Photoshelter Webinar – How We Hire Photographers – Recap

I listened in on an hour-long webinar hosted by Photoshelter and I have to say, one of the best webinars I have done/listened to, and here’s why – it gave me ideas on how to get into freelance for magazines and larger publications.

For those who don’t know, I work full-time at a weekly newspaper, but I have been working on building freelance clients.

Some of these are local publications, but I have really wanted to get into magazines, with recommendations from many friends and family who have seen my work.

The first speaker was Travel + Leisure Magazine Photo Editor Whitney Lawson.

Lawson started talking about  mailers and printed promos verses email promos.

The thing that hit me the most is how easy it all sounds. When I read these blogs about marketing, I feel like it is an impossible task, but Lawson made me want to do marketing, not just to grow business, but to meet more people.

Realizing that most photographers do promos or mailers, I really should be doing this to grow as a business.

“Once a month, send out an email, or mail promos,” Lawson said.

“Talk about what you are working on, what you are doing,” she said.

I never realized how easy it really is, I am already doing some of the things she suggested, but need to send out emails.

Personal work.

Well I have really made a big jump into personal work this year in order go grow as a business and get my name out as a photographer.

“We are always interested to see personal work, see where you live,” she said.

A great way to start an email marketing campaign is to simply inform publications that you are here, where ever you are, for me I would say something like, I am a Harrisburg based photographer.

Lawson said the “Kiss of Death” for photographers who want photo assignments from publications is sending a promo with the variety of work. “Tell me a story,” she said.

Lawson said that photographers who try to show how “well-traveled” they are is something that turns her off from using them for assignments.

Keeping it simple, is the best mailer, or promo she said.

One or two images with a similar theme.

Recently I have started a website and I was curious to see what Lawson likes/hates about photographer websites.

“Keep it clean and simple,” Lawson said.

“All photo editors say that tons of bells and whistles take the focus off the photography,” she said.

Another suggestion Lawson had was allowing for low-resolution downloads for viewing samples.

Something that shocked me was when Lawson said that the magazine doesn’t usually require model releases.

This was something I would think is an industry standard for magazine work, but Lawson says most of the time the only time the publication requires a release is for a cover shot.

Does Lawson respond to photographers that inquire about assignments? She said no, but she does bookmark photographer’s websites.

The company also keeps track of a photographer’s location, in the event that the photographer might be in the right place at the right time for a photo shoot.

Lawson highlighted that printed promos are nice to open in the mail.

Most of us, just starting out, might not have the budget for mail promos, but she said it’s nice to make it personal.

“What do you want to shoot?”

“What do you like to shoot?”

“Show me that,” she said.

“If you like food, then show me some awesome shots of food,” she said.

Travel + Leisure uses hundreds of photographers, and counting freelancers, that number jumps to thousands, Lawson said.

That gives me some hope that maybe I could get an assignment with them some day.

How do you get noticed?

Lawson suggested researching publications that interest the photographer and find stories that are possible to recreate.

Lawson highlighted the local angle, making sure to have your name come up in a search, for example “Harrisburg Photojournalists.” I did this search on my name. Depending on how you enter this, I come up third, or on the second page. This is not good. I should come up much higher on the list.

Documenting the world around you, showing where you live, she said, is what she likes to see.

“Tell me who you are and where you live,” Lawson said.

The second speaker, Ashley Macknica, worked at Photo Editor and agent selling images for New York Magazine, and continues to work with NYT Magazine.

Macknica focused on building a relationship.

“Let the editor know who you are, what you have to show,” she said.

Being repetitive in exposure and brand consistency are important factors in marketing, Macknica said.

“The more you see someone, you remember them,” she said.

“We don’t always have time to research every photographer out there,” Macknica said.

“It usually ends up being who comes to mind first, who you already know,” she said.

“And those whose work match the assignment,” Macknica said.

“Be nice.”

Talking about blogs, she recommended

She suggested for new business starters.

Humble Arts Foundation is another she suggested to use for blogs and are great outlets for personal work.

“What kind of magazines do you look at?”

A question asked during the webinar.

“I look at everything,” Macknica said.

“I keep an eye on all kinds of photography,” she said.

Macknica also highlighted the search engines and names coming up in the search for local photographers.

Starting a newsletter was another suggestion I have heard recently. I like the idea, but doing it, and doing it well, are two things I don’t have time for at this point.

One thing I am trying to do on a weekly basis in addition to adding personal work, adding posts to my blog, from the work I already do for publications.

Since I am the “everything” girl at my newspaper, I have access to PDF files, which allows me to upload the front pages, nice when we have a good-looking front page, and I want to showcase that to readers of my blog who don’t live in the area.

I also upload stories I feel work well with my layout, and that I have worked on and written.

Not that I have money for an agent anyway, but Macknica said she would rather work with a photographer than an agent in most cases, unless it’s a big photo shoot.

One clear benefit of a newsletter, Macknica said, is the personal touch.

“It makes me feel like an insider,” she said.

Sending out alerts on Facebook and Twitter are effective as well, she said.

Something that really stood out for me from this webinar is the question someone asked about using photographers as writers.

“It is fairly unusual to use the same person for a story and photographs,” she said.

“It’s hard to find both interesting and find work that is relevent,” she said.

“But it’s not impossible,” she said.

Email versus direct mail?

Macknica said she also likes to get that promo piece in the mail.

“It stands out from the bills and invoices.”

“I can hang it on my wall and decorate my cubical.”

So how to do get noticed as a freelancer?

The best advice Macknica gave was being multi-pronged. Having many resources and ways for clients to find you is the way you will catch the interest of clients.

I already use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and Blogger, so If you are not connected with me, please, let’s get connected so we can grow our network.

Thanks for reading.

Now check out my webiste, if you haven’t done so already.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Terri Bahun says:

    Hi Debra,
    Great post. I listened to that webinar too, and you nailed it summarily.
    I too am venturing past the studio/location photography bus and want to more independently shoot for hire. Whitney had lots of inspiration on how to do that.
    Have you sent her anything yet? You should.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. debraschell says:

      Thanks for your comments. I haven’t but I am planning to work on some suggestions she has provided. Thanks.

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