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  • Katelin Kinney

Top Photographer Directories

Many photographers in the commercial world have heard of photographer directories. A directory is a company/website that has a roster of artists it displays. They usually offer other services like promoting artists through email or printed promos, online or in person meetings with industry pros, or presenting certain artists in a deck for potential clients looking to hire. Most of them are subscription based where the photographer/artist pays to be included in the roster. Many of them require the artist to apply with a portfolio in order to be approved to be included in the roster.


Some people are initially confused in thinking that these directories are similar to or a substitute for an artist's rep/agent. They're very different. An agent or rep works closely 1-on-1 with you to help you run your business and gain new work. A directory is just another avenue for self advertising. I like to think of them as the yellow book pages of photographers (for those of us old enough to remember using phone books). This is essentially like you buying space in a magazine or billboard to promote yourself further to areas you may not have been exposed to yet. These directories also work best when you put effort in as well- keeping profiles updated, sending in new content for the directory to promote, etc.


For a little over a year I've been included on multiple directories including: Wonderful Machine, PhotoPolitic, Found, BLVD Artists, and The Luupe. Below is my overview of each one and a rating of 0-5 where 5 is the best. Also I have not tried it yet, but I would include AtEdge in the top directories to consider if you're looking to add this to your self marketing tools.


Reaching new clients: 4

Calibre of photographers on the roster: 3

Website layout and usability for clients: 3 Promotional opportunities for members: 3

Cost: 2

Transparency: 5 First up is Wonderful Machine. I'll tell you right off the bat this is the only directory that I know for sure has resulted in clients finding me and contacting me. I've bid on 2 very major jobs and got 1 medium sized job for a large brand. Overall I do think for how the artists' work is displayed on the website directory the monthly subscription is overpriced. However, it does seem that Wonderful Machine is one of the more well known directories in the industry. So I look at it as I'm paying for their connections and not so much how well they display my work to be easily searchable or found. It does also appear to me to be used more as a google-type search engine for specific geographical locations. Most of the inquiries I've gotten have been from people looking for photographers or assistants in a specific city. So this could either be valuable to you if you're in a city with very few other search results, or you could easily get lost in a sea of artists in the larger metropolitan locations. Wonderful Machine is also great at being transparent. They offer data insights to members about how well the email blasts are doing, their social media engagement, etc. Overall I would definitely suggest checking out this directory and seeing how it works for you.



FOUND- 3.5

Reaching new clients: 3

Calibre of photographers on the roster: 3

Website layout and usability for clients: 5 Promotional opportunities for members: 4

Cost: 5

Transparency: 2


Next is Found. As far as I know I haven't received any client outreach from this platform. However, I have heard Found mentioned many times throughout industry hiring pro's so it's definitely well known. It's just hit or miss whether someone uses it. Found seems to be very heavy into the print promotions, but this is pretty much a dying method especially with the shift from office to work from home. So, I would not suggest sinking in the money for that extra promotion outlet. The best aspects to Found are the extremely affordable price and the fact that they have one of the best designed and easiest to navigate platforms for creatives looking to hire a photographer. They do make the process pretty simple for sharing and submitting your new work. The calibre of other photographers- much like Wonderful Machine- is a big mixture in my opinion. You get some insanely high level skills mixed with some pretty run of the mill average stuff. The biggest area I think Found needs to improve upon is informing their members of how they're being promoted. I reached out wanting to cancel my membership a few months ago and got a response telling me the various email promotions I'd been included in, how many times my profile had been visited and even some of the brands/clients that had clicked my profile, as well as a client they suggested me to along with a deck of some other relevant artists. I had no idea this was all being done, so I decided to keep my membership. It would be nice, though, to get a regular update on how I'm being promoted so I know my membership is worth it.



Reaching new clients: 4

Calibre of photographers on the roster: 5

Website layout and usability for clients: 4 Promotional opportunities for members: 5

Cost: 3

Transparency: 3


BLVD Artists (Boulevard Artists) is still a bit of a mystery to me as to how valuable the membership is. I did recently end my membership, but I have this feeling that there is a lot of potential there if I were further along in my career and business practice. The absolute best thing that BLVD has is the portfolio reviews- both online and in person. They have an impressive network of creative directors, art directors, producers, etc. available for meeting 1-on-1 with you. I've had such great feedback and connections made through this and honestly it's the method I'm leaning on the most right now for networking. The great thing is you can purchase these reviews whether you're a member or not. Members do get a discount, but ultimately I could not see how my membership was really benefiting me enough to justify the discount when I really just needed the portfolio reviews. Having said this, they have some of the highest level photographers and artists I've seen on a directory, so I KNOW the membership has to be paying off and worth it for some of these photographers. I honestly think I'm just not there yet in my client work to stand out enough to get hired and make the membership worth the fees. This may be a directory I go back to in the future though. Until then I'll take as many portfolio reviews as I can afford each year.



Reaching new clients: 0

Calibre of photographers on the roster: 3

Website layout and usability for clients: 2 Promotional opportunities for members: 2

Cost: 5

Transparency: 3


Hear me out first. I don't hate this platform, I really don't. First of all it's free for being on the roster, so why not get yourself on there? They also are only for female and non male identifying photographers which is great as we need a better balance of representation. I think their mission is wonderful. The problem I have with Luupe is that they're trying to do WAY too many things all at once and it's really overwhelming. As photographers we're busy with our actual client work, our own social media, website, self promotion, etc. We need something quick and simple to promote ourselves on. Instead I actually still do not understand or know all the outlets Luupe is offering. They have a search directory, but it seems less robust than the other directories. They have a slack channel for photographers to instant message each other- which in theory sounds great, but there are so many conversation topics in there and I don't need to be checking my phone even more with more notifications just for a directory platform. They're offering contracts and paperwork you can purchase and download which is handy, but just another aspect of the website to understand- makes me think of a less organized version of The Weekend Creative which has mastered this business model. Luupe also appears to be really pushing the direction of stock photos or shooting on spec- they'll ask for everyone to submit photos for a specific brief a client sent in. I really don't like this business model as the main focus of a company and prefer it to be a secondary option of income. Focusing so heavily on stock requests makes the directory feel like a lower quality small budget resource instead of a high calibre creative roster. They also seem to accept anyone and everyone who understands basic photography and lighting, meaning you're going to be forever lost in a sea of names. Overall I have no idea if I've been included in any promotions, searches, or if a single client has seen my profile. This platform has a lot of great ideas, but is new enough that they're struggling to get them organized in a strong and commanding way, and I'm fearful they're heading in a direction that actually uses the photographers on the roster as easy profit quick hires instead of really connecting professionals with industry creatives.



Reaching new clients: 3

Calibre of photographers on the roster: 5

Website layout and usability for clients: 5 Promotional opportunities for members: 4

Cost: 3

Transparency: 4



PhotoPolitic is one that I think of similarly to BLVD Artists. They both have an insane calibre of photographers on their roster. It is one of the pricier platforms, but to look at the quality of other artists, that seems appropriate. The website and layout are also very well designed and easy to navigate for creatives searching to hire. Promotional opportunities are by and large the member stories (basically little blog posts) which get put out into email blasts. Artists can also be included in decks presented to potential clients, though I'm not sure how often that happens and am not notified if and when that happens. The great thing so far, which may change as PhotoPolitic grows, is that I'm in contact with only one person for all of my questions and promotional stories. Having this be a one man show makes communication easy. I feel very similarly about PhotoPolitic in the way I do about BLVD Artists, that I think there is a lot more power and potential to be had with this platform as I grow my client base and business. The only downside is that PhotoPolitic is a very people based photo genre platform, so this may not be the best option for product or table top style photographers. Overall would definitely suggest checking this one out as well.


In general when I've heard photographers express disappointment in a directory it's normally because their expectations don't align with the role of a directory. Remember these are not a solution to you not having enough clients. They aren't going to do the same role as an artist rep or agent. This is advertising space you are purchasing for yourself. It's going to be hit or miss whether you get direct inquiries from these platforms, and by and large you're not going to be able to accurately calculate an ROI (return on investment) to see in black and white numbers if it's worth it to subscribe as a member. I've heard people saying if you can afford it you should be everywhere possible, meaning include yourself on every platform. Not a bad plan if the money isn't a problem for you. Each platform has its pro's and con's. Don't be afraid to ask them questions before subscribing. Maybe you'll get the biggest and best job of your life through one of these. Maybe you'll never hear from a single person. Maybe you'll show up in results and be someone that a creative flags and keeps in their back pocket for something later on. You really just never know!

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