website.

You can use Promote Me Pages to advertise events, new lines of work, publications, gallery openings, behind-the-scenes videos, workshops, and other activities.

The service enables you to create elegant, standalone micro-sites that support text, imagery, and videos. Each micro-site can be aesthetically tailored so that your self-promotion efforts are visually consistent with the look and feel of your website. The pages can viewed on PCs, Macs, laptops, iPhones, and iPads and can be used to drive traffic either to your main website, or other destinations such as Facebook pages or your Twitter account. Promote Me Pages can also be used in conjunction with your blog.

The introductory subscription price of $99 per year enables you to publish 99 PromoteMe pages . FolioLink clients can benefit from the Promote Me Pages services at a discounted price.

FolioLink is part of ISProductions, a Virginia-based technology company founded in 1987. FolioLink develops Internet tools geared to help photographers and artists capitalize on the business opportunities of the web.

Earlier this year, they announced the ability to automatically optimize clients’ online portfolios for the iPhone interface.

FolioLink also offers an Image Archive standalone e-commerce website with the workflow, proofing, and presentation features needed by commercial, stock, editorial, event, and fine-art photographers as well as artists and galleries.



Examples of Promote Me Pages