Keep learning and grow with Yossi Michaeli


In this episode of the Fashion Photography Podcast we meet

our new and exciting guest Yossi Michaeli (@yossimic).

He is here and he is ready to tell us more about himself and all the countless agencies that he’s in.
How they build their work relationships and if you need to be in a certain city in order to work with a certain agency?
How to say if an agent is good or bad and how to get out of a bad deal with an agent –
 what are the things you might lose and what you’ll gain from having your own agent.

You can ASK US HERE everything you’d like to know know and we’ll answer in the next episodes!

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Hello, photography lovers!

You’re listening to fashion photography podcast with me the fashion advertising photographer,Virginia. 

In this podcast, we arranging meetings between you and the top creators of our industry.
We’re your matchmakers every Wednesday, and every other Friday.

I’m answering your questions, and I’m giving you some tips and tricks.
We’ve been around for quite a while now. So soon, we’ll be hitting our episode number 300!
So if you’re new to the show, you might want to subscribe to it. And also check out the rest of the episodes.
And by the way, you can also do that here on the website.

But let me tell you more about today’s episode, our new and soon for exciting guests is here.
And he’s ready to sell us more about himself in the countless agencies that he’s in, 
how they build their work relationships, and if you need to be in a certain city in order to work with a certain an agency. 
Another tip that he’s sharing is how to say if an agent is a good or a bad one, and also how to get rid of a bad deal with an agent?
What are the things that you might lose? And what are the things that you can actually gain from having your own agent?
And of course, the very big question is – how to make your work appealing for different markets.
We talk about those things, and also others, but I know that you’re here for the episode.

So if I tell you everything in the intro, it’s going to be weird at the end. So let’s just go straight to the podcast.

Virginia Y
Okay, so tell me more about that. And how did you come up with this decision for you? And what was your first agency and how you decided to sign up with them.

Yossi Michaeli
Like I said, I’m Israeli. In Israel, you know, usually you go to the army. And then after the army, people usually go traveling, and then they come back, and then they go to university.
So in my case, I did everything the same like everybody else. But just I got a little bit carried away, maybe with the traveling. So I did almost two years of traveling.
And then I came back to Israel. But that was after I already been to Brazil. And I really love Brazil. I traveled all around in Asia and South America and the US and the Pacific.
But for some reason Brazil was the place that really touched me that really kind of like got into me that I loved almost everything about it. So I spent there like six months or seven months.

And then I came back to Israel and I went to college university, but I already started to have that bug of like a different life, something more free something more because in Israel, I went to college, it was for computer science, which I wasn’t really so much into. But at the time it was, I think it still is probably there’s a lot of potential to make money and to have a good career.
But it wasn’t everything. It’s not everything. So, so I did a few semesters. And then I took one semester off and I went to Brazil again.

And then when I did, I met some people that helped me at that time, I was already into photography, but I was afraid to take a path which is a little bit more risky, as opposed to you getting your degree in computers. And then you know, you can get a job that pays you well and all of that. So I was a little bit hesitant.
And at the time, I was still thinking about doing photography, more documentary and landscape because I love traveling.
So I was thinking about it. But I wasn’t really I didn’t have the courage. But then I met a good friend of mine in Brazil was she’s actually Belgian, and we became really good friends.
And it turns out that his new girlfriend, which is Brazilian, she was married to a big photographer in Rio at the time.
And he hooked me up to work in Rio de Janeiro to work in his friends, which is another photographer isn’t in the studio.

And of course, I jumped on the opportunity.

I was like – Yeah, I’ll do it! I don’t care! I’ll just I’ll try.

Even though at the time, he was shooting a lot of advertisement and fashion and beauty and stuff like that, which I was really not into at the time.
I wasn’t know that there was an issue, but I was just not aware of I didn’t know what it was, I was just like into, you know, being outside and shooting landscapes and people all the time.
So I liked this opportunity. So I based myself in Rio de Janeiro. And then I worked at this photo studio for about two years, I think.
And that obviously exposed me to studying to shoot models and shooting fashion and beauty and everything. So I started to do it there while I was still doing my own stuff in real, you know,
like in the city and normal people. But when you’re young, and it really appealed to me, like the fashion photography, you know, when you were in Brazil and Rio, and you were young.
And it’s like all everything is like, it wasn’t easy, but it’s just like, it’s exciting. So I’ve done that for like two years.
And then once a year they have in Brazil, it’s kind of like a course I don’t know if it’s still exist, but it exists for like decades, there’s a publisher, which is called them, I believe, which has like l Brazil. And today it’s different because I think they have some financial difficulties and everything. I don’t know what’s going on there.
But they have a lot of magazines like the biggest chain of magazines in Brazil. So once a year, they do kind of like a course and they get around eight photographers or six or something like that, and 20 journalists and like 20 designers and they do that there’s a lot of stages that you need to pass the you need to send your work. And then they call it for an interview today, like you and citizen after your chosen. There’s about I don’t know, 4550 people all around which out of those six to eight photographers, and then it’s like an internship inside that big publisher, the magazine publishers in Brazil, and you learn a lot of stuff and you create your own magazine after that month, it’s one month course, which was amazing. Like it was amazing for everybody.
So I got into this course, obviously, like after two years. That’s why I’m telling you about this. And then I moved to San Paolo, and we did this course for a year.
And a lot of people after the course either they go back to their own cities all around Brazil, but a lot of them get hired by that publisher.
So it’s usually in German and designers that get hired and photographers like me we get freelance work once in a while and stuff like that. But it really opened the door for a lot of things you get to know a lot of people.
So I did that. After the course I stayed in San Paulo for another like six to eight months, something like that. But I just felt that Brazil at that time was kind of like to close to new talent that it was really relying on the big names that were at the time. And so I decided to move to New York, in the beginning guys system and other like year and a half a bunch of people, nobody fixed just like a little bunch of photographers, I just thought that, first of all, I wanted to always do my thing, I never wanted to be full time with anybody not have my own time to create my portfolio and to work on my photography. So it was always freelancing for a lot of bunch of people. And also, I think that when you assist a lot of people, you can learn from each one something, see how each of them behaves with the clients in this style, they shoot and they lie they do and everything. I think you learn a lot from assisting a few people at the time.
Yeah, so that’s what I did for another like year and a half until I got my first big break. And then after that big break stuff just started to happen a little bit more easier.

It was never easy. Still never is easy.

But once you get past that hump, let’s say you know, between being an assistant to shooting your own stuff, it gets a little bit easier, I guess, to keep on doing your own stuff.
And I’ll go back to assisting. But you were asking actually about the agency. So so I was in New York. And I still obviously didn’t have a lot of work that I published or a lot of clients and everything. But my first agency and I’m with it, same agency until this day, and that’s around 12 years, I was actually in Brazil and that’s the agency I’m with today.
It was the first agency that opened in Brazil, because before that there were no agencies, all the photographers in Brazil, maybe they had like a studio manager or somebody that would take care of their billing and the rest. But there wasn’t any agencies. It didn’t exist at the time, it was only like, you know, in Europe and in the US.
So my agent in Brazil, he was actually the first one who did that he used to be an agent in a lot of model agencies, and then you kind of like decided that he wants to do something different. So he opened an agency. So at the beginning, we were a lot of people. He had like a lot of photographers makeup, hair stylist, everything.
I met him through a friend of mine in Brazil, and they liked my work. And then they wanted to sign me so I just as I did, and that’s it ever since I’m with him. That’s I think, like 12 years already.

Virginia Y
Whoa, lots of time!

Yossi Michaeli
Yeah, with him. It’s different. Because with him, it’s already kind of like a friend. You know, I think it’s great when you can get to that stage with your agent, when it’s not only about work well, it’s not only about business, when you know, you can trust Him, of course, and you know, he’s going to do the best for you. And because there’s a lot of stories. Actually, I had that experience in New York, I used to be with an agent that didn’t do enough. And on top of that he didn’t even pay me until this day for like a couple of jobs. I did Oh, yeah, that’s that’s a different department, the legal issue, which is going to get resolved, hopefully in the future with him about this depth. But in general, about agents, I think it’s really, really important to be with somebody that you also trust on a personal level. And not because it’s a big agency or because you want to have an agent, and you think that’s going to make your life so much easier. Which if it’s a good idea, it does make your life easier, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop doing your own marketing, newsletters, meetings, whatever.

Virginia Y
And what are you advise us on how to understand if an agent is good or bad? Are there any signs from the very beginning?

Yossi Michaeli
It’s a lot about also how you judge his character, like, are you a good judge of character or not. But it’s more on a personal level as well, like some people that I think are nice and trustworthy, maybe somebody else wouldn’t think so. It’s really personal on like, one five you get from that person. But of course, I mean, it’s not only that, if you asked before, or people that already represented by this agency, you can talk to them and ask how it is if they’re getting enough work, if the payments come on time, if they feel that they progress in their career or not with this agency, that is something that happens as well, with agencies. In the end of it, I think it’s a trial and error kind of thing. I mean, you can get prepared and ask people or even research about it online sometimes and stuff like that. But in the end, I think if you feel that that agency might work, you just have to try and give it I would say around like six months to one year to understand if it’s moving forward in a good way or not.

Virginia Y
And if not, of course, you can just break this relationship. Of course, it’s always a good reminder to ask other colleagues, I think many people in the industry are forgetting a little bit about that. And they’re like, Oh, my God, how should I get out of this situation? 

Yossi Michaeli
You just simply have to ask other people. I was asked about my agent a few times about my agency, New York, about my agency in Brazil, by my agencies elsewhere in the world by other photographers that sort of odd maybe approaching them and everything. So I was asked about that I asked people about that money. I agree. I mean, I think you know, if you feel that it’s not working, you do have to sign a contract. But that contract read it, I always read everything. Usually those contracts say that both sides have the right to leave after a year maybe or whenever you want, if you just let them know, 30 days before, 60 days before and then it’s just a matter of the clients that you brought, or they brought in who stays with those clients and stuff like that. But I don’t think there’s a point of staying it with an agent that you don’t trust.

Virginia Y
Of course, and what’s the worst thing that can happen? And nothing really, you have to leave one client or two. But if they’re bad agents, it’s all the same.

Yossi Michaeli
Exactly. And those clients as well. I mean, you know, it’s not that you can’t work with them ever again. It’s just you know, usually it’s that period of like, the first year or whatever.

Virginia Y
Yeah, so it’s not that big of a deal. But it’s probably better to try to make sure that you won’t regret it. Yeah. Few years to ask yourself, What if that’s never a good situation? Yeah. But do you have agents in many, many different countries? And also, have you been to all of them?

Yossi Michaeli
 Actually, it’s funny. But in Brazil, of course, because I work a lot in Brazil and go there, like every couple of months, sometimes every month. In the US, of course, I’m based here in Asia, they brought me there. And actually, we did a workshop over there. And then I shall have a sale over there as well. In China, I have a new agent in Chile, which is taking care of all South America as well. So I met both of them that the owners, I met them in Brazil, and I met them again in New York, I’ve been to Chile, but that was before I signed with them, I just I was there for work as well to shoot the Europeans ones. It’s just online and then talking on the phone and stuff like that. But they’re both relatively new. So it’s just a matter of time gets into something comes up there too. And I go there, and I meet them and I do a job there.

Virginia Y
Did you approach them do European ones, it’s very interesting for me, because you’ve never met.

Yossi Michaeli
Yeah, the one I have in Italy, I approach they like my stuff, then we spoke a lot, then they did some changes in their agencies. And the German one is actually I have an agent in Hamburg. And that’s actually a new department of an agent that I have in Argentina. And it’s an agent that works with me in London, and it’s kind of like their production company, and they represent photographers, but they opened a new branch in Germany. And then as soon as they did, the German branch wanted to take me over, because they know they don’t take all the photographers, they choose a few that they think they work with the German market. So the German branch approached me and said that they want to send me in Germany as well. And then we spoke, I sent him my work and stuff like that, that, you know, PDFs and everything that they need to show. And that’s how it worked with those. The rest. I know all of them personally.

Virginia Y
It’s weird nowadays, because I see more and more production agencies becoming also reputation to photographers. And it’s pretty close to the mind, actually. But I’m wondering why this have never been like this before. But anyways, I was wondering, why is your work so appealing to so many different markets? Because, you know, usually certain a market demand something particular?

Yossi Michaeli
I guess it’s a little bit intriguing for me as well, right? Yeah, I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t say why. And I don’t think my work is appealing for everybody. Because I think that I’m sure, but that’s normal. We know that a lot of people can say that my work is maybe to this to that, or you know, not enough, this are not enough that and I don’t know, I think that’s something personal. But I think, you know, those countries, there are going to be clients that like and dislike my work. So I mean, of course, it’s hard for me really to say what it is? I don’t know, I really don’t know. I mean, you know, back in the time, like a few years ago, I saw that maybe I appeal more to the Asian market, because I did a lot of colorful stuff. I don’t know if today’s there but at the time when I was shooting a lot for for Taiwan that they like the colorful, bright images. And in Brazil, it’s different aesthetics as well, like in Brazil, it’s it’s a lot of times like a little bit more. I wouldn’t say always sexy, but I mean, it depends on the campaign on the brand. Today, there’s a lot of super modern, you know, cool brands in Brazil as well. But there’s also always a lot of because of the climate because of the culture over there that you know, it’s a lot of more happy, commercial, warm images. But I don’t know, I mean, I’m kind of like drawn to almost everything. Really, it’s it’s funny, because you know, when I started, I was just shooting fashion only women. And then I got that opportunity to start doing beauty for Vogue Taiwan at the time, and I never really did a lot of beauty before but they gave me an opportunity. So then I started to do that a lot. And I liked it and then I get an opportunity to shoot for GQ. And I never shot men before or bizarre China I don’t know it was one of the two and I never shot men before you I did like in campaigns but not really editorials. But then I started to do that and I liked it. So it’s kind of like in recently, like the past two, three years, it’s been a bit shooting more a lot of like fitness campaigns as well, for feel I shot a few. And now I just did a an editorial collaboration with Puma. So it’s always changing I feel

Virginia Y
Sounds like that. Yeah, yeah. Okay. I know that people that are listening to podcast really want me to ask right now, how do you get the opportunity to shoot beauty for folk type?

Yossi Michaeli
I think today’s totally different. I don’t know what to say about today. Because I think I feel that today the market all around the world in New York, of course, as well. But I feel it’s like it’s super saturated. I feel there’s so many people like great talents as well. But there’s so many people that are doing it. And I feel that when I started it was a little bit different. When I started assisting it was still film, and then it was the transition to digital. So I still had my film face as well. But it’s different because of the internet today. It’s different because of the Instagram and all of those things at the time when I approached Vogue Taiwan, I don’t know if they were approached by so many people as I’m sure they are today or every magazine for that matter. Today, I feel there’s so many photographers in magazines get so many offers. And and I feel that that’s also reflecting by the budgets that we get from magazines, you almost don’t get any budgets. And when I started to do that, you know, when we shot editorials, you know, when I started it was different. We always got it budget wasn’t a big budget, but we always got it budget. And today because it’s a super saturated market and everybody wants to do it. And everybody’s within a lot of people are willing to do it for free. And just to get portfolio. So I think the market is really different. But in the end of it how I got the opportunity is simple. I just emailed them, they like my work. That’s it. And they gave me an opportunity. It was that simple.

Virginia Y
Yeah, it’s very different. I remember when I started, I did the same, I just send all these emails, and I was waiting. So I got the call. But nowadays, it’s very, very different. Even if you’re really good photographer, and you approach it certain a magazine, I think that your mail can even get lost.

Yossi Michaeli 
Of course, magazines don’t open many emails that they get. Yeah. And I’m sure a lot of them do go to spam or whatever. And I’m sure that today it’s different. I feel that sometimes it’s about Instagram too. But it was always like that. It’s about people that you know, as well, like, you know, personal on a personal level as well. But yeah, I agree with you. I think that it’s way more difficult today than it was a few years ago like to get that opportunity. Because honestly, for me, the magazines I started to shoot not all but most of them, were just sending an email showing my work. Either they like it or they don’t and they gave me an opportunity. And that’s how I got to vote. But today, I’m pretty sure it’s it’s a little bit more complicated.

Virginia Y
Usually after those emails, you get to meet the people and start some relationships. So everything is evolving. And now it’s just escalating so quickly. Yeah, you need to people. So do you have any advisers on how to reach people that we need to know if we want to be amazing photographers and be seen by everyone,

Yossi Michaeli 
but maybe it’s just the same kind of thing that we did that I did. I don’t know if years ago just want a bigger level. You know, you keep on doing your marketing your newsletters, keep sending in your work to a lot of people, yes, create your own data bank, let’s say with you know, a lot of contacts of magazines, clients, people that you want to approach and I think it’s always good to send emails and show your work because you know, a lot of people maybe don’t open it, but a lot of people will open it and I’ve got in still up to this day, I’m getting work because of that. But it’s a process that’s time consuming. It’s it can be a little bit frustrating, but I think it’s part of it other another way to get more work is obviously to shoot a lot but you have to work with stylist, you gotta be kind of like close to a few stylist you like because either photographers or stylist are the ones they’re going to get the job. Usually, if I get the job, and there’s few studies that I like working with, I’m always going to call one of those stylist if I have labored from the client or from the magazine. And whenever from magazine, usually we do from clients, it depends. And vice versa, a lot of times magazine status, either they’re like a fashion editor in that magazine, or they’re contributing editor or whatever. So they have the liberty to create their own team as well. And if you’re working with them, they would get you on that as well. And that could work for money job as well. But yeah, it is a different world today. I see people you know, putting stories on Instagram every day. And honestly, I mean, I just even when I have like new stuff coming out, okay, so you put it out. But for me, maybe I’m a little bit from the old generation. But for me, it’s too much like to do every day, just to be noticed on Instagram, like every day something new, even when you don’t have you know, and then people started maybe recycling the work that he posted a few years ago again, and I don’t know,

Virginia Y
you’re right. The effort is so big on Instagram the other day with asked if I have worked because I haven’t post a lot on Instagram like I you know, it’s like, Yeah, I do have a lot of work. That’s why I’m not posting. Exactly read your mind about yourself. Because if you’re just shooting and not posting anything, the people that are not shooting with you today are going to forget you tomorrow. So it’s kind of like a chain. So you need to do this. It’s very complicated for the photographers today. I mean, it’s easier to become a photographer. But it’s not easy to maintain this job. 

Yossi Michaeli
Yeah, I agree with you. And I think a few years ago was all about just having your website. And then you know, when you have meetings, you just go with your portfolio with your printed portfolio and you show it around and that’s it. And today, I think people sometimes maybe they get to your website through your Instagram, like they wouldn’t even know you if it wasn’t for Instagram, or maybe they just look at your Instagram. And that’s it. It’s just a change the way things work. The essence is the same but it’s just new tools or new ways to get there. But yeah, it’s time consuming and an Instagram. I feel it became a little bit too fake, let’s say. But that’s that’s that’s all around social media. Just like people always showing that they having a great time everywhere and they having the best food everywhere. And they’re like in the best locations. And it’s the best. And everybody’s happy all the time. But it’s not the real world. But I guess for work it’s it’s part of it. Yeah,

Virginia Y
I guess so though today I saw a picture that was really relevant to this conversation. And on the picture there was a crying woman and there was a caption saying, I really want to find someone who will love me for who I am on social media. Yeah. Yes, and if you want to see his my guests on social media, check out the links in the show notes. You can also check the fashion photography podcast I G, which is photography underscore podcast. Stay tuned for our next episode on Friday. And of course, subscribe to our podcast, so that you can be the first one to know when we publish our next episode. And the very next one will be this Friday. So come back on Friday, guys, and thank you so much for listening test today.

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