CHAPTER 12-: This is the twelfth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Photography Business.” – If you engage in constructive discussions with some of the more experienced entrepreneurs in the field of photography, you will quickly find out that these business owners are always concerned about finding the best employees for their business.

Whenever talking about the methodology that they adhere to in order to attain success, you will notice them stressing greatly on the importance of having a team of outstanding photographers. This may slightly confuse you, given the fact that business owners often emphasize on the need to have a cost effective budget and a stellar marketing strategy to make it big in the industry, but when it comes to entrepreneurs in the field of photography particular, most of them will tell you that the secret to repute, success and prosperity in this business lies in the hands of the photographers that they recruit.

Photography Skills are Indispensable to a Business

No matter how sharp your marketing skills are or how effective your budget planning is, at the end of the day, the only thing that will truly separate your business from the countless other establishments that are jostling in line for a greater market share is the quality and the calibre of the photographers who are working. There is no denying the fact that you will play an instrumental role as the owner and the entrepreneur in leading your business to the realms of success sooner rather than later.

However, you cannot ignore the significance of your photographers and the impact their works of photography have in the overall state of your business. Imagine a scenario where you are enjoying the fruits of a perfectly executed, dynamic marketing campaign, and you have in your hands a huge portfolio of clients who are craving to subscribe to your photography services. Now that you have the attention of your targeted audience, it may be very easy for you to assume that your work as a businessperson has been completed successfully. Quite on the contrary, your job is only half done, since the remaining 50% of your job deals with ensuring quality of the photographic services or products that you are providing to your clients.

Photographers Keep the Business Afloat

High quality and brilliance in products and services cannot be bought and it certainly does not appear out of the blue. It is something that you have to strenuously work towards achieving over the years, and it is something that you cannot expect to acquire overnight. As the owner of the business, you are left in charge of dealing with the operations of your organization and therefore you will have very little control over the level of quality in your photographic products and services. It is up to your photographers to make sure that the demands of the clients are met and their expectations are exceeded.

In other words, hiring stand out photographers is the only way of keeping your clients satisfied and thus it is the only method of guaranteeing long term success for your business. Without good photographers at your disposal, your photography business will simply crumble to pieces and you will be left bankrupt sooner than you can realize it. Being flamboyant with your marketing strategies and being clever with your budgeting activities are all highly encouraged, but none of these priorities should come in the way or hamper your plans of getting hold of the best photographers in the town to help you turn your photography business into a major success. Herein lies the trait of a wise, intelligent and proactive entrepreneur. You can have all the crazy business ideas in the world swirling in your head, but without excellent photographers to work for you, those plans can never be materialized.

  • Problems of Being Understaffed

Hiring photographers or recruiting photography personnel is certainly not an easy task to do. Sometimes, it proves to be so difficult that entrepreneurs put a halt to their recruitment activities and simply resume or commence operations with an understaffed organization. It is very important to make sure that your business is neither understaffed nor overstaffed. By having less workers than you need, you will be missing out on hundreds of clients that can come to your doorstep with highly lucrative contracts that could elevate your business to the next level.

In addition to that, having a very small workforce will exert additional pressure on the shoulders of your current line-up of photographers. Given the fact that you will be greedy to accommodate as many clients as you possibly can, you will often find yourself in a position where you are asking your employees to work double shifts and long hours in the week just to make sure that all the assignments from the clients are complete.

Although a good number of photographers thrive under pressure or are willing to take the burden of extra hours, most photographers who take pride in their art will be unhappy with your long working hours, and will become more susceptible to quitting and looking for other job positions in photography businesses that have more convenient working schedules. The last thing you need for your business is to have your best photographers walk out on you and join your competitors.

  • Problems of Being Overstaffed

As big a problem as being understaffed is, being overstaffed or having more workers than you require can turn out to be quite a nuisance and a waste of your precious business funds. Although it is always preferable to have a few extra hands lying around, you should still be careful not to hire workers who will hardly be called to action and used during the assignments of your clients.

Photographers do not usually come cheap, especially if they are well qualified (which you should be aiming for in your recruitment program), and therefore it makes very little sense for you to be paying highly qualified photographers for sitting in their homes and not contributing financially to your business. These redundant workers can often turn out to be as source of major financial losses.

What’s worse is that once you hire too many photographers, it becomes quite difficult for you to axe them or sack them, since employers and employees in small photography businesses develop a strong personal relationship that is hard to be severed even if the business owner is going through financial difficulties because of it.

A Well Planned and Systematic Recruitment Program

This is the reason why you have to have a very systematic approach towards recruiting photographers. As useful as recommendations may be, you cannot go around asking people for referrals all the time. You need to sit down in your office with your business partners or other trust employees that have been with you from the onset, and devise a full-fledged comprehensive recruitment program that is designed to hire those photographers who will best suit the dynamic of your business and those who can greatly contribute to the success of your business for a long time to come.

5 Ways to Identify Insincere and Amateur Photographers or GWCs

A recruitment program should include a thorough recruitment screening process and a detailed evaluation system that will allow you to filter out true professional photographers from those GWCs or guys with cameras. Given the nature of the profession of photography, it is often quite easy for people to pretend to be photographers and land themselves a spot in photography businesses. You need proceed with your recruitment program with extreme caution in order to avoid GWCs or guys with cameras and hire the crème of the crop in the photography industry. Here are 7 simple ways in which you can understand whether a photographer who is applying for a job position at your company is a GWC or not.

1) Understand the Nature and Motives of GWCs

If you want to filter out the GWCs or the amateur and untalented photographers, then you need to first analyze and understand the nature of such people. Why do you think these inexperienced boys or girls with camera apply for job positions at photography agencies like yours? Well, the answer to that question is quite simple. These people are looking to make some quick cash by working for your company. They certainly have no intention of working for you for an extended period of time.

Perhaps, a stint in a start-up company like yours will act as a stepping stone for them to be eligible for other bigger names in the industry. Most of these amateur photographers lack the basic skills that are needed to be a professional photographer. Needless to say, they have no prior experience as a student of photographer, whether it be in a school or through an online photography course. Most of them have probably never worked as an apprentice under another photographer.

Despite their lack of knowledge, expertise and experience, these so called photographers will knock on your company’s door and claim that they are generating a decent income by working by photographing models. How do they do that? Well, they simply take shortcuts in the field of photography. Most of their earnings stem from photographing semi-nude or nude “models” that are in high demand in certain sections of the industry. Therefore, it is imperative that you do not become fooled by the bank statement of these guys with cameras. Just because they are making good money does not mean that they are legit photographers, and it certainly does not give you the license to hire them and reimburse them handsomely.

2) Ask for a Portfolio

Much can be derived about the skill lever and expertise of a photographer from his or her portfolio. Usually, when photographers are presenting their portfolio or collection of works for a job application, they select the best photos that they have taken in their lives. As the owner of a photography business, you should have in depth knowledge of how to judge a photographer based on the portfolio that he or she provides. By looking at the portfolio, you should be able to easily identify a true professional from a GWC. You are always advised to take those photographers into special consideration who have experience in a line of photography that is similar or the same as the line of photography that your business is based on.

In the case that you come across portfolios that are filled with fashion models, mostly semi-nude fashion models, you should immediately start conjuring up suspicious about the legitimacy of the job applicant. In addition to that, if the portfolio reflects poorly on the calibre and the quality of the photographer, then you have every reason to believe that your company is dealing with a GWC or an amateur photographer who is simply looking to make an entry into the business through smooth conversations. You do not have to be an acclaimed judge of photography to tell good photography from bad photography. As long as you are aware of the basic, you should have no problem in identifying a GWC from his or her portfolio.

3) Conduct a Thorough Background Check

Your company should be conducting thorough background checks when assessing the credentials of each and every single employee candidate. Although most of task associated with a background check should be carried out by your recruitment staff, there are certain areas that necessitate your involvement. One of the things where you need to get yourself personally involved in is contacting the previous establishments, agencies, companies and clients that the job applicant has claimed to work for. Do not leave it to your employees to simply get in touch with a client or an agency. It is very easy for trickster photographers to arrange for fake personalities as receivers on the end of the phone calls.

Assessing the legitimacy of the clients or the agencies which your job applicant has worked for is a very simple evaluation technique that must not be overlooked under any circumstances. Sometimes, GWCs become quite irritated and resentful upon being asked to provide a list of the clients that they have worked with. Genuine photographers would hardly hesitate to mention the names of their clients, but the pretentious ones are likely to come up with excuses based on how important it is protect the private information of their clients. If you are dealing with such a job candidate, it is always preferable to not get back to them and look for better prospects who have a more transparent history.

4) Notice the Body Language

A lot can be said about a photographer from his or her body language. Although observing the body language is nowhere near as important as asking for a portfolio or conducing a background check, this is still an essential step towards understanding whether the job applicant has what it takes to be a star photographer in your company. The real photographers who are worthy of being categorized in the crème of the crop group are ones who possess laudable body language that exudes a positive aura and gives you an insight into their proficiencies.

In the case of GWCs or unpolished photographers who are looking to break into the industry, you will notice that their body language makes them come off as awkward, unprepared, uncomfortable and untrained. Look for subtle movements that suggest that the photographer in question lacks the capability of being a true professional. For example, if the person does not know how to operate a technologically advanced camera, fit in lenses and swap them, operate a tripod or lighting equipment, then it’s a clear indication that you have need for the person in your photography company.

There will be cases when genuine photographers who show up for interviews or demonstrations will crumble under the pressure and become unbelievably nervous. Therefore, you need to be careful about not judging a candidate entirely on the basis of their behaviour and body language. Even then, there will be a distinct difference between the body language of an amateur photographer and that of a nervous professional photographer.

5) Assess the Academic Qualifications

Most good photographers hail from reputed photography schools or have experience learning the art from a veteran photographer or via an online photography course. Therefore, when you come across candidates who do not possess an academic background, you are within your right to become slightly skeptical about the credentials of the photographer in question.

More often than not, photographers who show up for interviews without any academic qualifications to boast about are GWCs who are trying to trick you into believing that academic qualifications should not be used as an criteria to evaluate photographers. Most recruiters would give preference to those photographers who have some degree of academic experience of qualification, but with that being said, it is important that you understand that academic experience is not a must for a photographer to be worthy of praise and repute.

There are plenty of genuine, hardworking and talented photographers who lack academic qualifications. These are your self-made photographers, and although most of their stories sound a little too dramatic to be true, you can take comfort in the fact that a lot of photographers can become hugely successful without the assistance of an academic institution.

As a result, it is important that you learn to differentiate between GWCs who chose not to enrol in academic institutions and underprivileged photographers who never had the financially ability to be a part of an academic institution. The two scenarios are worlds apart, and although they may seem similar on paper, it is up to you, as the chief recruiter knows the subtle differences among candidates who have no academic background. It is worth noting that GWCs will often show up for interviews with counterfeit certificates of well reputed academic institutions. Make sure that the recruitment team that you have hired to conduct background checks takes a close look at the authenticity of all academic certificates provided by the job applicants. If needed, get in touch with the academic institutions and ask them to verify the status of the job applicants.

  • Forming a Balanced Team

Filtering the good photographers from the bad ones isn’t the only thing that your recruitment team be concerned about when hiring staff for your photography business. You also need to bear in mind the importance of creating a balanced photography team when recruiting photographers. A well balanced and carefully picked photography team should include a perfect mix of young ambitious photographers and experienced veteran photographers.

In other words, you need to match youthful exuberance with veteran wisdom in order to set up a photography team that can rival any other photography unit in the industry that you are involved in. By collaborating experienced photographers with young generation photographers, you will be implementing an ingenious strategy towards creating a sustainable employment system that will benefit you and your photography business for years to come.