AGENT FOCUS: Wyatt-Clarke & Jones
1 October 2019
We catch up with James Gerrard-Jones Director of Wyatt-Clarke & Jones and find out what makes their agency tick. Talking about how they go about finding unique talent along with advising on the best way to approach getting representation, please read on to find out more and feast your eyes with a truly eclectic mix of imagery.
© Todd Antony, Climbing Cholitas in Bolivia (Cholitas Escaladoras Bolivianas), 2019.
How did the agency come about?
Our agency was founded by John Wyatt-Clarke – he’d been Creative Director of Magnum Photos back in the late 90’s at a point where advertising first seized upon working with genuine documentary photographers to make campaigns feel more relatable. John then set-up on his own agency with photographers Paul Reas, Simon Norfolk and David Moore amongst others. By the time I started working with John in 2003, Wyatt-Clarke was already an established agency with a working philosophy you could really get behind. We led with the very best work and the commissions came in, in many cases having been inspired or influenced by the work we were sharing, always drawing on the individuality of the artists we were representing. Whilst everything else changes, that core philosophy has really stood the test of time.
© Laura Pannack, from the series ‘Separation’, commissioned by the BJP for their feature ‘What does Brexit mean for love?’.
© Andy LoPo
Where do you get your inspiration from and how has that changed over the years since you started?
Because of our heritage in the area we’re spoilt and get to spend time with many talented photographers on their way up, whether it’s via portfolio reviews or mentorship schemes, the AOP, D&AD, Magnum’s Professional Practice events and spending time with students at the country’s best BA & MA photography courses. Mentoring young photographers or helping individuals side-step from another career into a career in professional photography is the number one source of inspiration for all of us at the agency. That support is on-going of course, for the more established people we’re representing we draw inspiration from the personal projects they can produce supported by the money commercial work can offer them. Whether it’s the next book project, fine art project or funding a documentary feature, we can feel a direct connection with the work being made via the commercial projects we connect them to that go to funding them.
© Adam Hinton, Prince’s Trust.
© Sophie Ebrard, from the project ‘I didn’t want to be a Mum’.
Tell us about the photographers you represent. How did you go about getting the right mix?
We’re ultimately looking for unique talent, this helps when it comes to maintaining balance within the group. The idea being all the work has such distinctive identity it can find its own place or hold its own amongst such strong company. In the same way we’ve never gone out to represent photographers who shoot a commercial ‘style’ of work – we’ve also never looked to take on people to check a box for the agency, whether that be cars, food, landscape or whatever else – instead we’re looking for the right person and/or work that both we and the people we work with can really get behind. You can’t control the order or timing of meeting these people, so maintaining the balance is much more organic than engineered.
© Andy Glass, Barclays.
© Jason Hindley, Cannes Lions Gold winning work for Marmite, 2019.
Many of your photographers also shoot motion, is this a common request from clients?
Yes, a very common request. It might be a still image with a tiny element of motion - a blink or something moving in the breeze - anything from that to a full-blown TV commercial or music video. Motion has been a huge thing for our artists over the last ten years with some of them now established directors. It’s been amazing to see the ways the photographers have taken this on and found their own voice in the area, at its most successful you can feel a strong sense of identity behind the work, just as with stills.
Interestingly photographers often approach projects with smaller crews having to come up with creative solutions to problems that might otherwise have to be solved with a TV commercial-sized budget, but what ends up on screen can often be far more distinctive for these constraints. It’s an exciting area, you really feel anything is possible, all those stories to be told that can now be brought to life in another way. Not to mention the generation of young directors coming through who have grown up with a video camera on their phone from the age of seven, I can’t wait to see how things continue to change.
© David Harriman, from the project ‘La Línea’.
© Cian Oba-Smith, from the project ‘Concrete Horsemen’.
What advice do you have for photographers looking for representation?
There are no rules to this really – thinking how we’ve come about our own photographers, no two have been the same story, for some it has happened sooner and for others we’d been in touch for many years before the time felt right. I’d really encourage photographers to get out there with their work and build a network, it’s never too early to start doing that and I can think of several of our own photographers we first met when they were still at University. Don’t be disheartened if things don’t happen straight away either – think long term and focus on the work you are making. There’s so much of what we do as agents that you could and should be doing for yourself as a photographer anyway. If you do get signed by an agency it’s important you carry on doing that networking when you can, so all good skills to develop.
© Julia Fullerton-Batten, Ophelia after Millais, 2018, from the project ‘Old Father Thames’
© Jenny Van Sommers
What’s next for your agency?
I feel like the one constant in both advertising and photography is change, that’s what makes it an exciting and interesting area to be working in. The course we take as an agency is part of a living process, it’s all based on conversations we’re having every single day, responding and evolving all the while. Same goes for working with artists – they need to feel free to evolve and reinvent themselves, not sit in boxes to fulfil ‘master-plans’, keeping their love for the medium alive is what’s important. This is a big part of what keeps the work of our photographers relevant and full of life. We really love being part of that.
© Samuel Hicks, from the project ‘Las Luminarias’.
You can find more information on Wyatt-Clarke & Jones here