3 answers

What do I need in order to stand out?

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Photography is a rising industry with many people in it. I want to make sure that I stand out far away from the crowd. This is going to be hard due to the fact that so many people are talented and wanting a photography job. How can I ensure that I will stand out and get a job in this world?
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Ken’s Answer

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The most important things to do to stand out are:

  • Confirm your selection of a suitable career area - during my years in human resources, I have found that people who follow this step are the ones most likely to select and flourish in a suitable career area and stand out on their merits
  • Work as hard as you can to get the best grades possible - future employers and networking contacts always look for people who have proved to be doing their best that they can in their assignments
  • Develop and maintain personal in-person networking connections - such in-person networking allows one to further confirm the suitability of a career area and develop contacts that will prove to be valuable throughout one's education/career journey

During my professional years, I have found that the following steps will allow one to develop potential in an appropriate career area and excel.

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
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David’s Answer

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Hi again Ciara,


The bottom line for a professional photographer: you have to produce images that your client is going to pay you for. You get hired because the images in your portfolio show the vision you have and your ability to capture your vision with a camera.( never show anything but your best images) Your portfolio should contain images that illustrate the area of work you wish to pursue. Like photojournalism, sports, advertising and so on.

Striking images are the ones that create an emotional reaction in the viewer and that can be amplified by the faces in your photographs. Your photographs have to connect with whomever you are showing them to. I would suggest you look at photographs that are considered to be outstanding and ask yourself what makes them exceptional.

Besides all of the above, get yourself and your images known. Shoot for school newspapers, volunteer as a photographer for non-profits, be seen at events with your camera. Remember, never show anything but your best images.

Best of luck!

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Katherine’s Answer

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Hi Ciara! Great question and it's good that you're already thinking about branding yourself. There are a handful of things you can start doing and thinking about in order to launch your photography career. Below are a few tips and feel free to continue your research online or through a network of professionals. Remember, the realm of photography extends further than this short list, but I hope you're able to find a nugget or two of wisdom here! GOOD LUCK! In my opinion, the world needs more artistic people and photography is wonderful way to capture what the artist sees through her lens.

Katherine recommends the following next steps:

  • What kind of photographer do you want to be? Do you want to work in the field or be in a studio? You can be a photojournalist, fusing photography and journalism into one to tell a story. Being a photographer can be a full-time or even a part-time gig. Do some research on photographers in your area, or your local newspaper-- they may be in need of a photography assistant and that would look good on your resume. Plus, you'd be building your personal and professional network through all these new connections. Remember, people talk and your name and reputation could carry you far if you maintain good relationships. It's all about networking in this world. It may be a little uncomfortable reaching out at first, but you'll learn that people are happy to help!
  • Consider professional training/schooling and certifications once you get the ball rolling. Try to become certified as a Certified Professional Photographer through the Professional Photographers of America. You'll be more credible and respected and could land more jobs that way. A degree is important, but experience carries a lot of weight too, so take as many internships as you can. Also, try to avoid being narrow-minded in choosing a degree! In fact, you would be more well-rounded if you take other classes/majors (like marketing, sociology, urban planning, etc.). Take it STEP by STEP-- in my opinion, you should not go to school all at once because you can risk going to school for something that you may not like in the end. It's never a race who can finish school first-- I wish someone told me that years ago so I would've gotten real life experience first and THEN decided on what to study. You should try to get some experience first, see what you like about it(or what you don't like), and decide from there where you want to further your education.
  • Artistically speaking, find a way to brand yourself by building a portfolio. Fill it with things you're good at-- landscapes, portraits, still life, commercial shots, action shots, black&white, etc. Take time to perfect your skill and don't be afraid to take risks with artistic freedom! That's what standing out is all about- taking risks that other people are afraid of taking! If you take "easy" picture-perfect images, it would be harder to stand out against all the other photographers who have done the same. Have fun with it. Experiment with lighting, color, various subjects, juxtaposition, textures, etc. Adobe Photoshop is also a HUGE skill to have under your belt. Find ways to take classes or even watch YouTube tutorials on how to use the software.
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