One mailer's story

In answering questions on Chase Jarvis Live, one of the themes that emerged as a hot topic was around how photographers should contact companies or prospective clients. A mailer? An e-mail? A portfolio?  I gave a few pointers that I thought would be helpful in Chase's blog, but also thought it'd be interesting to share a few real-world examples of how we experience new work and discover talent. I know photographers and creatives in general put a lot of work into how they represent their work, and it's often done with very little feedback after you hit send or put that stamp on it and send it into the cruel world. To help show that the world isn't entirely cruel, I thought I'd trace a mailer or two as we get 'em and describe how we interact with them. With that in mind, here's how one story played out.

My co-worker and awesome art director Brian Benthin (follow his twitter here) comes walking the ten steps over to my desk with a sharp looking photo bedecked envelope and says, "Check this out." If Brian's sharing it, it's bound to be good, relevant or just super interesting, so it already has my attention.

Good clean branding for Nick, and nice shot that's tied into the others.

The main spread.
Stylistically, it's compatible with what we're doing. It seems like an outdoor image happening, with nice cold tones and a cool pop of green. I'll bite.

I open it. Clean design, cool paper. I unfold it. Same runner, winter scene. A story is unfolding, supported by each additional image. Interesting casting, as it's an older women out running, not typical model perfection. Seems like it'd fit well with my "real people, real places" mantra. I tell Brian I dig it, and when I turn around he's already on Nick's site checking out his work.  We spend a bit of time digging through the portfolio, which we like because it's organized in stories, too. Love the portraits. I'm flipping the envelope over in my hand, notice a couple of stickers that tout his accomplishments -- one a PDN endorsement, and the other a call to a new motion project.  I like the confidence and third-party endorsement.

Brian checking out Nick's work online.

So that's the story of Nick's mailer. It didn't make us call him with an offer for a project instantaneously, but it had us enjoying his work, and thinking about how his style could fit into our plans. We now know Nick, and before he sent us this we didn't. Nick got our attention with a few smooth moves:

Great photos.
Clean design (trust us, we care about this)
Good story telling
Nicely edited photos
Unconventional casting

As others rise to the top of the pile, I'll try to share the experience as well. Hopefully this is interesting and helps make you feel like representing your art is worth the effort.

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