Finding work can be daunting when you are first starting out. We have some tips & tricks to help from CV writing to industry specific networking events, you can even check out the other courses to pool ideas.
Photography is a highly competitive business, requiring good networking skills. So, the key is to start building your contacts early on so you are well-connected by the time you graduate.
Assisting established professionals is a great way of gaining more experience so most photographers start out as studio assistants or assistant photographers. Assisting can either be an initial step to gain experience or it can become a rewarding career in itself. Hours are long and pay can be very low so to make it worthwhile always try to assist people that you really admire.
Photographers and assistants spend so much time together so recruitment decisions are based as much on personality as they are skills. Try to meet photographers face-to-face at events, if you can. The Association of Photographers hold regular career talks that can introduce you to some great contacts.
If you are making your initial contact by phone, do bear in mind that the person who answers the phone is probably the current assistant so they may not be that keen to pass on your message. Be persistent and speak directly to the photographer.
Asking for assisting work straight away can be too direct. Instead, try asking if you can come and visit, offer to help out on their personal work or to come as a second assistant on a job. It's all about gently finding the right opportunity to get a foot in the door.
Photographer Laura Pannak at a Ravensbourne Late spoke of three expectations for a successful assistant that are worth bearing in mind when approaching photographers.
- Be fully prepared – A bag full of hair clips, pens, door-stops, gaffer tape a spare memory card or even something to drink on hot days; might all be needed on a shoot. It's the thinking ahead that makes all the difference.
- Be good company- You’ll spend lots of time with the photographer.
- Team work - Be someone who genuinely enjoys working with others.
The Association of Photographers offers an 'Assistants Search' to help link photographers with assistants. They provide an excellent range of resources to help you get established and student membership starts from £10 per year.
Find contact details of other employers on their company websites. A good place to start is with photographers or companies that know Ravensbourne students.
Read trade publications such as British Journal of Photography and Pixel Magazine. As well as advertising jobs, these magazines have lots of useful information about industry trends, awards, competitions and other resources.
Getting your work published
Selling your existing work or being commissioned by a magazine should be high on your list of priorities. It can really accelerate your career.
Editors and art directors like working with the latest fresh new talent as well so don't be frightened to approach them. Starting out, it is not that important what magazine or newspaper print your work. The important thing is to get yourself published even if you are only paid a minimal sum or perhaps not paid at all. It gives your portfolio a real boost. Research carefully what type of photograph individual magazines like, then make an appointment to see the editor or the art director and make your pitch.
Some photographers find agents who should help you to sell your work and advise you on business aspects . A good agent will go with you when you make a pitch and provide you with support. They take a fee for selling your work but do try to get work with that is 'commission only' as they have more incentive to work harder than those on a retainer.
Entering competitions is also very effective at raising your profile, especially if you win or are short-listed. Whatever the outcome of the competition, you will have created new work and getting exposure to those judging the competition.
Few entry level jobs are advertised but it is always worth looking in the local press, Media Guardian, and in special interest magazines and websites.