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3 Surefire Ways To Get Ahead in Photography

The Dots hosted a Photography Portfolio Masterclass at Spring Studios to give talented emerging photographers the chance to have their work reviewed by some of the UK’s most prominent Picture Editors and Photographic Agents.

Whilst we had them in the room, they asked a few questions on how to get ahead in the hugely competitive photography industry. Here's the most useful responses.

3 Sure-Fire Ways To Get Ahead in Photography
Photography: Jack Woodhouse

Getting Ahead In The Industry – 3 Top Tips

Be original

Photography industry leaders are primarily on the hunt for originality and a unique perspective because, “In the end if you’re presenting a book that looks like someone else, you better be a cheaper version of them, because there’s no reason to hire you just to be a copycat” (Robin Derrick, Executive CD, Spring Studios).

Matt Davey (Co-Founder & Director, Probation London) told us that he looks for “originality – an ability to express ideas in their work and create something other than just a pretty picture.”

Have a ‘can-do’ attitude

Never underestimate the importance of having an upbeat and ‘go-getting’ character. If someone thinks you’re going to respond to a difficult brief with enthusiasm, they’re more likely going to want to work with you.

Dalia Nassimi (Deputy Picture Editor, WIRED) told us “If they have that easy going, very can-do personality and are up for a bit of an adventure you get real magic.”

Similarly, the main thing Jamie Klingler (Publishing Manager, Shortlist/Stylist Magazine) looks for in a photographer is “someone that will do anything and that are part of my team on the day. These are the people who I wanna work with again and again and I wanna have a drink with, and who I’ll hire a million times over.”

Be personable

You’re going to have to work with lots of people throughout a shoot and if you’re unpleasant to be around, chances are noone is going to want to work with you again. “You need to be personable, you need to get on with people, you need to be able to chat and work around an idea.” (Steve Peck, Picture Editor, WIRED Magazine).

It may not seem that important, but as Nicola Kavanagh (Editor in Chief, Glass Magazine) points out, if it’s a toss up between two photographers, “and they both have a really strong portfolio, I’m gonna go with the one that’s easier to get along with, because everyone likes a nice, easy life!”

So it seems that being nice really can help you finish first, hurrah!

Looking to get feedback on your portfolio? Find out about The Dots' next Portfolio Masterclasses.

If you think you have a campaign that uses photography in an exciting and beautiful way, why not enter it into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our board of judges agrees. 

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