Why Did You Hire Me?

By: Stephen John Phillips - Full-Time Faculty, Digital Photography Filed under: Film & Production

March 23, 2018


Over the years, I have had many students ask—why does one photographer get hired over another? What sets a photographer apart from the competition? Honestly, there are a number of different answers to these questions. Sometimes, it seems that it just comes down to money. Does the less expensive photographer get the business? I have found that this isn’t always the case. Just because someone else is cheaper, doesn’t guarantee they land the job, especially in the case of advertising. If they like your style, they are usually willing to pay for it.

To get a different perspective, I decided to go right to the source and ask this very important question. I called an Art Director friend I have worked with many times over the years and asked, “Why did you hire me?” His response was really quite simple.

“You know what you are doing, you are always on time, your work is unique, and you are low maintenance.”

Wow, ok, so let’s break that down! I’ve been chosen because (1) I have the skills required, (2) I turn everything in on time, (3) My images don’t look like they came from stock, and (4) I don’t whine. There you go! This sounds like a simple formula for success.

Learn the Skills

Well, you are certainly in the right place for that! You are surrounded by a caring administration and faculty that want only the very best for you. Understanding and mastering camera and lighting equipment are paramount, as well as keeping current in all industry and technological advances, including Adobe Creative Suite.

Be On Time

I have found that the quickest way to get fired in this business is to be late! It effects everything, from scheduling to layout to printing. If you are late more than once or twice, that’s it, you are done! As the old saying goes, there are a lot more fish in the sea. 

Be Original

I also learned a long time ago that there is a thin line between fine art and commercial work. Meaning, don’t be afraid to include something a little different in your portfolio. Sometimes, it’s a technique like light painting or an unusual concept that was shot strictly as a personal piece. It has worked for me over the years and might even be the reason you are ultimately hired.

Don’t Be a Whiner

The same goes for whining! If you question everything, complain, and act like a diva, they will never call you again. Art Directors work with people that they LIKE! So be nice, be willing to make changes, be on time, and create innovative work.

Speaking of Art Directors, they can be your best friend. And if you do right by them, they will continue to feed you work for many years to come. On top of everything we have already discussed, the key is to make your time together special and as stress free as possible. Cookies help! I always kept a fresh, fully stocked bowl of Baltimore’s Famous Berger Cookies on hand and was told more than once that was what they liked most about my studio. Maybe we better add those to the formula, as well! 

Lastly, let me leave you with one more tip and it has to do with getting PAID! Often, you have no problem getting your advance but then, once the job is delivered, they seem to forget all about you. Here is a quick way to fix that—just add this simple line to your contract and the images are worthless to them—"Rights granted ONLY upon full and timely payment.” This means if they do not pay in full, they don’t have the right to use the pictures.

Happy shooting!

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By: Stephen John Phillips - Full-Time Faculty, Digital Photography Filed under: Film & Production

March 23, 2018