Talent Pool

I joined Denver Egotist this weekend thinking it would be a good place to list my business. (Portfolio samples coming later). I'm not new to the area or the business - I have 15+ years of experience. I'm currently listed with www.WonderfulMachine.com and www.ASMP.org and can be found on the first page of Google under most relevant searches. I shoot people - Not product, not architecture. I'm clear on what I'm selling.

Here's my take on this talent "resource".

The Denver Egotist wants to provide a resource to find a good LOCAL photographer (I'm in that business so I'm running with it but I think it applies to other talent areas also) but needs to take the following into account:

Google does whatever it can to get relevant returns on keyword searches or its customers go away and start using the next latest and greatest search engine. It uses spiders to crawl around sites to make sure the content is what it's supposed to be - to be relevant to those aforementioned searches on keywords.

ASMP.org (for example) has a "find a photographer" feature that used to be relevant - It did the job to find a good photographer - especially for editorial - in any city in the USA. But, because of the large number of photographers in their system and the large number of now unqualified photographers (with all due respect, senior portrait and wedding photographers are not editorial, corporate and advertising photographers), the fact that some VERY relevant specialties have been dropped, and the fact that the new search engine gives too many returns, the FAP feature is now pretty much useless. Who has time to look through 50 portfolios. Wouldn't it be annoying to be looking for a portrait photographer and have to wade through 20 architectural shooters? There are plenty of other talent search engines making the same mistakes - Way too many people on the sites to be useful.

So, with the above points in mind, I just looked through the Photographer Talent Listing on Denver Egotist again and I find photographers listed who don't live in Colorado, students in other cities who haven't graduated yet, people listed under photography who are designers, writers, art directors and illustrators.

With all due respect, Denver Egotist, how is this a good resource to find a local photographer in Denver?


There has never been a better time to be an Art Buyer. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a *professional services listing. Today any Art Buyer can spend 4 hours online and bookmark every qualified photographer, designer, illustrator, etc. within a 500 mile radius. Art Buyers no long have an excuse for not finding the right match. BUT we, as freelancers, now have the responsibility of educating our potential clients on where to find the most qualified applicants. My advice. Never search a FREE listing. MOST professional creatives will go the extra mile to pay for a listing on a reputable creative list like http://www.workbook.com, http://www.wonderfulmachione.com and altpick.com. Yes, the Egotist Talent listing is great (small) now, but wait until three hundred plus creatives create a profile. Now your listing is crowded and somewhat worthless. I preferred the Egotist's Recommended Talent listing, at least we had to work hard to make that list! * "not making a living any other way. I say that because that’s how I define being a professional."

As a photographer on Alt Pick, Photoserve and recently on the Denver Egotist. I feel that not all art buyers (or anyone else in looking for a photographer) will do that all in the same place. You need to realize the the web is a very large place and it behooves you to be in as many places as possible. The more places your seen the more likely you are to be remembered. And hey, it free.

I hate having to choose from 100 brands of toothpaste. They're all the same right? I'm sure that's how most Art Buyers feel when faced with 100 photographers online. Just a little marketing research revealed: During the past 10 years, I have received around 1000 emails and phone calls as a result of my MANY online contact listings. 500+ of those jobs were existing clients from years of cold-call marketing, 350 or less were new clients from my Wonderful Machine, my Altpick and my PhotoServe listings. 150 or less were a result of social networking and my Weblog, 0 as a result of my ADCD listing (3 years), 0 as a result of my Denver Egotist listing (2 years) and 0 as a result of Google's search engine. Fact is, most Colorado agencies and publications hire creatives by word-of-mouth or traditional portfolio reviews. Larger agencies and publications outside of Colorado use respected online portfolio sites to hire creatives. My online contact listings are strictly intended for out-of-town clients looking for a Colorado photographer to complete a Colorado assignment. 10 years of research and photography doesn't lie.

@doncudneyphoto The only reference to you on our site has been through a link to your blog in our footer and a couple posts we've done on your work over the last couple years. Don't be so quick to lump us into your 'no business' category. We've gotten dozens of emails from people with other specialties telling us that a feature on our site got them a full-time gig or ongoing freelance. With all the work we put into rebuilding the site, we have to believe that's going to continue for you and everyone else.

It's not a perfect system, but it is better than anything that exists locally to help corral everyone in one place for easy reference. It's always been our view that most people would rather work with a local photographer, if possible, because of the convenience, the ability to have a face-to-face meeting with someone, the chance to support the local economy/community, etc. The 'if possible' part is the problem. Great local photographers are hard to find (but they are out there).

So, we'd argue (and can prove it through our own experiences over the last 20 years) that once finding a great photographer locally, agencies stick with that person for the majority of what they need. Cultivator uses John Johnston almost exclusively, for instance. It works this way for any partner an agency needs – freelance designers, printers... There's too much on the line to risk using someone new, so people stay loyal and rarely stretch outside their comfort zone.

Additionally, only a handful of the biggest/best local agencies ever go outside this market to find a photographer (using those typical resources you mentioned). Most, have the mentality that they will work locally – the thinning of budgets hasn't helped this situation either.

What we seek to do is put a bunch of really good local resources in front of people who already need them here in Denver. If their favorite photographer is busy, or they see something new and exciting that would fit their project on our site, they'll easily be able to contact you. Over time, with a lot of photographers all listing themselves on the site, we can convince even those who typically go outside the market for talent, that it's all right here in town and they don't need to leave.

It won't happen instantly, but we can tell you we've gotten many emails over the last couple years from people who have gotten business from a simple listing on our site. So we're not giving up on it yet.

I apologize Denver Egotist. I wasn't implying your Talent Resource or the ADCD's Talent Resource wasn't necessary, but once a Search Engine allows the general public to post at will - for FREE, all professionalism is thrown out the window. Example: Ever try to find a capable advertising or editorial photographer on Google or Yahoo? Good luck weeding through 1,000 of inexperienced wedding and event photographers, local and international to find one good food photographer in Denver. My work is 85% editorial magazine and considering there is less than 10 magazines in the Denver area, 95% of those editorial assignments come from out-of-town publishers who would NEVER resort to finding a photographer on Google, Yahoo or Craigslist, because as you mentioned, there is far too much on the line to risk using someone new or inexperienced. I'm just happy The Denver Egotist believes my work is worthy of posting on your Talent Resource link and weblog. Thank you.

We're all in this together, and we're fairly certain we all want the same thing – more visibility for the talented people who deserve to be getting the work here in Colorado. We'd love suggestions on how to make the system better. We don't want the yellow pages, which is why we left the ability to recommend people intact. With 550 members in less than two weeks, we've yet to spend the time tagging everyone who deserves a recommendation. But we will.

Please send ideas our way. We consider this thing liquid and we want to make it as useful for you as for the people searching for what you do.


Advice? Never allow someone to simply sign up. Have a Portfolio Review. Unfortunately, in the professional services industry political correctness is a deficit. Occasionally you just have to say NO. NO you are not good enough to list on our website or to hire for this project. The Denver Egotist had no problem doing this before the redesign. For example, once the American Society of Media Photographers stopped portfolio reviews (stopped saying NO) and stopped requiring their members to provide printed tearsheets every two years, their membership rose by 300% and now the FAP link is useless to an Art Buyer. I'm not saying this.....every Photo Editor and Art Director at every publication that I've worked for in the past two years has told me this fact. They've said, "Too many websites...I've gone back to word of mouth." By forcing a creative to PAY TO PLAY or EARN THEIR SPOT, you avoid as my buddy says, the bottom feeders or as you said, a yellow pages mentality. Think Blackbook. $3,000 just to start advertising. A photographer had better be pretty good or really confident to buy space in that book, right? Again, I preferred your Recommend Talent list, which by the way, I wasn't included. Maybe if I WORK HARDER, right? Just my two cents. Thanks again.P.S. This post is not directed at someone currently listed on the Denver Egotist's Resource list....just commenting from experience.

@doncudneyphoto I think you're pretty much on the mark Don, but I disagree with your statement, "Ever try to find a capable advertising or editorial photographer on Google or Yahoo? Good luck weeding through 1,000 of inexperienced wedding and event photographers, local and international to find one good food photographer in Denver." I think if a client is educated enough to use strong keywords, then you (and I) are going to be in the first five or six returns on the first page. I get one or two phone calls a week from good Google placement - And not pay per click. But your point is well heard. I think art buyers have a hard time wading through what they don't want to find what they want and...

@Denver Egotist - That was pretty much my point in the first place. I think your idea of putting talent in one pool is commendable but if it is a Denver resource, to find a Denver talent, then why listings from all over? Why students listed in other cities that haven't graduated yet? Why writers and illustrators under photographers? ASMP.org is finding a lot of people choosing NOT to renew their memberships this year for some of those very reasons... I think you need to check the list to see how relevant it is to "photography" listing, or writer, or whatever... I don't think it will be useful at all when you have a hundred or two hundred or three hundred people signing up in each category. I think Google will be (is) a better way to go - In fact, if photographers, writers, etc. have good SEO/meta tags/keywords AND a client is savvy enough to type in "City, specialty, photographer", then it's a great resource.

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