This would really depend on who your client would be. If your client is a company that has established policies and procedures. Then they may also involve someone from human resources. Then something more formal might be needed and it would really depend on what they’re asking from the candidates. E.g cover letter, resume and portfolio of photos.
Alternatively if your client is an individual or a small business, they are more likely to be flexible and all they really want to see are you photos. Then potentially showing them your work that’s online or even in a printed book will certainly get the job done and a resume in a tradition sense won’t be needed.
I’ve been in both situations we’ve had to come in for a one on one interview bringing along 20 of my best images and a brief history of all the places I’ve worked at, including any photography education i may of done.
On the flip side, there have been jobs were all I needed to do was send an simple email, linking to my online portfolio to secure the job.
Finding a job as a photographer is not as straightforward, as say an office job. Most office jobs you would go through the traditional route of going of a job website. You would then fill out the application form and submit your resume. If you pass the first round of cuts, you would then come in for an interview.
Since photography is such a visual medium, a portfolio of your work is more than enough for a lot of clients, than say a list of your past employment or education listed on a piece of paper.
Your portfolio needs to show you can be creative and take a technically correct photo. For most employers that is important to them making a choice if you’re the right person for the job
Table of Contents
Printed Portfolio vs Online Portfolio
A printed portfolio was one of the major ways photographers use to get work when only film cameras were around.
The idea of a printed portfolio is to show your best work when you came in for an interview.
Imagine a large padded book with sleeves. On the inside, one photo to a page with about 20 – 50 photos in total.
As an example, If the job you were going for was as a portrait photographer. Your book would only have portrait work in it. Very really would you mix different genres of photography, perhaps only when it made sense.
The few jobs that I did have to go in for a one on one interview. My printed portfolio was in a leather bound book , with 15 sleeves that had a black cardboard inserts.
I would simple attach the printed photos on to the cardboard using glue dots, giving me a total of thirty photos to show off.
I would only show some of my personal work if it would help me in getting the job. It was easy enough to do by adding extra sleeves at the end of the book to showcase what i was working on.
Now days using a service such as Blurb to make your photo books, makes that whole process easier as you can many smaller books of different genres for very little cost.
|Print Portfolio Pros|
|Showing off printed photos of your work is still the best way to impress prospective clients. They get to see your work up close, it also gives them a very good idea as to what the end results can look like.|
|Print Portfolio Cons|
|The downside of printed portfolios is that it can become quite costly printing and updating. Depending how much you photograph, It can also be a very time consuming process if you are constantly updating your work.|
Online Portfolio Website
Once the internet became popular a lot of photographers started creating portfolio websites. In very much the same style as if it was a printed portfolio.
You would put your best photos up on the website to show to prospective clients. If you had a lot of photos or even different styles or genres of photography. A simple solution would be to split up your photos into different categories or sections.
It was then a matter of simply linking directly to these categories or sections to show off your work to prospective employers.
|Online Portfolio Website Pros|
|The speed at which you can update your online portfolio is a huge bonus. The cost is also considerably a lot cheaper compared to printing off photos and creating a book.|
|Online Portfolio Website Cons|
|The device that prospective clients view your online portfolio on , can have a big effect as to how your photos look, colours may be shown incorrectly. Also clarity of the photos can be an issue if you are trying to hit a balance of a fast website and big clear photos. The larger the photos, the slower the load time of your photos. This can give a bad experience for your prospective clients.|
Other ways to get a photography job
Social media in some cases has replaced the traditional resume and even personal online portfolio. Instagram and Facebook are offering photographers a way of getting more exposure for the work by simply having a large following or even using the right hashtags to get noticed.
Think how easy it is for a prospective client to follow you even just to look at your feed and see the type of photos that you’re posting and that will give them an excellent idea as to the type of work you’re able to produce.
This is why a lot of photographers have accounts on Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest to give their clients and other way for them to view their work.
Where a website will only get updated when you get the chance. Your social media account on the other hand can get updated a lot faster.
Is social media the new resume or online portfolio for photographers?
Referral from other photographers or clients
Sometimes a portfolio is not always necessary to get new clients. Referral from existing clients is one of the best ways of finding new work.
I am extremely grateful for all the referrals I’ve received over the years. It means that the amount of effort I need to put in to get a new client is greatly reduced.
In some cases, they haven’t looked at my photography, which I find absolutely mind boggling. There is something to be said about getting a referral from someone that the person knows and trusts.
In some cases it was an opportunity to work with a company that wasn’t even advertising for a photographer. Which lead to other people within the company using me. This meant I didn’t have to go through the whole process of an interview and trying to prove myself.
My referrals simply did all the work for me.
In those situations when you do get a referral. Always be ready so you don’t miss out on the opportunity.
Your website and any of your printed work need to be up to date and ready to show off if they ever ask for it.
Trial period or Probation
Sometimes your portfolio or resume won’t be enough to get to the job. You may be required to do a trial for a short period of time to see if your can do the job.
It might be for a couple of days or you might be hired for an event, and based on your performance, they will decide if you will be a photographer for any on going photograph work they may have.
It’s a way for the employer to see how will you work part of the team and can you produce the work that you’ve shown them.
Personal skills & How you present yourself
I want to finish off on the topic of personal skills and how you present yourself to your clients.
We talked about photography resumes and portfolios and other ways on how we can get clients.
But probably what is almost as important is the way that you present yourself to your prospective clients and the personal skills such as communicating with your clients.
If you want a career in photography let me be the person to tell you that it’s not just about pressing a shutter button or making sure you have the right equipment for the job.
Believe it or not that sometimes it is the relationship that you have with your clients that will determine if you get the job or even keep the job.
Digital photography has changed the way how a photographer is perceived as a career. It seems as if the camera manufacturers are against professional photographers. They make it incredibly easy for anybody that has a simple grasp on exposure to take a good photo and as a result it has in some cases cheapen in the value of photography.
So, if you want a career in photography you need to brush up on your personal skills and the way that you present yourself to clients.
Communication skills are essential. You need to be able to hold a conversation and also give clear concise directions to your subjects.
Asking open ended questions to find a common topic your can both relate to is an excellent skill to have.
As superficial as it might sound, but the way you dress affects employment. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but people do, first impressions count. My rule of thumb is dress for the job. If it’s in a relaxed casual settings, smart casual will do. Corporate you might want to match your clothes to that environment.
Lastly, Being able to working as part of a team and being flexible will work in your favour. Helping each other to reach a common goal, however small the job might be even if it’s not directly related to taking photos.
In one of my jobs it was common to lift big heavy seating for group photos. This had to be done for every session, so attending to that task without being asked to do it was a must.
Be helpful to everyone, you never know were your next referral will come from.