Hey, Got Any Jobs?
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when my inbox is inundated with speculative emails from not just the usual year-round would-be photographers and studio hands, but a legion of just-released-from-uni new graduates, out there seeking their first industry jobs.
These emails range from the polite, considered and professional through to the mis-spelled, abrupt and downright rude. I recieved one this very morning from one hopeful which began “Hey, I was wondering if you have any photography work going at your studio right now? I’m a music photographer from ******* and I would love to help out in a photography studio. Wether it’s taking photos or just helping with the editing that would be great!”
Whatever happened to “Dear…” or even “Hello, my name is…”? And what happened to spellcheck? This particular email went on to say, “Please take a look at some of my work here, also some quotes from bands I’ve worked with…” followed by the URL of her website.
Yes!!! You are just the person I’ve been looking for! I really need a semi-literate oik with no relevant experience (as far as I can tell from the scant information included) who doesn’t even sign her name on her email, can’t be arsed to attach a CV or examples of work, or even a proper link! My clients will be so impressed by your professional manner, I’m sure. Start at 10am tomorrow! Is £30k a year okay for starters?
Actually, on this occasion I did have a look at the sender’s website and the work was ok. Irrelevant but not bad. But I would never dream of having this person working in my studio. I’ve discussed this with a couple of photographers and studio owners over the last couple of months and the concensus seems to be that any email that starts with “Hey”, “Yo” (yes, I swear I get these too), or other, similarly inappropriate over-familiarities, plus those that leave out such pleasantries altogether, are headed straight for the “Recycle Bin”. I would add any “check out [yuk!] my website/Flickr…” emails to that too. As one photographer mate asked “What the f*** are they teaching them at college?”
So these are my tips for anyone sending speculative emails to photographers/studios for work…
- Find out a bit about who you are writing to. Yes, we are a bit vain, but it also helps if we don’t think you’ve cut-and-pasted the same hastily prepared drivel to every photography-related business that google throws up.
- Be polite!!! Imagine you are writing a letter. Or write a letter! Use traditional terms of address.
- Say what you can do, what you can’t, and anything else you can offer (Maybe you’re reliable, have an ethical standpoint, live locally – these things are important).
- Attach a CV, or offer to send one in a follow-up email. Or include important details about age, experience, qualifications. If you don’t include these, you’re expecting the recipient to ask – but they probably won’t bother, and might imagine you just don’t have anything to offer or you’d include details.
- Include your name and contact details.
- Attach an image or two. Don’t expect anyone to follow a link to your website – these can be virus-ridden, and businesses have better things to do than spend hours browsing other people’s websites. It may be hard to believe, but they might not be waiting around for you to drop into their lives. You contacted them, not the other way around.
Yes, photography is part of the creative industries – yes, I go to work in jeans and a t-shirt most days – but that doesn’t mean that basic professionalism and courtesy goes out of the window. I don’t care how great your photography is, if you come across like a chav, I won’t even meet you. I try to reply to everyone who sends me an email about employment. After all, I was in that situation once and I got a break (eventually). But I’ve now decided, in true grumpy old man fashion, that I will not even take the time to reply to people who: can’t be bothered to find out anything about the studio, don’t include a CV or even offer to send one, don’t take the time to compose a respectful and polite email.
By contrast, I have been known to take on interns who, in one case, admitted he didn’t have much photographic experience but highlighted other skills he had that might be useful to the business. He knew what we were about and what was needed. He had lots of ideas and was a real breath of fresh air for fotofilia (this is you if you’re out there, Ben). What he lacked in actual experience he made up for in enthusiasm and willingness to learn. I’d much rather work with someone who has little experience but a keen professional attitude than a “fully formed” photographer with bags of attitude and an amateur disposition.
So there it is. Woe betide anyone who addresses me with a “Yo” tomorrow. Grrr.