I have 15+ years experience in the photo industry. I used to work as a freelance photographer but have not done so in several years.

I work approximately 260 days a year. We receive PTO and holidays. I’ll say though that for all my vacation time last year, there were really only 1-2 days where I didn’t actually work at least half the day.

The salary has risen slowly with consistent, but small, merit raises every year plus a couple of promotions. I feel like my salary is still low, especially in comparison with male peers in similar positions. But it’s hard to say, as we’re in a Southeastern city and cost of living here is lower than NYC or LA.

I have a 401k that the company matches up to 4-5%. I can’t remember–the amount changes every time our brand is bought and sold so it’s hard to keep up.

I work for an editorial brand that covers lifestyle, food, etc. We hire photographers for a variety of shoots like travel, food, homes, celebrity, etc. We have a roster of freelancers that we work with regularly and are always looking for more. I look at Diversify Photo, Color Positive, Indigenous Photograph, Wonderful Machine, and various email promos I get from agencies.

Travel is hardest to hire for. You’ve got to be good at food, outdoors, interiors, portraits, etc. It’s hard to find shooters who do it all well, quickly and reliably.

Saddens me to say but I wouldn’t recommend anyone pursue a career in print media at this time, especially for photo. IME, the photo departments are first to get slashed when cuts come around. We’re all operating with fewer and fewer people, yet the workload keeps increasing (hello print AND digital).

The toes you step on today could be attached to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow. Be kind. and treat people with respect – my grandmother (but I think it’s great career advice for creatives).

An email intro with link to your work is great, just make it clear that you know the brand. We get lots of emails from people who’ve clearly never read our magazine.

Instagram works great too. The main thing for me is that expectations regarding response need to be reasonable. Should anyone really feel entitled to a response on an unsolicited email or phone call?

The truth is: I try very hard to respond to everyone. I get it because I’ve been on the other side. But we get so many emails and messages. Some are borderline harassment! If you only knew the kinds of phone calls and emails your photo editor/producer/art director was getting. Unsolicited messages have to fall to the bottom of the to-do list, which unfortunately, is bottom-less. We just don’t have the bandwidth.

That being said, if I contact you first then I promise that I won’t ghost you. If I do, roast me. It’s rude and unprofessional. I’ve had to have uncomfortable conversations due to last minute changes but so far, everyone I’ve worked with has been gracious and understanding.

I lean on Instagram and magazines pretty heavy to find photographers. I do my best to pay attention to photo awards, photo websites, and blogs (like A Photo Editor).

Be easy to work with.
Be kind.
Respond in a timely manner to emails. It’s so important. If you’re consistently slow to respond or hard to reach, we’re can’t keep reaching out to you.

If you’re rude, you’re gonna lose out on gigs. People won’t want to work with you. Be nice to people. It is not hard.

And please talk to us! If you need something or have ideas, speak up. My favorite photographers to work with are the ones who call me up and talk to me like a friend. They know how to collaborate. They’re always looking for solutions instead of complaining or telling me why something can’t be done. This is how you earn our trust.

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1 Comment

  1. I know salaries go a little further away from the coasts, but that’s insufficient compensation for someone with 15 years experience. Salaries overall have not kept pace with real costs and inflation. I hope she gets a raise!

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