I am an avid photo enthusiast who enjoys photography, but I have never been paid to take a photograph. However, I have been in charge of hiring photographers (and re-hiring them) for the last 8 years. I work as a marketing executive on the Las Vegas Strip at a resort & casino.
I (and my team) hire photographers for a variety of different needs.
- A new signature dish at a restaurant needs a publicity shot – no problem, I know someone great at food shots.
- A hotel room has been remodeled and the website needs an updated shot – I know a great architectural shooter.
- Sold out crowd of 12,000 and a Grammy winning band is rocking the house, going to need some shots for the Facebook page – I know someone.
- A brand campaign needs big production shots – no problem, my agency will hire them!
As both an enthusiast and a person who hires the pros, I would like to tell you some things that get you hired and re-hired as a professional. Most of these would fall into the “that’s common sense, seems too easy” category, and if you thought that as well, you’re already a step ahead of the pack.
Most photographers I have hired are consummate professionals, all the way. However, there have been a few who I can sit back and laugh at now as I think about some of the interactions I’ve had. I’ll never forget the time a pro showed up for a food shoot (someone we hire a lot) as he looked at me with puppy dog eyes and said, “Do you, eh, have a spare CF card anywhere? I forgot mine.”
When I’m hiring photographers, I look for people who conduct themselves like professionals.
True story, and this is someone we do a lot of work with and still hire a lot. Why? Because I like him and he has gotten to know my team.
Or the time a new animal was placed into one of our attractions; a Komodo Dragon, and the dragon was featured in a brand campaign shot. During one of the pre-production calls the photographer asked, “So, can you just put him on a leash and bring him to the location?” I wanted to say, “No problem, we play fetch with him all day so we’ll just give him a Scooby snack, slip the leash on, and bring him on over.”
One bite from him and you could die! The deadliest lizard in the world and you just asked if we could leash him up like a Golden Retriever? Seriously?
Do a little research before the day of your shot; Google is your friend.
That said, here are some tips on how to get hired and more importantly in my opinion re-hired as a pro.
Tip 1 – Submit your estimate on time and review it before you hit the send button.
You have been asked for an estimate to do a shoot. Ask when the estimate is needed and don’t be afraid to ask what the budget is. I may have hired you for $1,500 the last time, but the budget this time is higher or lower so you’ll want to know that going into it. Be prompt about getting your estimate back to the client.
Don’t send an estimate Friday for a job that wrapped on the preceding Thursday, too late at that point. Check all the line items, check the math, and check it again. Did you provide what was asked for? Be sure, and then hit send.
Tip 2 – Be on time. In fact, be early.
Congrats, you got the gig. It is the day of the shoot. In my line of work, a lot of shoots happen in the wee hours of the morning when it tends to be less busy. I know you don’t normally wake up at 3am and neither do I, but when you get a gig that starts at 3 am, be there early and be happy. Don’t be grumpy because it is 3 am and you are not in bed dreaming of that 400mm lens you always wanted. Be early, be happy, and be as accommodating as you can for 3am.
Tip 3 – Get the client the images.
When the shoot is done, get me my images! I can appreciate the amount of time in post processing (whether you do it yourself or have a retoucher) that is required to make an image perfect. When your client asks you when they can have their images, be honest about how long it will take you to get them the images. Be reasonable too. If you were just hired to get some images of revelers at St. Patrick’s Day Event, December is not an acceptable answer.
You got the job the first time. The hardest part is behind you. Now what … ?
You have been hired, we loved your images, and the late night of shooting to get them is behind us. Now what? Why do I re-hire some photographers and not others? I tend to hire people who are easy to be around and don’t have a bad-itude (a made up word a co-worker uses frequently).
Tip 1 – Get to know the people hiring you.
This would seem too easy, the low hanging fruit if you will, but get to know the people who hire you. Do they have pictures of kids on their desk? Ask them about their kids. Do they have an office full of football autograph memorabilia? Ask them about football. If you are not social, get business partner who is and bring them with you.
Our agency hired a photographer for a shoot where we built up our image library. We worked through the long nights and he was always so polite and nice to be around. When the shoot was done, the next week he sent a nice, thoughtful gift to every member of my team. Not something he got at the airport gift store, but something he knew we would like because he spent the time talking with us during the shoot and lighting set up to learn who we are. Think that went a long way? You bet it did, and the images were wonderful.
It was not necessary though, as he had us at ‘polite and nice to be around’.
Tip 2 – Say Thank You.
I wish we could go back in time and freeze the economy to 2006 levels when the money was flowing in and flowing out; but that is not happening any time soon.
Remember … there are a lot of people who do what you do and they could be hired just as easily as you. So when you get a job, show your appreciation by simply saying, “Thank you” – 2 words that when used together, and sincerely, go a long, very long way.
Tip 3 – Keep in touch.
It is easy for me to look at a shooters newest stuff, because I am into photography. I know my team likes to look at the newest portfolio additions too and I don’t think they are unique in that way. A lot of your clients want to see your newest work, so make time to stop by and review it with them. While you are there, ask them about the kids in the photo frames and how their favorite team is doing on the grid iron.
You never know if that visit may lead to the next gig!