Common Image photography unit launched by Common People

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Global production company Common People has launched Common Image, a brand new photo division representing a diverse collective of contemporary image makers.

As an artist management agency,  Common Image will offer tailored strategy and management, with an emphasis on nurturing emerging talent spanning across documentary, lifestyle, fashion and still-life photography, helping them establish their presence in the commercial space.

Common Image

The new division will be based in London and sit equally alongside Common People Films, utilising its in-house production capabilities as well as its extensive external network to facilitate any production needs related to photography commissions.

The division will be led by Head of Photo Tom Burns.

Burns, who joined CMN PPL last November, began his creative career in art production at BBH where he set up the Unsigned platform; a talent network championing diverse, global artists across photography, film and illustration, which has since evolved into Unsigned Union.

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Tom Burns, Common Image

Burns also has experience working on the photo agency side, having held roles at At Trayler and Object & Animal.

For the past two years he has also been a guest lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, where he launched a photography mentorship scheme giving students access to on-set experience.

As Head of Photo, Burns will be responsible for acting as the artists’ agent, and working closely with them in the pitching phase, managing their portfolio of work and setting out a detailed strategy for each artist.

“I particularly love working with underrepresented, and less ‘established’ names, helping them hone in on their creative practice and establish their identity within the photography space,” Burns said.

“For me, it’s not just about the work, but also the personality of the artist. They don’t need to be the finished product – sometimes it’s about working backwards.”

The agency will encourage a more fluid and updated approach to working with photographers, ensuring they feel empowered to collaborate with brands and partners independently if they wish, promoting a more trusting and flexible way of working between agent and photographer.

Common Image launches with nine photographers including Unsigned alumni Christina Poku, Poppy Thorpe and Lou Jasmine, as well as Holly-Marie Cato, Seb Barros, Olivia Richardson, Charlie Birch, Julian Buchan and Ezekiel.

Burns said the plan is to encompass ‘image’ as a wider concept as the brand evolves, going beyond the realms of only representing photographers, particularly in such a multifaceted creative era.

While the majority of its roster is UK-based, Common Image also represents talent in the US and has an off-book roster of artists in places including Amsterdam, Cape Town, New York and Germany.

And whilst Common Image will predominantly act as a modern-day photo agency and consultancy, Burns also hopes to offer art buying services by tapping into this global network of talent.

The agency has already begun working with big brands such as Adidas, Apple, Tanqueray, Belmond and Matches Fashion.

Burns said: “Joining the team at Common People has been so great already. They have fully entrusted me and my vision with Common Image, and I’m excited to not only bring it to life, but work with photographers I have been collaborating with and watching grow in their practice over the years – some since Unsigned – which feels like a very serendipitous moment.”

“With Common Image, I want to create an agency that spotlights talent from all walks of life, spanning different levels of capability and styles.

“Common Image will encompass photography amongst other ways of image making, rolling with the times, and growing with the talent it has onboards.”

Tony Roberts & Ramy Dance, Founders added: “We always envisaged adding a photographer roster to our director roster as we’re a talent-led business but finding the right person to head it up was one of the most important factors.

“Tom has all the attributes we were looking for to work alongside us; passion, a brilliant eye for talent and tonnes of ambition and we’re very happy we’re finally up and running. 2024 is a very exciting year.”