Stockland Martel, one of the photo industry’s premier talent-representation agencies for more than 30 years, closes its doors

Stockland Martel, the New York City–based photographer repping agency founded in 1983 by Bill Stockland and Maureen Martel, announced on January 1, 2018, that it was ending its 34-year run.

“After more than three successful, exhilarating, and memorable decades as Stockland Martel, we both decided to retire and begin a new chapter in our lives. We are looking forward to enjoying life at a slower pace, exploring new interests, and spending more time with family and friends,” explained Stockland and Martel in the company’s official statement posted at stocklandmartel.com.

The agency’s business model was to appeal to a broad range of clients in order to weather the industry’s inevitable highs and lows. At any given time, Stockland Martel represented upward of 25 commercial photographers who together covered all genres, from celebrity and entertainment to lifestyle, automotive, food, still life, sports, and fashion.

When the agency closed on December 31, 2017, its final roster comprised some of the best-known and most prolific names in commercial photography, including Nadav Kander, Art Streiber, Nino Muñoz, Michael Muller, and Miller Mobley. Preeminent documentary and portrait photographers Lauren Greenfield and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, as well as legendary sports photographer Walter Iooss and iconic Hollywood portrait photographer and director Matthew Rolston, were among the agency’s marquee names.

“We have been honored to represent some of the most talented photographers in the industry and are grateful for the trust they invested in us,” said Bill and Maureen in their statement.

Known for being highly selective in choosing whom to add to their roster, Bill and Maureen made a practice of sourcing new talent strictly through recommendations, and even then each prospective new photographer was rigorously interviewed and their colleagues in the industry consulted with. Beyond photographic talent, a solid reputation in the industry, and work that possessed a clear application to the market, would-be Stockland Martel photographers were also assessed for their business acumen.

“Think of all the assets that are moving: the estimating, the presentations that have to be done. You have to be very nimble,” Maureen noted in a 2010 interview with Resolve blog. “Or if you’re not nimble, you have to have people around you who are. So we’re not only looking for a great photographer—we’re looking for everything around that great photographer.”

In addition to a diverse roster and a team of sales reps with deep connections to art buyers, photo editors, and producers, Stockland Martel was also known for its forward-thinking marketing mix. In 2005, the agency began producing limited-edition photo annuals to showcase its photographers’ finest new work. Branded as SMart Books, these publications were produced by a high-end printer in Germany and changed in theme and design each year. In 2013, well before selfies were the new normal, each photographer conceptualized and shot a self-portrait to accompany their images. In 2011, the concept was “SMart Words,” with each photographer’s style and skill summarized in three to seven words. The final SMart Book, distributed in January 2017, reflected the fast-paced image-driven culture of our times by placing its bets entirely on the photographs, which were printed one to a page, with 10 pages devoted to each photographer.

In 2009, when brands were just beginning to explore blogging as a marketing tool, Stockland Martel launched a blog whose mission was to promote the photographers’ new work, awards, interviews, behind-the-scenes material, and events, while also raising the profile of the agency itself. Updated every weekday, the blog ultimately created thousands of posts that were then shared on social media and used as sales tools by the reps, and populated the Internet with content that made each photographer that much more searchable.

With the closing of the agency, the founders are saying goodbye not just to a business that they built from the ground up but also to staff members who have been with them virtually since the beginning. From accounting to sales, marketing, and digital assets, the employees of Stockland Martel have on average been with the company for 20 years. The same is true of the photographers. Stockland Martel has represented Walter Iooss for 34 years and Nadav Kander for 30.

“Together, we built a business that we will forever be proud of, one that endured and thrived despite the many ways in which commercial photography has evolved since we began in 1983,” said Bill and Maureen. “The agency has been the center of our lives for so long, and we have made so many wonderful friends along the way. We thank all of our colleagues for their collaboration and support over the years, and we wish them all continued success.”

 

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