Visual Media Professionals Share Advice for Those Starting a Career in The Industry.

We asked 16 visual media industry professionals what advice they would give to anyone wanting to start a career in the industry. This is what they said:

Alex Wilshire Alex Wilshire - Joint Director - Burnham Niker - I think the landscape has changed massively in the last 10 years since I got my first job, and I think there are so many ways that you can get into the industry now, I definitely donít know them all. I would say try and get as much experience in places as you can, speak to people about the jobs they do, how they got there. Try not to feel too despondent when getting knock-backs. I applied for 26 jobs before I got my first one. You are competing against a lot of people who have all just graduated and hungry for work, but youíve got to remember that while a lot of them are great, a lot of them are totally useless too and it doesnít take long to work that out. To stand out I think you need to be pro-active and polite, you have to care about what you are doing and certainly be enjoying it. If you stop enjoying it maybe itís time to move on and try something new, there are so many creative opportunities out there, itís just a case of hunting them out!
Full interview here.

Gail Jenkinson Gail Jenkinson - Camera Operator - Take the time to assist and enjoy the process of that. I really feel it's an invaluable time to learn from experience. Those camera operators that you work for hopefully assisted too so the wealth of knowledge being passed down is immense.
Full interview here.

sarah lee Sarah Lee - Portrait and Features Photographer - Iím not sure I feel very qualified to give advice, but Iíd suggest not working for free unless you choose to because you can see the clear advantage to your own progression and also to always keep at it trying to improve your technical skills and develop your eye - itís an endless journey!
Full interview here.

bill bennett Bill Bennett A.S.C - Cinematographer - Be as prepared as you can, and be there. Work as much as you can, even if it has to be for free, or low wages at first. You have to present yourself ready to successfully take on the challenges offered you. If you succeed, you will be offered further and greater challenges, if you fail, you wonít be hired again. Itís that simple. Full interview here.

antonio olmos portrait Antonio Olmos - Documentary Photographer - (On shooting documentary projects) Just do them. But only do it if the subject matter is something you deeply care about.
Full interview here.

cheryl newman portrait Cheryl Newman - Ex-editor, Writer and Photography Consultant - When I was at the magazine we ran an intern programme, it was great way to get in the door and many of my old interns are now working within the Telegraph or on other magazines. Itís how I got into the business and I still feel great thanks to those photo editors at the time that gave me the chance. The best advice I can give is to be passionate and knowledgeable. Go to openings and festivals, make a blog, try to connect with people in the industry. Itís not easy to open doors and the competitions fierce these days but there are also many opportunities online now.
Full interview here.

danny cooke portrait Danny Cooke - Filmmaker - The best thing to do is to keep making content, setup a Vimeo account and work on curating a strong portfolio. Vimeo for me is still a place where I get most of my work enquiries.
Full interview here.

liz allen portrait Liz Allen - Documentary Filmmaker - If you have an idea with strong characters and a good story then you have hit gold. Where this idea sits is also another question: is this a feature documentary or a TV hour or an on-line documentary? There are also subtle differences in criteria but ultimately if itís a great idea, which has a contemporary heart, then any platform will do. For a documentary to succeed the last ingredient would be passion Ė passion for the subject and characters are key and a curious mind.
Full interview here.

nicolas goodden portrait Nicolas Goodden - Street Photographer - Be your worse critic. Donít expect people on Facebook or Instagram to say your work is rubbish as theyíll mostly only say itís ďawesomeĒ. Only you can truly look at your work and think ďhow can I make it better next time?Ē. Keep doing that and youíll produce work thatís better and better which people will eventually want to hire you for.
Full interview here.

graham watson portrait Graham Watson - Cycling Photographer - Give it a try, give it your best shot, literally. Consider starting with one camera/one medium-length lens and keep your photography simple until you gain experience and buy a second camera-body with a different, maybe longer lens. Look at other photographers' images when you can, learn from them and eventually apply your own style to a popular method of shooting cycling. The trick is to get images sold as soon as you can, thus gaining the motivation to continue. This can come from building your own web-site, and/or from going out to local races and making yourself known, selling some prints to the cyclists and especially making the organizer aware of your work. Good work always leads to sales, so make sure you only offer your best work to potential clients. Avoid doing what most photographers do these days and load everything up to a server like flickr. It's so annoying to be given a link to someone's images and to then see too many images, or a series of images when just one would suffice. Most pro' photographers and editors are too busy to spend hours looking at someone else's images so keep your offering simple, edit the images carefully, throw away anything you're not sure about. If all works well, a rookie photographer will see some return within a year of starting-out, then it's time to take the next step and go to bigger races where the potential of sales is bigger.
Full interview here.

phil o'brien portrait Phil O'Brien - Founder of Empics Sports Photo Agency - You will have to be world class to really cut through. The quality of photography these days is exceptional. Work hard, love what you do, take lots of pictures and don't just think of the big events!
Full interview here.

anna gray portrait Anna Gray - Owner of Model Students Model Agency - Itís not easy! Youíve got to be prepared to give it a lot of time. Have a USP that makes you unique. Thereís a lot of business and a lot of start-ups. There are lots of photographers just in Nottingham and thereís lot of model agencies in the UK. You have to be able to tell clients why youíre better than the competition. Be yourself and be nice people. We have such good relationships with our clients. They then recommend us to others. We put a lot of our success down to that.
Full interview here.

tim gander portrait Tim Gander - Commercial Photographer - In addition to ďfill the bloody frameĒ Iíd say that you really have to do a proper business plan and understand how important it is to set rates which make your career viable. Make sure you understand copyright and licensing and incorporate these into your terms of doing business. All this can be researched on sites such as www.EPUK.org, but be sure to research all the business aspects as fully as possible. Be prepared for periods so busy youíll wish you could have a day off and be prepared to switch straight back into marketing mode when things go quiet.
Full interview here.

mohamad itani portrait Mohamad Itani - Book Cover Photographer - Study how images are being used in all sorts of publications it will help when developing your compositions, be patient and donít stop shooting.
Full interview here.

john lund portrait John Lund - Conceptual Stock Photographer - Make everything you do the very best that you can do it and then find the audience for that work. So easy, eh?
Full interview here.

peter dazeley portrait Peter Dazeley - Commercial Photographer - My advice to young people is itís not about being in the right place at the right time its more about being in the right place for a long time. Experiment and do something different. Make mistakes, just donít make the same mistake twice. X-ray photography set the market alight, just be the first person to do X-ray and not the last sad person. There are so many things too like eye-contact and firm handshake. Itís simple stuff. Look at your CV quality and what you put in to it. They need to think about what if they were receiving that CV. Iím wildly dyslexic so it doesnít trouble me if people are misspelling, but it does show lack of attention to detail. I donít need to know if youíve spent 6 months working in a burger bar. The reality is itís about personality. I will spend a lot of time with an assistant so you have to find someone who is on the same wavelength. One of the most creative things people do is their CV. They should sex up what theyíve done. Be creative about it. Put a picture of themselves on it.

If youíre going in to an advertising agency see the standard of work they do. Do research on the people you are going to meet, Use Google, Wikipedia or Linkedin to find out about people. Find out what you have in common with the art director and go in with that information. Thatís how you stand out. If you are going to work in a fashion magazine you can be different you can dress in some wacky fashion outfit that makes you stand out and be remembered. It's the kind of thing your Mum and Dad should teach you. We live a world now where you can find out so much about people. I donít want to know what kind of photographer you are I want to know what kind of experience youíve had. They should bullshit and flannel. They should pick a piece of work the photographer has done and comment on it.

Youíve got to be different and stand out. Youíve got to think why would they give you the job and not the next guy? Not becoming a stalker and harassing people youíve got to do it in a gentle way that means they donít stop taking your phone calls. Itís very difficult to get appointments. It may take you months and months to get to see people.

Itís so difficult to get on the first rung and we find these kids that fall off the first rung. To get to work as an assistant you have to be proactive. If you want to get work as the first assistant and youíre the second assistant, work hard and be noticed, you canít stand in the corner with your hands in your pockets youíve got to impress, youíve got to make the tea before they ask for a cup of tea. Weíve had people in here who canít make a cup of tea. Where is the world going?

Let me give it you between the eyes, there are 20,000 students in photography courses from low-level night-classes up to 3-year degree full-time courses and there are only about 43,000 photography jobs in the uk. There are over 170 courses in photography and because of the desire to be in sexy media studies these courses continue to expand. Meanwhile weíre short of about 40,000 engineers.

For the young photographer of the future itís going to be very difficult to afford to create, with image looting and no punitive damages. If someone steals your great picture and it becomes their great picture what are you going to do? Take them to court? The cost of taking someone to court is prohibitive.

You donít have to be a photographer there are other professions within the photographic industry where you skills could work for you ie: set builder, stylist, home economist, hair and make up, picture researcher or model maker. There are so many different areas that people are unaware of that need a photographic skill. CGI is going to be huge in the future. Retouching and cgi are something weíll need for a long time.
Full interview here.



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