How to Create a Photography Resume

Four Parts:Know your specialtyWriting the resumeBuilding a portfolioSending your resume

Photography is a very visual profession so it's important for a resume to be more than just a sheet of paper. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your resume not only highlights your technical skills but also shows your creative and artistic side.

Part 1
Know your specialty

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    Pick a branch of photography that interests you. Fashion, lifestyle, advertising, nature and food are just some of the more popular areas of photography. You need to know what your strongest skills are before you begin.
    • Fashion photography requires a keen eye for fashion trends and set design. Do you enjoy working with models and celebrities? Do you see fashion as an art? If you know how the fashion industry works, you'll be able to create a place for you in it.
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    • Advertising/commercial photography is the most visible of the lot. It's a mixed bag of fashion, product, food and portrait photography rolled into one. Your photos should be able to sell or promote a product effectively. For those who fit the bill, this is a very lucrative field
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    • Nature and travel photography require many of the same skills. Be prepared to leave your comfort zone to get the best photographs. Both require a lot of field work, travel and minimal editing.
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    • Food photographers should have a love for the culinary arts. You don't have to be a professional chef but you will have to know about various ingredients that make up a dish. Invest in a good macro lens too.
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    Look at your history as a student of photography. What got you shooting to begin with? For example, if you’ve always enjoyed photographing couples, wedding photography might be your thing.
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    Look through your photographs and evaluate your best shots. You alone will know what shots you are most comfortable taking. Employers will want to know about your area of expertise just as much as you do.
    • Organize your best photos into a folder. Look at them with a critical eye.
    • Have you won awards or prizes for a certain style of photography? Label those and keep those at the top of the pile.
    • Make medium-sized prints of your best photos once you've shortlisted the best of them. Look at them once again and recall the emotions you felt when you took them.
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    Show your photographs to your peers or friends. Gauge their opinion. You will notice a pattern in their constructive feedback and get the fresh perspective you need on your strongest work.
    • Ask them plenty of questions as to why they like some photographs more than others.
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    • Request them to write down what they feel are your strongest and weakest skills as a photographer. This will help you develop better critical thinking skills
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    • Remember to thank them for their feedback and criticism. You might need their help in the future.
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    Tailor your resume to what you're good at. If you’re good at more than one areas of photography, choose one you would like to specialize and highlight in your resume.
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    Evaluate the pros and cons. Write down separately what you like and dislike if you can't decide what kind of photography you want a career in.
    • Some kinds of photography would require you to have an assistant and some might not.
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    • Some kinds of photography would require more specialized equipment. For example: If you're a nature photographer, you will need water-proof gear for your equipment.
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    • How good are you at networking? If you don't like meeting new people, commercial or fashion photography won't work for you.
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    • You will meet tantrum-throwing models or clients in the fashion industry. Decide if the money is worth dealing with them.
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Part 2
Writing the resume

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    This part can be broken up into four areas. Include your personal information, educational/professional experience, technical skills and a portfolio. Apart from the personal information, the rest needs to be articulated using the written word as well as your creativity (your portfolio).
    • Be honest with the information you volunteer. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot.
    • Only mention details that are relevant to the line of work you’re getting into as a photographer.
    • Consider mentioning volunteer work you may have done as a photographer in the past.
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    Write down your personal information. You name, address, email and phone number should be right at the top of the resume.
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    Detail your educational qualifications/degree/specialization, especially if it’s related to photography. If it’s not, that’s okay. Your employers will want to know about your background regardless.
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    Write down your professional experience in reverse chronological order (last job first). This will be the most important part of your resume, apart from your portfolio.
    • Clearly mention your experience in your previous jobs starting with the company name, your job title and the time you were employed.
    • Briefly describe your responsibilities while working there. For example, if you were a fashion photographer’s assistant, mention your experience with camera equipment, studio work, lighting, set design, bookings, etc.
    • Mention your expertise with editing software or photographic technique that you think will set you apart from the rest.
    • List all your published photographs. This must include the literature in which it was published and the date/month/year. Also include copies of your published work in your portfolio.
    • Make a list of any awards or prizes you’ve received in the past for your photography.
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    Include references or recommendation letters. Pick valuable people from within the industry to vouch for your skills and professionalism in the field. If they’ve worked with you in the past, their opinion as references will be well-respected.
    • Call or email your references first. Tell them about the job you're applying for and why you need their support.
    • Ask them if they prefer you give out their name or number or both.
    • List their name(s) in the references section of your resume along with their title, job designation, email and/or phone number.
    • Mention their relationship to you and the company you both worked at.
    • Only ask for references from people whose opinion will be relevant to the job you're applying for.
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    Check if your future employed requires a cover letter. In your cover letter, explain why you should be hired. This plus references will help you especially if you don't have substantial photography experience.
    • The cover letter should have a formal tone.
    • Don't write more than two paragraphs for the main body copy. The person hiring you shouldn't get overwhelmed.
    • If you're sending your cover letter by email, type it in the body copy of the email, unless specified otherwise.
    • If you're sending it by post, it should be placed before your resume.
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    Create a portfolio that demonstrates all the above skills, your personality and your creativity.

Part 3
Building a portfolio

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    Photography is a visual medium and prospective employers will want to see your body of work. Once you know what your job options are, make the portfolio you will take to your interviews. Present your portfolio in a way that matches the type of work you will be doing.
    • Scan through all the photos you’ve taken in your time as a professional photographer. You will need to select your most flattering work.
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    • Gather your resources to put together a great portfolio. If you feel your skills are limited, ask for help from a friend or pay a designer to teach you some tricks. It’s a one-time investment that you can improve on at any time.
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    • Make prints of your photographs to keep with you. Your interview could take place in an informal setting so having prints at hand will limit your need to reach for a computer.
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    • All your photographs should be high-resolution (more than 5 mega pixels) and be finished professionally. Ideal dimensions for a high quality print are 8x10 inches, 9x12 inches or 10x13 inches.
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    Create a web-based portfolio. Use the Internet to share your portfolio with an employer and your peers. You can also use a website to host your resume and just send a prospective employer the link.
    • You can buy a domain on the Web with the help of hosting sites such as, or
    • Select a website name and check if it’s available for you to use.
    • Blog hosting sites like wordpress, blogger and have ready-made templates for photographers wanting to host their portfolios online. You can either use a free design template or pay a fee to get advanced design options.
    • Use your website to showcase your creativity as well as your design skills.
    • Use social networking websites like tumblr, DeviantART and Flickr to post your photos online. Show prospective employers that your photos have been appreciated with the number of comments or “likes”.
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    Make a portfolio book. Every photographer should have at least one portfolio book with them to take to interviews. Employers could ask that you bring one to the interview so it's best to be prepared.
    • Have your personal details mentioned in your portfolio. Also add contact information, just as you would do with your resume.
    • Web businesses such as and will print and ship your portfolio to you as a hard-cover book.
    • Choose a specialized book for your portfolio. Your photos should be big enough to be appreciated. The book must ensure that the "flow" of photos is true to your talent and artistic sensibility.
    • Buy a simple binder for any extra photographs that did not make it into your portfolio.
    • Add captions for your photos when necessary. Sometimes the photo speaks for itself and you'll do more good if you leave it as is.
    • Print your portfolio at home on your printer. Make sure the printing is of high quality.
    • Look online for a local printer in your neighborhood that will print your portfolio for you.

Part 4
Sending your resume

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    Edit your resume before you send it. Even if you're pressed for time, you will need to clear this step before you hit send.
    • Update your resume the day before you send it. If you've learned any new photography skills or earned new achievements, check to see if you've added it to your resume.
    • Check if your resume is relevant to the job you're applying for. This will be easy to do if you know what your future employer will expect of you.
    • Make sure all the sections in your resume are clearly labeled. Highlight the important photographic achievements
    • Ensure that the content flows logically and is easy to read. You will have already done this with your portfolio so apply the same principles to your resume.
    • Typographical errors rarely create a good impression. Carefully run through the test to make sure there are no errors in spelling, grammar or syntax.
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    Ask your future employer how they'd like to view your resume/portfolio. Different employers could have a varied preferences so check to be sure. Once you know, you can use any of these following ways to send it to them.
    • Copy your resume and portfolio on a DVD or a flash drive. Create folders and label them before your mail it to your employer.
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    • If you're sending your resume/portfolio via email, write in the cover letter explaining what attachments the email contains along with the attachment file names.
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    • Employers sometimes prefer a resume and cover letter to be in a PDF format before it's sent or uploaded online. Adobe Acrobat is one such software you can use to change an MS Word document into a PDF file.
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    • Handing your resume over personally is the best way to let your personality shine. Make sure you take your resume and portfolio as well as DVD/flash drive of your work. Most employers might not want to keep a hard copy of your portfolio but they could ask you for some other form of it as well.
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    Wait a week before reconnecting with your future employer. This step applies only if they haven't told you when they will get back to you.
    • Thank your employer in a short email or handwritten note after you've completed your interview. Do this as soon as possible.
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    • Be available to your future employer by phone or email at any time after the interview. They could call you for a second or third round.
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    • Don't be pushy. If they tell you they will call you back, be patient.
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  • Organize your resume according to your strengths. If you are a recent graduate of a prestigious photography program, list your education credentials ahead of your experience. If you have worked closely with a famous photographer but you do not have a degree, keep education last and list experience first.
  • Make a good first impression. Try to make your resume as unique as your photography to increase your chances in the interview.
  • Think about presentation. Since you are working in a creative field, make sure your resume and biography reflects your artistic and creative talents. The layout and design should generate interest in you and your work.
  • Take precaution while posting your photos online. Make sure they're copyright protected, licensed under creative commons or watermarked to avoid them being misused.

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Categories: Photography