1. Photography Jobs London
Photography jobs in London are in high demand. Knowing where and how to find them is important, understanding what employers want to see is paramount.
Why am I struggling to find photography jobs in London?
Over the last few years, we've seen the demand for photographs, video, graphics and visual content sore and yet more and more photographers are complaining that they are not finding enough paid photography jobs to keep their business afloat. It's a sad state of affairs when one considers how vital content is for businesses in today's market, the budget spent on social media marketing and our newly adapted penchant for visual consumption.
The first place to start your search for photography jobs is the way we tend to start every new search, with Google. What happens when we type 'photography jobs' into our preferred search engine? We see online jobs boards and lots of them. Most photography work is found here, particularly for new photographers, who have yet to establish themselves in the industry.
Knowing who to join and which sites to use is a personal choice, however, we can offer some advice in regards to the pitfalls that many photographers are falling into.
The natural inclination is to click every link on the first page of Google and join all of the sites in a rush. This often results in incomplete profiles, rushed applications and a tonne of rejection making you feel worse than before you started. More seasoned job hunters may have pre-written documents they can copy and paste from including a bio and standard application copy. Our data, taking from hundreds of employers who hire photographers on a regular basis, shows how this approach rarely results in paid work.
Apps, job board sites and tech are supposed to make these things easier! Well, they do but to beat off the competition, a photographer still has to put in the work and go the extra mile. When something is easy, everyone will do it. Employers look for tailored applications and that includes your portfolio, not just your cover letter.
The vast majority of online jobs board are not catering to the creative sector. Indeed, Reed, UpWork, People Per Hour, all focus on traditional jobs. That means the main aspect of an application for a photographer, ie: the portfolio of work, is often sent as a link to a website. This makes it really difficult for an employer to manage and hire the photographer. We know that the number one aspect an employer looks for when hiring a photographer is the quality of their work and how relateable it is to their brief.
By all means apply to jobs on these sites but tailor your application, if possible, send a link to a portfolio that is directly related to the project so that the employer can see work that they can associate with the job and try to stand out with a creative approach be that a funny opening line or a reference to the employers site.
Here on The Freelancer Club jobs board, we post a lot of paid photography jobs in London. The capital is highly competitive and the quality is of an exceptional standard. a variety of sectors. We make it as easy as possible for photographers to apply to jobs with a personal touch. The key is getting your profile up to a very high standard from the off. This goes for all job sites and in particular the sites that accommodate creative freelancers and their portfolio work.
When you upload your portfolio to your profile, you are able to create portfolio galleries. This is useful for a number of reasons not least as you are able to choose which portfolio to send the employer when you apply for jobs. An employer looking for a property photographer won't want to sift through fashion, beauty and boudoir images before getting to your property work so arranging them in a neat way is vital.
Make it as easy as humanly possible for an emplyer to hire you.
We also provide photographers with the option to send a message with each application. Keep it short and sweet, to the point and personal to the job and the brief. You can also send a quote with your message. The employer will set a budget range. That doesn't mean you can't exceed it, however, it must be justified for the employer to consider you.
2. Niche or Multiple Sectors?
Photographers face a new challenge in today's market when it comes to personal and business branding. Should a photographer position themselves in a niche market or be as broad as possible. Let's look at the pros and cons.
Most new photographers do not have the luxury of time to focus on a tight niche and simply say 'yes' to any job that comes their way. In many cases, their brand is determined by the type of work they get over time. Once a photographer lands a few jobs in one area, their portfolio of work grows along with their experience, contacts and reputation in that particular sector.
Offering multiple types of photography services will increase the number of jobs a photographer can apply for, however, it also means that the photographer must build a portfolio in these areas too and that can take time. Let's imagine a photographer offers wedding services, fashion and property, they will have to build up a substantial body of work in each area to compete with photographers who specialise in just one market. It can also impact on a photographer's style when jumping from one sector to the next.
Conversely, going niche from the start can be a very daunting approach. It may feel counter-intuitive to rule yourself out of so many markets.
Finding a niche from the start does have a number of advantages. Employers are spoilt for choice with so many incredibly talented photographers offering their services. Should the employer require a photographer for a particular job, they will often opt for a specialist. A niche allows photographers to develop their portfolio and experience in one area thus growing at a faster rate.
Saying no to certain jobs may feel counter-intuititve when starting out but comes with a number of advantages.
3. Brand portfolio.
A portfolio is a body of work 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 many that they need to put the kettle on to get through it all. You may only have 10 seconds before a potential client clicks on the next applicant so don't open with your weak work or show repetitive imagery at any stage of the portfolio.
The main function of a portfolio is to present your work in the best possible light to prospective clients to generate opportunities. Prior to showing your portfolio, it's vital to understand what a portfolio is for. You may require a printed portfolio for an interview or to land a one-off job. A gallery may require a portfolio to ascertain whether to accept your work (see more under Presentation)
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. Your style will change based on project work, clients and your natural artistic inclinations. New photographers should be conscious of their style as early as possible and see if there are patterns emerging in their work that could be used to build on. Established photographers should be able to show a clear style in their work and provide the prospective client with a clear understanding of the type of end result they can expect.
When presenting your work via email or in person, your choices are vital. This is why online galleries are vital. We've come across certain photographers who create bespoke galleries for each application and send the prospective client a link to the gallery in question. Each presentation will be different and your choice of images to include or leave out will often determine whether you land the job or not.
Photography jobs in London are plentiful. We've seen over the last 5 years a wider divide between low pay and high pay jobs. Understanding how to apply to each is imperative.
Choosing Your Photography Images
Like deciding who your favourite child is, one of the most difficult aspects of compiling a portfolio is choosing the images to include and the images to leave out. Try to sperate yourself from the photography - easier said than done. You'll most probably have a personal connection to the work which makes it tough to be impartial but it's vital that you are ruthless in these moments.
The opening portfolio image should sum up who you are as a photographer. It should capture your style to perfection and provide the client with a clear idea of your work. It's also the key image to capture the client's attention. After all, we want the viewer to keep inspecting your work and in cases where there are 200 portfolios to get through, the first image can often be the 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, however, it's important to avoid repetitious shots and for fashion editorials, you'll need to present more. Fashion can be a little different particularly if it's editorial work you're showcasing.
The actual portfolio book is still relevant in certain sectors. Namely, high fashion and when presenting to agencies in person. Our research shows that most clients like thumbing through pages rather than swiping past screens. We have seen a spike in wedding photographers printing out their work so that they can sit with the bride and groom to show them the quality of the photography work.
Don't skimp out on the portfolio book. Great work can be ruined if presented in a cheap or tatty manner. There are lots of choices out there from portrait to landscape sizing 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.
The Online Photography Portfolio
A portfolio's main function is to showcase work to prospective clients. You will present this photography work via a variety of mediums online and offline so be sure that you're prepared. Your online portfolio will most likely be hosted on your website, social media channels or profiles on industry sites such as The Freelancer Club and will be the first point of contact for the majority of your clients.
Your online digital photography 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 siphon 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 by 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 breakdown the work into shoots or styles. Always consider the client's requirements and what they may look for when browsing your online portfolio.
Social media can be a curse as much as it can be a blessing. Great for making new contacts and connections but paint a bad picture of yourself and the client may take that into account. It's much more than just a strong portfolio that lands the job, it's professionalism, experience, reliability, creativity and the ability to bring value in addition to the quality of the work.
A Portable Digital Portfolio
Printed or digital? How should you present your photography portfolio in person? 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 a 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. Clear, high-res images on a tablet can look beautiful and often out-do a printed version of the shot. Low-res, pixelated images, on the other hand, are a massive put off and can destroy the hard work put in to create the photo in the first place.
A Printed Portfolio
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. When it comes to quick jobs, you're unlikely to ever require a printed portfolio. However, for bigger jobs, a printed photography portfolio can often be the deal breaker.
4. The Price Is Right
We know from the data that clients see the portfolio as the most important consideration when hiring a photographer. Second on the list of considerations from an employer's perspective is the price.
When applying to photography jobs in London on The Freelancer Club jobs board, you'll see a budget range that the client has set out. Statistically, the photographer who lands the job is rarely the one who quotes 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. The way to combat this is to quote within budget and outline your additional costs with justification in the message that accompanies the application.
From time to time, employers (particularly the general public) are unaware of market rates and will choose the lowest budget option when posting a role (under £250). The Freelancer Club is a members club with a jobs board, we do not take commission or fees, therefore we have limited influence on the person or company that post a role. They must comply with the minimum wage and we reject all unpaid roles. However, it is up to the photographer to help the client understand their quote. There is nothing wrong with some guidance when you apply to these positions so long as you are realistic and fair.
Figuring out your day rate is a very complicated process and unique to each photographer. Often based on location, service, experience, quality and professionalism, there is no 'rate calculator' that will give you the answer. You must figure it out through trial and error, researching the market and finding the sweet spot. However, it is important that your day rate works for your business model. Two quick sums will help with this. How many chargeable days will you work each year? What are your overall expenses?
Photographers can use these figures to calculate their bottom line (the minimum hourly rate that a photographer should never go under) so you don't end up out of pocket. To do this, follow a simple calculation to get your figure:
EXPENSES / HOURS WORKED + TAX
Here's a quick technique to use.
Add up all your expenses including personal expenses (rent, food etc..) as well as your business expenses (kit, travel etc...). Let us imagine this results in 10k per year.
Then figure out how many chargeable hours you work each year. Chargeable hours are the hours when you are getting paid and not time travelling, doing admin, looking for jobs etc... 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 crude equation is the figure that you need to charge just to break even 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 show prospective clients how much they can expect to be charged.
The other key areas to consider when filling out your Freelancer Club profile are the portfolio, profile pic, services, experience, contact details and links (social media and website). Your profile is the perfect snapshot to give an employer 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 photography jobs London with ease.
To ensure you maximise your chances of landing the job, use the following list to complete your Freelancer Club profile.
- 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.
- Details: whilst in the same section, insert your hourly rate, day rate, contact number and whether or not you are currently 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. Essential tips when applying for photography jobs in London
Once you feel that your Freelancer Club profile is complete and up to speed, it's time to start applying. Photography jobs in London are plentiful but sought after so it pays to be on the ball.
Firstly, it's crucial that you have a notification set up that alerts you to every job you'd like to apply for.
Tip #1: Click on JOBS - JOB ALERTS and set up the type of jobs that you'd like to receive notifications. Photographers can also adjust the frequency of the job alerts in SETTINGS.
When applying for a photography job in London, it's a mistake to blindly click apply on every job, paste a message and hope that something comes of it. Each job is an opportunity and should be approached individually. Tailor the message to the role and answer any additional questions the client may have asked. The message is a photographer's only opportunity to provide the client with additional info or open a negotiation.
Tip #2: Every application gives the photographer a chance to send a message directly to the client. This field is the main area for you to provide the employer with essential information. They will see a snapshot of your work (see below), your message a quote to get 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 time!
Tip #3: Choose your featured images. The three images that are first seen by the client are often deal breakers. Photographers can choose which three images they wish to show as from their portfolio. To choose the three images, click MY PROFILE - UPDATE PROFILE - MANAGE PORTFOLIOS (make sure that galleries have been created) - ARRANGE and look for the yellow star icons.
Tip #4: On occasion, the client will have questions they wish to ask before considering you for the photography job. These additional questions are often qualifiers to help the client narrow their search. Make sure you answer them honestly and clearly.
Tip #5: Be professional from the start. Watch out for spelling mistakes, ask searching questions and keep your head up. Freelancing is a constant hustle and London photographers will hear no a lot more than yes. Freelance photographers in London have to apply to roles all the time in the hope of landing one or two. Rejection is commonplace so it pays to embrace it. Should you not hear anything back after a week, that does not mean the work is not good enough, photographers just need to keep pushing. It can take time to land photography jobs 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 photography jobs in London
Here at The Freelancer Club, we strive to constantly improve and develop the platform to help photographers develop their career (we're not just a jobs board you know!). In fact we dedicate the lion share of our time thinking about and implementing new tools, ideas and features to add more value to the membership. The main source of data that we use from an employers perspective comes from the backend analytics as well as general 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 figure out why this is to help freelance photography members improve their chances in the future. Here are our top 6 pitfalls to watch out for.
- Do not apply to jobs that you're clearly not equipped for.
- Do not apply to jobs without a portfolio. Empty profiles are almost always moved into the 'unsuccessful' category.
- Do not leave the message section, quote or questions empty. Think of the client's journey. They require certain information to hire you - give it to them.
- Do not ask the employer to click on a site link or social media platform. Clients use The Freelancer Club as it makes finding freelancers easy. Sending them to another website is an annoyance.
- Do not under or over quote without any justification. We don't think any member should under quote, ever and only over quote if they can explain why they are charging more.
- Do not offer your services for free. You have a value, know it, ask for it.
To find photography jobs in London it's important to be patient. Photgraphers have to apply to a large number of jobs before they 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.
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.