10 minutes with Deborah Schwartz of DS Reps

Interviews with Photo Agents April 1, 2015 10:28 am

When did you first become interested in photography?

I was a pre-med major in college and knew it wasn’t a fit. And when I took an elective in photography, I was lucky to get a teacher who was interested in documentary photography. It was there that I discovered that there were other people out in the world who questioned the normalcy of what is considered to be normal – and I knew I had found my path.

What led you to start your own agency?

I worked briefly for a rep part time while I was shooting and assisting and just trying to get by. I just didn’t feel like that person worked very hard nor did I think that they were really very connected to photography, but they had a pretty successful agency. I thought that if they could do well in this business – I could absolutely do it based on my total love of photography, my work ethic and my comfort with people.

Do you see any common mistakes, or successful techniques, that photographers make when they are promoting their work?

It is hard to continually come up with a “fresh” way of getting your work in front of Creatives in a way that isn’t trite and that will catch their eye. I find that simply great images are the best way to promote oneself – and no gimmick or cute presentation can make anything less than great be more than that. So many people try to put together a pile of images to show a wide range of abilities – but honestly, a jack of all trades in photography will not get work. A great photograph will stick around on people’s walls and in people’s minds a lot longer than an accordion of images that could have been taken by any photographer. The hard part is finding that perfect image that really grabs a creative’s eye and that isn’t trying to look like every other trendy photographer. And then, of course, having a sick body of work to back that up when people flock to your site.

I think that photographers who have a really clear vision combined with the right edit of their work have the most success. I have found that most photographers are too close to their own work to edit it really well – and it is helpful for them to have someone with a good eye to keep them on the right track with their edits and with their direction.

Any words of wisdom for those just entering the field looking for success as photographers, editors, art buyers or agents?

I think that for any of these jobs in this field, in order to really make it – you have to be a creative at heart. Yes – the business side is very important, but if you don’t have as much of a creative mind as you do a business sense, I’d say stick with a different kind of a business. I also believe that there’s something really viable in the 10,000 hours theory, which basically says that it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at something. I believe this to be true, and people need to be willing to put the time in and pay the dues. It does pay off, and in the end – I find that the tough times in the beginning of my career built my character and my strength. And it made me that much more grateful when things really started coming together.



Deb and her son on a recent trip to New York.



DS Reps has offices in Los Angeles and New York. Learn more and see their talented roster, here

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