Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Talent Agent Causing Problems With Career

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m working with a talent agency, and my agent constantly messes up appointments. He makes a lot of typos and is hard to contact to get clarification. Sometimes his mistakes make me late for auditions, so I want to improve my communication with him. What can I do? -- Agent Problems

DEAR AGENT PROBLEMS: It sounds like you need a new agent. That’s a lot easier said than done, though. If possible, go into the office so that you can have a face-to-face meeting with him, even if you go without an appointment. You need to plead with him to pay more attention to you and your career. Remind him how eager you are to make it in your field and that you need his help to get there. Do not chastise him. Instead, boost his ego by pointing out how important he is in your life. Tell him that you want to be on time -- early, even -- for auditions, but there have been occasions when he has given you misinformation about appointment times or locations, causing you to be late. Ask him what you can do to help support him.

To double-check bookings, continue to write back to him to reconfirm anything he schedules for you. Be pleasant in tone but clear that you need him to respond so that you can be ready to do your part.

If it doesn’t improve, you will need to speak to his manager to see if you can be transferred to another agent who may be more attentive. This could backfire, so get ready to find a different agency if this cannot be amicably resolved.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m thinking about studying photography at the liberal arts college I attend, but I’m worried that the industry is going to have more issues as phone cameras improve. I know that your husband is a photographer, so you must have insight into this industry. Do you think that the photography industry is dying? -- Aspiring Photographer

DEAR ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHER: You are right. My husband has been a working photographer for his entire career. He talks about the changes in the industry, including the fact that “everyone thinks they are a photographer now,” due to the advent of smartphones with higher-quality cameras.

That said, he suggests that if you fine-tune your craft, learn lighting and work hard to define your style, there is a chance for you in this industry. You do have to differentiate yourself from the pack, but that was always true.

Further, for professional images, you need more than something captured on a camera phone. So being trained and then actively pursuing a professional career is wise if your heart is set on this field. Images will always be important in storytelling.

The other side of the industry today is that you have to work very hard at self-promotion. Make yourself known so that you have a chance at earning a living in a crowded field. If this is your heart’s desire, go for it!

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)