If you are nearing the end of your time in photography school or looking for another job, you need to plan your job search. There are many resources available, so you must decide which are best for you and make those your highest priority. If you are looking for magazine freelance work or hoping to find wedding photography jobs, you must go where those clients are.
For example, for magazine work, check the magazines’ websites. They may have an editorial calendar listed that gives you an idea of what photographs they are likely to buy. You can also see if they tend to run the same type of articles at the same time of the year and try to sell photographs that meet those needs.
Internet resources can be a great place to start when looking for photography jobs. Posting an online portfolio or several photographs organized by type can raise your visibility to anyone planning to hire a photographer.
Many photography-related websites have an area for photographers to post their work and their availability. They also may have listings for job openings, so use these sites to the maximum. The job postings on these sites can give you an idea of where the jobs are and what types of jobs are available.
If you belong to a photography association, it may also have job boards and places to post a few photographs from your portfolio. You might be able to list yourself as available for jobs in certain specialties. Some sites will allow you to post a few photographs or a link to your own website.
Your photography school may have a website showing student photographs and this could lead to a job opportunity for you.
Don’t forget to try the major job boards, such as Monster, CareerBuilder, and Simply Hired. They may have photography jobs that you can apply for or give you a chance to list your services as a photographer. If you plan to be a photojournalist or sports photographer, check out journalism job boards.
Another online source is stock photo agencies. You need to find out what process is involved to get your photographs on these sites. But once youare listed, you can sell your photos and receive a portion of the fees.
When you are searching for a job, you must use every resource available. If you are a student at a college or university, the school placement office is a valuable resource. It will help you with a resume and portfolio, provide listings of jobs, and even coach you on your interview skills. Sign up for any job-search classes available and don’t wait until the last minute. Start your search early, so you can use the placement office’s resources to the maximum.
If you are attending a photography school, it may have many of the same resources as a university. Find out if there is a placement office and what services it has. Make use of all the resources, so you can find a job quickly and begin your career.
Universities and photography schools may have job fairs with prospective employers coming to meet and interview students. Change your schedule to make time for these events. Check which employers will be there and plan for which ones you would like to talk to. Have copies of your resume and your portfolio available. Dress in interview clothes and be prepared in case on-site interviews are given.
When thinking of school resources for finding a job, don’t overlook your professors or instructors. Many of them keep in touch with former students and they can guide you to them or to the same companies. Also, they are up to date with the profession and have insight into where to look for jobs. Ask if they know of openings that you could investigate.
Your photography school or university is worth more to you than as just a place to take classes. It has services that can set you on the path to a career in photography.
Contact Well-Known Employers Directly
You may already have an idea of a company where you would like to work, or you may come across one while searching for a job. It is worth your time to investigate the company and contact it about job openings. Even if it doesn’t have job openings posted, it may in the near future and your polite contact may gain you a call for an interview.
Your first contact in a well-known company should usually be the human resources department. They may just ask for a resume or have you to fill out an application. Be courteous, even if they seem to be dismissing you. Ask if they have openings or expect to have any in the future. Send a note to thank them for talking to you. This alone will set you above the majority of job seekers.
Another good entrance to a company can be through the photographers that are already employed. Research them and see if you can make contact. Someone in your photography school or university may know an employee, or a family member or friend might have contacts there. If you don’t have a specific name, search the company’s website or printed and online material for photographer names. Send a short email mentioning that you admire their work and would like to start a photography career yourself. You don’t have to ask for a job right off and don’t overdo the admiration. Tell them what you like about your work and ask if you can contact them for advice on starting your career. You might make a real connection that will lead you to a new job in photography.
Looking for a photography job can take a lot of time and work. As you near the end of your photography school courses, start a job search. You might need to consider getting specialized job-search help. In conjunction with the other job-search techniques, such as using the school placement office, Internet searches, and contacting companies, you could use other services in your community.
Many job seekers these days use recruiters, or headhunters, to help in a job search. You give your resume and job goals to people who already have contacts with companies. They ask their contacts about jobs and search for the right place for you. Usually, the company pays the recruiter’s fees. The biggest advantage to you is that the companies know they can use the recruiter’s approval as assurance that you would make the first cut in the job process. A recruiter can also help you improve your resume or portfolio and coach you through interview practice. You can find photography recruiters by doing an online search.
Temporary employment agencies may be another path to a job. Call any in your area or in the area where you wish to work to see if they have temporary photography jobs available. Advertising agencies and newspapers occasionally have a need for additional staff and they will contact temporary employment agencies. Working as a “temp” can put you in a good position for a job once the employer sees and approves your work and attitude.
You don’t have to carry out your job search alone. Use recruiters and temp agencies to spread the work around and you’ll find a job in no time.
When you are looking for a photography job or considering starting your own business, you must reach outside your circle of friends and the instructors at the photography school. Go into the community for a chance to meet someone who can help you start your photography career.
When you are choosing places and events to network and socialize with people, consider the type of photography that you want to pursue. For example, if you plan to be a wedding photographer, check out any wedding fairs in your town. If a table at the event is too expensive, maybe you can share the space with another student from your school. Both of you will gain valuable exposure and contacts from the event.
If you are considering photojournalism or sports photography or want to work in commercial or industrial photography, try to attend business affairs, such as Chamber of Commerce luncheons or meetings of the local service clubs. You will meet businesspeople from a variety of companies. Tell them about your job search. They may know of job openings in the field you’re interested in or know a person you can contact.
If you plan to start your own photography business in portraits, get a space to advertise your services at any community events. Many communities have special occasions, like Founders Day or a town picnic, with booths and tables to advertise businesses. Have your portfolio and a stack of business cards ready. You might even offer a coupon or giveaway of your photographic services.
If your community has a website that lists businesses, sign up for that. You might also offer coupons or giveaways here. You can even try the low-tech method of posting flyers on bulletin boards at grocery stores. Be sure to have a piece to tear off so the person will have your contact information. Also, pass out business cards every chance you get to anyone you meet.
Working as an intern can give you job opportunities that others won’t have. If possible, get an internship with a professional photographer during your photography school term. Check with the instructors or the school placement office to see if internships are available. The internship may be unpaid, but you can gain valuable experience and a chance to move into a permanent job once you finish school.
If you are already out of school and looking for a job, you can offer to work as an unpaid intern for a set time—say, six weeks. That would give the employer a chance to see your work habits and creativity, and it allows you to try out the employer.
When you are working as an intern, do your best work. Don’t go outside the directions that are given you for a photography project, but also don’t be shy about offering your creative ideas. Try to be the best employee, so you can prove your worth.
Even if a job is not available at the end of your internship, ask the employer for a reference. Having a letter from an employer familiar with your photography work gives you a head start on finding and getting a job somewhere else.
In the Meantime
Even while looking for a job, don’t stop developing your photography skills. Continue to learn just as if you were still in photography school. Take advanced classes if you can. Many schools offer continuing education courses that last just a weekend or for a few days. Adding these to your resume enhances your qualifications. Look for courses that are directly related to the type of photography that you want to do.
If your resume is not getting you to the interview stage, change your resume. If you are not getting any good feedback, you might consider hiring someone else to polish your resume. Many times, it only needs to be strengthened, and a person experienced in resume writing can provide that service.
Also, continue to work on your portfolio. If you have only a few photographs in a certain type of photography, seek out opportunities to expand your portfolio. The more samples you have, the better selection available for any type of job. This time can also give you a chance to try out photography techniques that you haven’t had a chance to work on before.
During your wait for a permanent job, consider looking for freelance jobs. Advertise yourself on your website or send samples out to magazines, advertising agencies, and newspapers. Sometimes permanent work can evolve out of freelance assignments.
Many communities have wedding fairs in late winter or early spring. Having a table at one of those fairs can be expensive, but it is a great way to get your name out as a prospective wedding photographer. Have business cards available to pass out and a wedding portfolio ready for possible customers to see.
For full-time jobs, you should use every possible resource. Check companies that you would like to work for, post a resume and portfolio on online job sites, and talk to your school placement office.