1. Find Photography Apprenticeships
Photography and imagery have never been in more demand across both the private and public sector than in today's market yet many freelance photographers are struggling to find apprenticeships and land paid jobs.
Why is that?
Many new photographers are either self-taught, learn how to use their camera via a short course or study their technique at a private institution or university. What all of these approaches have in common is they don't teach new photographers how to act on set, develop a brand, plan a marketing strategy or source new clients. Admittedly, universities are recognising the lack of business know-how and improving this side of their course but for those who take the latter approaches, it's a steep learning curve.
In addition to a lack of business knowledge, we have seen huge advances in technology making it even easier to produce high-quality images thus eliminating the need for professional photographers in a number of areas. The rise of the amateur photographer has also pushed low-level jobs out of the market and the influx of new photographers off the back of the recession has created a highly competitive sector. The result of these changes is that landing paid photography jobs or an apprenticeship is harder than ever.
On The Freelancer Club jobs board, we post a lot of paid freelancer photographer jobs in a variety of sectors. We also publish photography apprenticeships when they become available. However, the drop in photography apprenticeships over the last few years has been noticeable. More new photographers are having to offer their services for nothing in return for experience - something we are very much against. Why? Because the rise of unpaid work has seen a sharp reduction in the value of the photographer. This means that there are fewer photographers who are able to offer apprenticeships as they can barely afford to support themselves.
In the positive column, we're also seeing some surprising markets open up that most photographers are not tapping into. Some of the more well-known markets include the wedding industry, corporate events, portraits, private parties and celebrations while the less obvious sectors include photographing bloggers / stylists, online boutiques, profile portraits and content creation for small to medium-sized businesses. Although many companies are utilising in-house talent for low-level photography requirements as well as tapping into stock photography sites, there is still plenty of work for photographers to get their teeth into. The trick is know how to land it.
Should you feel you are in a position to apply for photography work now, click below and start applying for paid photographer jobs. However, if you'd like more advice on the process, tips on approach and techniques for improving our chances of getting the job, read on.
2. Which type of photographer are you?
A photography apprenticeship can be an invaluable experience. Not only are you improving your camera skills but you are learning skills that are arguably more important to today's modern client.
The value of a photo is zero. Clients want a photographer who can bring creative imagination, professionalism, collaborative skills and their own style to a campaign. - James Tiney, Photographer
Photographers come in all different shapes and sizes so before we look at the approach, let's do a bit of housekeeping. It's time to look in the mirror and ask some tough questions.
Soul searching is just another name for brand identity. What does your brand say? What message is it giving out to those who don't know you? The easiest way to answer this question is to get an unbiased option ideally someone in a position to hire you. Asking your mum what she thinks of your site probably won't provide the insight you require. The dream guinea-pig is a potential client which is very hard to find and observe however a great experiment that should get you closer is to have a friend or colleague who knows nothing of our services to click on your site or look at your portfolio and simply observe their actions. Don't lead them in any way or offer any clues as to what to say - remember you're looking for brutal honesty. The objective is to see if an independent observer sees the brand you imagine in your head.
Another technique is to think about your last 10 clients. Were they all in the sector your brand is in? Perhaps you have a fashion photography business with stunning editorial images adorned across your website and credits in high-end fashion magazines but 8 of your last 10 clients were brides. If so, it might be time to asks some questions.
Brand is all important for clients as we, as consumers, like to know we're getting what we ordered. A bride might be put off by a photography website if it also had galleries in erotic art or landscape. She might be impressed if there was a fashion section and thought you could make her look like that on her wedding day! Whatever impression the bride has was made by your site and her opinion. A strong brand should have minimal distance between those two worlds.
3. Your portfolio. Your brand.
A portfolio is a body of work typically produced through a specific medium. The number of images in a portfolio depends on the sector you specialise in however as a rule of thumb should not contain so little that it doesn't provide the viewer with an idea of your style, professionalism and experience whilst not too much that they needs to put the kettle on to get through it all.
The main function of a portfolio is to present your work to prospective clients or to generate opportunities. Prior to showing your portfolio, it's vital to understand what the portfolio is for. You may require a portfolio for an interview or to land a one-off job. A gallery may require a portfolio to ascertain whether to accept your work.
Your online portfolio (we'll look into this in more detail below) is generally an ever-evolving collection of work that you'll constantly be updating. If presented well, the viewer should be able to easily navigate through your work to see what it is they require. When presenting your work via email or in person, your choices are vital. Each presentation will be different and your choice of images to include or extract will often determine whether you land the job or not.
Choosing Your Shots
One of the most difficult aspects of compiling a portfolio is choosing the images to include and leave out. You'll most probably have a personal connection to the work which makes it tough to be impartial but it's important that you are ruthless in these moments.
Open with an image that defines you as a photographer and ideally one that makes an impact. After all, we want the viewer to keep inspecting your work and in cases when there are 200 portfolios to get through, the first image can often be your last if the quality is not up to scratch. Take the viewer on a journey through your work trying to keep some level of continuity running throughout. 10 to 12 images would be considered enough in each area you're presenting. Fashion can be a little different particularly if it's editorial work you're showcasing.
Don't skimp out on the portfolio book. Great work can be ruined if presented in a cheap or tatty manner. There are tons of choices out there from portrait to landscape size to the type of finish you'd like. Whichever style you go for we'd suggest a portfolio book that is at least A4 or larger in dimensions to allow the viewer to really inspect the work.
The quality of the prints is also an important aspect of your presentation. We've seen some stunning work destroyed by bad prints and not only does it harm your chances of landing the job but it projects a level of unprofessionalism that you don't want. A professional portfolio book and prints are worthwhile investments to make.
A portfolio's main function is to showcase your work to prospective clients. You will present this work via a variety of mediums to ensure that you're prepared. Your online portfolio will most likely be hosted on your website and be the first point of contact for the majority of your clients. Your digital portfolio is where you can include your entire body of work and really show off your experience. This is not to say that it should be a mess of images for the viewer to syphon through, on the contrary. Your online portfolio should be categorised provided you have enough work to back up each section.
Should you be a photographer working in the wedding sector, for instance, you may want to split your work up into weddings. This will allow the viewer to see how you approached each event. The viewer can then easily say which wedding they like and give you a really good idea of what they expect whilst providing the potential client with an easy 'menu style' way of choosing your services.
A fashion and beauty photographer may categorise work into commercial and editorial sections then further break down the work into shoots or styles.
Portable Digital Portfolio
The debate between printed and digital portfolios will rage on but our research has shown that it pays to be covered for both eventualities. A portable digital portfolio is typically presented on a tablet, laptop or phone. The latter (phone) should only ever be used in cases when you're caught on the hop and not expect to have to present. Think of it like your digital business card. You never know when you're going to meet your next client but it's unlikely you'll be dragging our laptop everywhere you go.
A digital portfolio should be categorised to make it easy for you to tailor based on the job. You should present your most appropriate work to each prospective client.
When an employer is looking to hire a freelancer for a one-off project, they have a few criteria. Near the top of the list is time and how long it's going to take to find the right person. This is particularly true when the job is a quick, modestly paid piece of work. Their time is precious and if something doesn't take hold quickly, they'll move onto the next option. Keep your showreel short - a couple of minutes can give anyone a good idea and if they want to see more then they've got your full portfolio to watch.
The second most important consideration from an employer's perspective is the price. When applying to freelancer photographer jobs on The Freelancer Club site, you'll be presented with a budget to quote within. In general, the person who lands the job is rarely the cheapest so take that into consideration before you undercut the market and devalue your brand. Equally, quoting over budget without an explanation as to why tends not to work. From time to time, employers (particularly the general public) are not aware of market rates and will choose the lowest budget option when posting a role. There is nothing wrong with some guidance when you apply to these positions so long as you are realistic and fair.
Should you not know what to quote, which is a common problem freelancers face all the time, then it's worth calculating your bottom line so you don't end up out of pocket. To do this, follow a simple calculation to get your figure:
EXPENSES / HOURS WORKED + TAX
To help break this down, add up all your expenses including personal expenses (rent, food etc..) as well as your business expenses (kit, travel etc...). Let's say this comes to 10k per year. Then figure out how many chargeable hours you work each year. Chargeable hours are only hours when you are getting paid and not time travelling, doing admin, looking for jobs etc... As a ballpark, a typical photographer works around 20 chargeable hours per week with a 2 week holiday comes out as 1000 hours. Divide the two and you get £10 + tax (around 20% depending on where you are and how much you earn), meaning that your bottom line figure is £12 per hour.
Remember, this is the figure that you need to survive and will rarely be the figure you actually charge. Use this as a way to ensure you never lose money on a job.
On your Freelancer Club profile, you can set your day rate and hourly rate in the EDIT PROFILE section, so be sure to include this to generate more leads. The other areas to consider when filling out your Freelancer Club profile are the portfolio, profile pic, services, experience, contact details and links. Your profile in many ways is the perfect snapshot to show an employer to get a very good idea of your brand, quality, professionalism and price in seconds.
Should you not already be a member, creating a professional freelancer profile on The Freelancer Club will enable you to apply to freelancer photographer jobs with ease.
Use the following checklist when compiling your Freelancer Club profile to maximise your chances of landing freelancer photographer jobs.
- Profile Name: use your own name or brand name.
- Profile Picture: choose a picture of yourself, your work or your company logo.
- Website and Links: in the EDIT PROFILE section insert your website (if you have one) and all social media links.
- Whilst in the same section, insert your hourly rate, day rate, contact number and whether or not you are current;y test shooting.
- About Me section: Write out your experiences, awards and any past clients of note.
- Skill Set: list your skills that are associated with your services such as Photoshop or Studio lighting
- Services: under the UPDATE PROFILE click ADD A SERVICE to include any additional services that you offer eg: Retouching
4. Four essential tips when applying for photography apprenticeships
Once you feel that your Freelancer Club profile is complete and up to speed, it's time to start applying.
Firstly, it's a mistake to blindly click apply for every job in the hope that something comes of it. Each job is an opportunity and should be approached individually.
Tip #1: Every application gives you an opportunity to add a message. This field is the main area for you to provide the employer with essential information. They will see a snapshot of your work, your message a quote so make the most out of it. Address any areas of the job description and sell yourself to the employer. Mention examples of your creativity, campaign work, collaborative experience and professionalism. DO NOT provide them with additional links to click. They have chosen to use our platform to save on time!
Tip #2: State what your weaknesses are as well as your strength. This is a development role and the lead photographer will want to know where to improve you and where to use you.
Tip #3: On occasion, the photographer will have questions they wish to ask before considering you for the apprenticeship. These additional questions are often qualifiers to help them narrow their search. Make sure you answer them honestly.
Tip #4: Keep your head up. Freelancing is not like the nine to five world. Freelancers have to apply to roles all the time in the hope of landing one or two. Should you not hear anything back after a week, that does not mean you're not good enough, you just need to keep pushing. It can take time to land jobs or apprenticeships and if you're just starting out it's arguably the toughest time. Stick with it - it gets easier.
5. The 'do nots' when applying for videographer jobs
Here at The Freelancer Club will strive to constantly improve and develop the platform. In fact, we dedicate the lion share of our time thinking about and implementing new ideas to add more value to the membership and improve the user experience. The main source of data that we use from an employers perspective comes from the backend analytics as well as employer feedback. Combined, these two elements allow us to see who is getting the job and WHY. Using the same principle, we can also see who isn't landing photography jobs and offer feedback to help freelance members improve their chances in the future.
- Do not apply for jobs that you're under-qualified for.
- Do not apply to jobs without a portfolio.
- Do not leave the message section, quote or questions empty.
- Do not ask the employer to click on another link to your website or social media platform
- Do not under or over quote without any justification.
- Do not offer your services for free.
To find photographer jobs in the UK it's important to be patient. You'll have to apply for a lot before you land a few but the hard work pays off. Don't be another statistic that wants everything on a plate. Hard work pays off when it comes to finding photography jobs.
Follow our 6 do not point and you'll be halfway there.
Freelance photography is a wonderful sector with endless possibilities. From shooting abroad to collaborating on exciting projects, photographers can gain huge job satisfaction, earn a decent living and have a great work/life balance. If you're not yet a Freelancer Club member, click here to claim your freelance profile and get started.