DPP Home Profiles Martin Wonnacott: Cake Factory

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Martin Wonnacott: Cake Factory

Photographer Martin Wonnacott set out to build a kinder, gentler agency—and he has succeeded

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"We have a very, very strict policy on our photographers," Wonnacott says. "They have to be very nice people. And that sounds so ridiculous, but we've had many people approach us, some pretty known people, who when you meet them, their personality, you think, this isn't going to work, I'm not going to deal with this. If your personality isn't right, you ain't coming in because we don't want the stress of dealing with that stuff. And it sounds a bit silly, but it's one of those things that, because we can control it, we do control it. There are some drama queens out there, and we don't really want to be associated with them. It's all about your name. We don't want to tarnish our name."

This is a lesson for anyone building any business, but especially photographers: Take care, and show it.

"I think we go the extra mile in the way that we're presenting ourselves," Wonnacott says. "I keep coming back to that, but I think that's so important. It comes back to this is the creative industry, the visual industry. It's about appealing to whom you're marketing. We're marketing to creatives who love design and love things that are nice-looking. Presentation is everything. It really is. There are 1,000 photographers who can shoot this, that and the other. If your presentation gets you through the door one step farther than someone else, that's good. If it's got a nice experience, then that's not a bad start."

While Wonnacott likely has more than doubled his workload, perhaps the biggest benefit of running his own agency is that he gets to sleep well at night. It's not only because he knows he's treating the photographers in his stable fairly, and because they're doing very good work and putting forth a refined brand, but because the photographer in him, the person who relies on getting new assignments to keep food on the table, knows firsthand that the agency is doing everything it can to bring in new work.

"At a big agency," Wonnacott asks, "are you being specifically targeted and shown to the right people? You've got no idea. I know what we're doing. From an outside perspective as a photographer looking in, you never know if the agent is really trying very hard to get you work."

Adds Wonnacott, "It comes back to trust. I know we can trust ourselves. I know how we talk to people and how we present ourselves, how we respond to people, how quick we are. My old agent used to leave to get the 5:20 train. And it was like, but what happens if something comes in after 5:20? I know we get back to people straight away. The way we talk to people is actually polite, stupid things like that. It doesn't have to be a fight. We can be nice. There's no excuse for not being nice."

See more work from photographers represented by Martin Wonnacott's Cake-Factory at www.cake-factory.com.


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