Photographer Résumé Tips
Whether you’re revamping your photography website or putting in a bid on a new photography gig, it’s probably time to update your photographer résumé. You might even want to start over from scratch. If you’re just starting out or even if you have been shooting for a while, you want to highlight your experience clearly and call attention to your most relevant and impressive accomplishments. In her 2015 Photographer’s Market article “Building a Photography Résumé,” artist Deborah Secor will show you how to do just that. Read an excerpt below, or read the complete photographer résumé article on ArtistsMarketOnline.com.
Keep creating and good luck!
Building a Photography Résumé by Deborah Secor
Learn how the written word can raise your visual career to new heights.
When you envision a résumé, do you think of a stodgy, statistical document printed on conservative cream-colored paper? The fact is, today most photographers display their achievements online, which showcases the information to more people than ever before.
This ever-changing record of your career should present a quick, vital summary of your credentials. Meanwhile, a well-written print résumé may still prove critical when submitting bids for projects.
Regardless of the delivery vehicle—online or print—your résumé is an important tool for sharing your credentials and moving your photography career forward.
LIST YOUR MILESTONES
To begin, keep a master list of your photography-related career accomplishments, often called a “curriculum vitae.”
• Keep up to date. Make a habit to update it whenever your work is accepted into a show or exhibition, wins a prize, or is featured in a publication; you gain signature membership in a society; or you reach any other photography-specific benchmark. From this ever-lengthening master document, you’ll then be able to select the most useful—and important—events to feature on your résumé.
• Categorize. Create logical categories on your master list: Education, Clients and Campaigns, Shows and Exhibitions, Awards and Honors, Representation, Commissions and Collections, Bibliography; Teaching Positions, Related Professional Activities, and Forthcoming Exhibitions. You may decide to organize your master document chronologically. Whether itemizing entries under your category headings or organizing your master document chronologically (with the most recent events first), succinctly describe each listing, including location and date. The date of each entry may be listed either at the beginning or end of the line.
. . . .
The most difficult part of writing a résumé is getting started.
• Begin with the facts. List your name, address, phone number, e-mail, and website URL. You may forego these details in an online résumé. In this day of free websites, be sure you have at least a basic web page that shows clear images of your photographs and lists your contact information.
• List formal education. If you’re still in school, give your expected date of graduation. If you have no formal training, you could include language such as “self-educated photographer, working as a part-time professional since 2011.” Don’t mention other education unless it relates directly to your photography career. List any classes or workshops you’ve taken with credible regional or nationally known photographers.
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Your résumé is meant to be a flexible document, not one written in stone. An effective résumé highlights and concisely presents the most relevant information for your intended audience.
For instance, you may be given a chance to submit your work to a gallery in a distant locale where you’d like to show your paintings. In most instances, to determine what to include, think like a gallery owner. What details about your work would she want to share with her customers? Most likely it will be your art education, recognizable national shows, and any significant awards you’ve received or articles that have been written about you. Local connections will carry little weight.
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START WHERE YOU ARE
When you’re in the early stages of your photography journey, there may not be much to say that’s strictly related to your work; however, compiling a résumé may help motivate you to set goals for the future. It’s important to think of yourself as a rising professional.
When working on your résumé, avoid padding it with overly descriptive language or referring to an instructor’s credentials. When you’re just starting out, one or two solid entries listed in a category will be sufficient.
Regardless of your experience level, approach your photography résumé as a tool to promote your career—and yourself—in the most effective way possible.
Deborah Secor is a pastel artist and teacher as well as a longtime contributor to Pastel Journal magazine.