Expert Advice: Online Photographer Directories
by Wonderful Machine
Every photographer needs to connect with clients. For the ones you know about, you can reach out directly, using emails, printed promos, or through social media (these are examples of active marketing). However, there are lots of clients out there that might be a great match for you, but you just don't know about them. So you have to make it easy for them to find you. One way to do that is with a listing in a photographer directory (which is an example of passive marketing).
There are 3 main types of directories that commercial and editorial photographers use to promote themselves:
- General Interest directories (for lack of better term) show a wide range of commercial and editorial photographers and promote them to an equally wide range of clients.
- Niche directories show a more specific type of photographer and promote them to a more specific audience.
- Mass-Market directories show a broader range of creatives (like illustrators, designers, art directors, and more), and those platforms serve as creative communities as much as creating business connections.
What are the benefits of these directories? First, they show your work to a larger audience than you may be able to reach on your own. Plus many of them also offer portfolio reviews, networking events, and other useful services. We usually recommend that photographers be listed on at least two or three of these directories. There are some of the more prominent ones:
This Barcelona-based directory focuses on commercial and editorial photography and also has sections of their website dedicated to production and crew for photo and video. More than 100,000 visitors come to their site each month to look for the best creative talents or services they can hire for their next campaign. The photographer directory includes about 2,200 registered members from around the globe, more than half of whom reside in Europe. Production Paradise publishes two digital magazines of their photographers’ work: Spotlight (focusing on various specialities; most recently people and lifestyle, food and drink, fashion and beauty) and the other publication, Showcase (focusing on photographers’ location; most recently Austria, Spain, South Africa, Los Angeles, Germany and China), which they send out to about 200,000 subscribers from Brands and Advertising Agencies in more than 180 countries. A photographer listing costs $330/year, but as Catherine Delaloye, the Head Office General Manager, explained to me, they work hard to customize promotional packages for each of the photographer’s needs.
“Our Members can add digital publications, social media posts or banners to get more visibility and reach the art buyers and brands they are most interested in. Customized visibility packages are ranging from $600 up to $3000."
Le Book is an international directory of fashion, editorial, and advertising photographers with offices in Paris, London, and New York. Le Book is also more than just the name of the company — it’s the title of the book they release each year to more than 50,000 potential clients. Le Book can be purchased by anyone with $300 to spare. For $1,320/year, subscribers get an appearance in the print edition of Le Book as well as various other benefits, such as up to ten taggable portfolios for different categories of work and a one-year self-curated gallery on LeBook.com.
According to their website, “the most famed photographers, art directors, stylists, and model agencies; the most lauded producers, location finders, photo labs, rental studios, event spaces, and caterers; the pre-eminent record labels, magazines, advertising agencies, fashion designers, and PR firms can all be found in LEBOOK”. On top of all this, I spoke with Le Book CEO Fabien Duverneuil about the Connections events they host.
“We now do 12 shows, one every month,” he explained. These shows happen annually in Europe and the United States, and they are not small.
“There are around 80 jurors to judge the work, and around 600 visitors throughout the day,” Duverneuil tells me. While the jury is there to award prizes at the end of the show, Connections is primarily a networking event to connect creatives and clients, with both groups having booths at the trade show-esque events. If a photographer’s application to join the event is accepted, they still have to pay 7,500 GBP — around $9,150 — to get in.
Another platform for commercial and editorial photographers, Boulevard Artists, is a membership-based marketing agency located in New York City. They describe their membership, which sits at around 50 photographers, as a “community,” and they offer a variety of services to these members. Boulevard approaches their marketing efforts like a roster, actively promoting members and personally interacting with creatives in putting together custom lists of members that fit what the client is looking for. Boulevard hosts in-person portfolio reviews around the country, in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas in addition to their native New York. These reviews are co-organized with NYC Foto Works and feature one-on-one meetings between photographers and reviewers whom the photographers personally request. Additionally, Boulevard hosts around 15 agency visits per year, where they go to the ad agencies to show their members' portfolios. Each member of Boulevard Select will have their portfolio shown to 10-12 agencies each year. Boulevard also offers a range of professional consulting, editing, design, estimation, and production needs. Regular membership comes in at $1400/year. Their invitation-only membership, Boulevard Select, costs around $7000.
Based in Beverly Hills, CA, Workbook has been around for over 40 years. They publish a printed directory each year which gets sent out to about 35,000 clients. Getting listed in their searchable, online directory of over 41,000 industry members is free, but their other offerings such as portfolio help, social media presence, and marketing assistance are not complementary. Beyond social outreach and networking events, the online portfolios at Workbook present artwork in a gallery view, with artists, images, and video searchable. Additionally, print copies of their Illustration and Photography Annuals can be purchased for $50 each, or $90 for the two-volume set.
Found is an invitation-only directory that offers their member photographers inclusion in printed sourcebooks that are published twice a year, portfolio reviews, promo decks (as described on their website: "a box of 5"x5" cards, each one featuring an artist and their contact info"), and emailers. They also offer personalized consulting - including branding, marketing, estimating, and production help.
Wonderful Machine is an invitation-only directory of about 600 photographers, two-thirds of whom reside in the United States. Wonderful Machine costs around $2,000/year for U.S.-based photographers and they offer substantial discounts for international photographers. Their 34 staff members maintain a database of over 50,000 industry professionals through organic research. They promote their photographers to about 20,000 publications, agencies, and brands around the world using a combination of mass email, individual emails, social media, publicity, phone calls, and portfolio events. Their consultants are available to help all photographers with branding, marketing, estimating, and shoot production. Wonderful Machine has gained a reputation for being an experienced and trusted advisor to both photographers and their clients. They regularly publish Expert Advice articles (like this one!), providing useful information for photographers, and they are perhaps best-known for the estimating advice they provide for photographers (famously excerpted each month on aPhotoEditor).
Blink began primarily as a directory in 2014 but has since morphed into a production company as well. Started by two former Wall Street Journal photo editors, Blink has a network of 22,000 filmmakers, photographers, and journalists that span 3,600 cities in 180 countries. They offer high volume production, brand content, curation, image processing, strategy, and design to their client base of over 1,200 brands, as well. There is a free membership option, though it is fairly limited. They also offer Pro and Plus memberships, which are $96 and $480/year, respectively.
AtEdge promotes a curated group of 150 photographers, directors, CGI and post-production specialists. Members are included in five annual gallery-style publications that are sent to key buyers in the advertising, editorial, fashion, and entertainment industries. AtEdge also holds exclusive face-to-face portfolio events that connect their talent with active creatives in New York and other major markets through personal meetings. By invitation only, the cost of their year-round cycle of digital, print and social media support is around $8,000 annually.
Based in Germany with a reach extending into France, Inpholio helps its database of 400 photographers boost their visibility to advertising clients for $370/year. They also offer listings for crew at a rate of $80/year.
One of, if not the least expensive photographer databases (at $99/year), this NYC-based directory promotes its roster of 1,450 photographers to buyers throughout the United States and internationally. They also maintain a blog called Altpick Connects and keep a 'news' and 'calendar' page for current information about their photographers and their endeavors.
Born in Brooklyn and now also based in Stowe, Vermont, Visura looks for “visual storytellers,” including journalists, illustrators, and artists — on top of photographers and videographers — to join their community platform for visual storytelling. Visura’s membership for visual storytellers start at $5/month and includes assistance with connecting creatives to clients, content managing, website creation, grant applications, and open calls.
Women Photograph – Women Photograph acts as a springboard for the 950 women and non-binary photojournalists in their directory, sharing digital portfolios with publications around the world as well as hosting workshops, helping with grant applications, and providing mentorships. They are also a grant-making organization and have disbursed about $120,000 over the past three years. Membership is free, though donations are accepted.
Natives Photograph – Founded in part by Women Photograph executive director and founder Daniella Zalcman, Natives Photograph is a database of 30-plus Native American photojournalists in North America. They promote their photographers to publications, photo editors, and creative directors.
Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) –The member-driven FFR has both free and paid membership options for their directory of 800+ crisis and combat photojournalists. While less of a marketing platform than the others listed here, FFR still holds networking events. They also provide safety kits and resources to all members, though all of those registered must adhere to their code of conduct. Those that have a paid membership can also get discounts on insurance policies through FFR.
Foto Feminas – Foto Feminas is a blog focused on female photographers, Foto Feminas concentrates on those specifically from Latin America and the Caribbean. Monthly online features go live on their website to promote members.
Diversify.Photo – A nonprofit directory of 300 photographers sponsored by Visura, it concentrates specifically on connecting photographers of color with art buyers, creative directors, and photo directors.
Native Agency - Also sponsored by Visura, Native Agency differs from Natives Photograph but holds a similar goal. They help documentary photographers from underrepresented regions gain visibility and access to global audiences via major publications. Mentorship programs, regional festivals, and workshops are offered as well.
Authority Collective - Another Visura-supported nonprofit, Authority Collective is, “a group of women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people of color taking action against systemic and individual abuses in the world of visual media.” In addition to empowering marginalized artists with resources and community, they also offer a variety of consulting services.
Behance - A social media platform for creatives, Behance — run by Adobe — does not have any costs associated with it. There is no limit on the amount of projects members can create, nor the amount of media that can be uploaded.
Krop - A platform to help creatives build their portfolios and gain exposure to prospective clients, Krop offers a free trial before diving into the service for $10/month. It’s free to link to an existing portfolio or search for job openings on the site.
Carbonmade - Carbonmade is an online portfolio database for photographers, illustrators, designers, copywriters, and other creatives. Carbonmade costs between $8 and $18/month depending on the plan. They also offer a free trial period for those curious.
This article was originally written by Justin Kohn and updated by Hannah Sirusas.
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Wonderful Machine is an art production agency with a network of 600 photographers in 44 countries. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. This article was also published here. If you have any questions, or if you need help with your social media presence, you can reach out to Wonderful Machine via email.