How to Prepare for an Interview in the Photography Business


When you're preparing for a photography interview, it's essential to bring along a portfolio of your work -- but don't expect to simply hide behind that big black book without having to utter a word. Like other jobs, preparing for photography jobs requires research into the company, tailoring your images to the company style, and practicing what you'll say about your photos and your career.

Know the Client or Employer

  • Whether you're trying to land a staff job at a newspaper, magazine or design studio or you're going for a freelance gig, the people with whom you'll interview will definitely want a photographer who fits in with their vision and who understands the particular look they're going for. For jobs with publications or in advertising, spend some time poring over the company website and perusing its published materials to get a feel for its style, common techniques used and the general feel of the company's images.

Prep Your Portfolio

  • Whether it's a staff gig or freelance, the research you do will give you a good idea of what to include front-and-center in your portfolio. As a professional photographer, you should already have a website that displays some of your best work across multiple genres, whether that be sports, fashion, news or portraits. The hard copy of your portfolio, though, should be tailored to every job. Based on what you saw in your research, choose images that match the company's style, and put them toward the front of your portfolio book. It's OK to include a few varied images, but if the company deals in fashion, for example, most of your portfolio images should be fashion-related. With the portfolio assembled, have a photographer friend look it over to critique your choices and help you improve the overall presentation.

Talking About Your Work

  • During the interview, there's a good chance you're going to be asked about your photos. As you put the portfolio together, make notes about the shutter speed, lighting conditions, equipment you used and any other anecdotal information you remember. Being able to describe the technical elements of each photo can help the interviewers get a sense of your level of expertise and your creative process. If you're interviewing with a prospective individual client, however, limit the technical jargon. Clients may be more interested in the stories behind the photos or how you set up the shoot, as well as how much time and expense particular shoots took.

Shining at the Interview

  • The interviewers are going to be concerned about your photography skills, but you're also a human being with whom they'll need to form a solid working relationship. As such, your interview prep should also include time practicing some of the common interview questions, such as what your strengths and weaknesses are, the environments in which you work best, your ideal schedule, and in the case of individual clients, how much you charge for your services. If you're prepping for a private client, print out an expense sheet to give her an idea of the costs and what she'll get in return. For staff jobs, have a colleague practice a mock interview with you, playing the skeptical editor or the tough marketing professional to help you calm your nerves and work through possible interview scenarios.

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