Moretti Agency profile
The dawn of photography
Why would an advertising agency want to call a third party when they could, like they used to do, just call the photographer directly?
While it could never be described as a meagre start – representing four of Scotland’s leading commercial photographers, Robbie Smith, David Boni and John Owen – the Moretti Agency has developed in recent months as it has attracted a raft of new and international talent to its portfolio.
Moretti now represents nine photographers – as well as a handful of makeup artists and stylists – having recently added Nicolas Guerin a Paris-based fashion and portrait photographer as well as David Eustace in New York, while photographic partnership Linn and Robert are based in Barcelona.
Following 15 years as a production manager and stylist, Moretti decided to launch her eponymous agency – doing what most photographers hate; selling themselves. And a whole lot more too.
“Initially the Scottish market wasn’t sure of the merits of an agent,” says Moretti. “But over time it’s become more accepted.” And she adds, “photographers don’t often like talking money and rates. They might start doing a deal before they’ve been asked for one... We can be straight with the client, and provide feedback.”
With most advertising agencies no longer employing art buyers, Moretti’s one-stop-shop – offering everything from hair and make-up to set-building – is one that’s become quite accepted.
“It’s a common model now to represent a spectrum of complimentary skill sets. That is what I always intended. I had the experience and wanted to use it. I didn’t ever want to only act as a photographers agent.”
While Moretti is responsible for Scotland’s first photography agency, it is also, in part, responsible for its second too – The Miss Jones Agency
“Catharine [Jones] used to work with me freelance,” recalls Moretti. “She worked with me when I set up. At the time I was also representing Victor Albrow, Richard Mountney and Euan Myles. I used to do a lot of production and styling for them. However, they preferred to have an agent who was just an agent. They could get production services elsewhere. Catherine also wanted a full-time position. I couldn’t offer her that at the time.”
Moretti’s three-strong team – which includes Michelle Methven, Moretti’s “right hand man” – was recently added to with the appointment of Ian Potter. Potter joined from BBC Worldwide. Prior to that he worked as an art director for Getty, where he and Dawn first met. Before that, he himself was a photographer.
Potter’s role is now geared towards the development of the photographers and their portfolios, helping develop the portfolios to become more specific to the market that they are trying to sell to.
“Because of the nature of the industry up here, photographers do a little bit of everything,” he says. “Still-life, landscapes, portrait. They have to, in order to survive. In bigger markets, you have to be more specialised.
“The photographers are also doing a lot more testing now. When they aren’t shooting they are working with models and on location, building their portfolios.”
Not content to be the first photographers agent in Scotland, Moretti has set a second precedent, becoming the first UK agent outwith London to exhibit at the high profile Le Book ‘Connections’.
“We were surrounded by huge names from the business – photographers and agents from New York, London, from France and Germany... For us it was slightly daunting to think that we would be amongst this. Could we fit in? Are we going to look out of place? Is our photography going to be sub-standard? But we always had a confidence that we’d be alright. And, when we got there, it was clear that we did belong,” say Moretti.
“We got some fantastic responses from art buyers and directors from all over the world. The photographic director from Vanity Fair New York was talking to us. We got lots great contacts.
“We had one of the art buyers from Publicis come over to say that she had been impressed. Ian’s going to Paris next week to meet with Nicolas Guerin, so hopefully he’ll be able to meet her too.”
Hollywood’s biggest stars
Guerin’s arrival is an interesting addition to the Moretti tale. “He was looking for a UK agent,” says Potter. “He could have gone with anyone in London, but he chose us.”
Guerin has built an impressive portfolio shooting some of Hollywood’s biggest stars while, closer to home, Colin Prior is another big name to have signed with Moretti, looking to target the advertising industry once again.
With almost daily requests from photographers and artists looking for representation, how does Moretti choose who to represent? “First of all the quality of photography. We have been very careful about who we want to represent. All of the photographers that we have taken onboard, we know,” says Moretti.
“We have to feel comfortable with them. Being an agent is like being married. Nicolas is the first person that we have taken on that we don’t know like that.
“Also, while where you’re based is becoming less and less important, it is good to have in-roads to certain hubs and market places too.”
And it’s not just inroads to new geographical locations that Moretti is making as it continues to add to the range of services it offers, signing well-known Scottish art director Steve Mawhinney [formerly of Faulds, TBWA and Frame], now based in San Francisco.
“The market for creative freelancers is only going to increase. It’s similar to what we’ve seen with the art buying departments over the last few years. They were shaved down before being rid of completely.”
As The Moretti Agency continues to build its reach in Scotland, establishing its name further afield too, its reputation is growing. “A creative director said to me recently, ‘you know, Dawn, I think people are actually starting to get it now.’”
Evidently they are.