4 Things I Look For When Hiring a Photographer, Part 4
So far we’ve covered the first three criteria I use when deciding whether or not to hire photographers who contact me: the quality of their NGO photos, the quality of their captioning, and whether we can afford their day rate or not. The fourth and last criteria may be the most important, and I think it might surprise you…
CRITERIA 4: HOW EASY ARE YOU TO WORK WITH?
This criteria is way, WAY more important than you might think. A photographer can have the first three criteria in spades, but if the photographer is difficult to work with, I’m not likely to hire him or her.
It’s very simple. When I hire someone to shoot for one of our country programs, our staff is trusting that I’ll send someone who is respectful of our beneficiaries, respectful of our staff, abides by the directions of the staff and won’t cause problems. Our staff work really hard to build great relationships with the communities we work in, and we can’t have that jeopardized by a photographer who isn’t respectful of those relationships and who can’t get along with our staff.
I know of photographers who have berated staff and who are so intent on getting “the shot” at any cost that they’ve caused real and significant problems, in one case even ignoring repeated warnings by staff not to shoot in a high security situation. We just don’t need that, and given that there are many excellent NGO photographers who are indeed easy to work with, there’s no real reason to hire someone who isn’t.
WHAT IS “EASY TO WORK WITH?”
By “easy to work with,” here’s what I mean. A photographer who:
- Can handle rough travel conditions – that’s the norm in the field
- Can be flexible when plans fall through
- Is respectful of our staff, our beneficiaries and the local culture
- Will put the camera down when asked by staff
- Doesn’t have the attitude that we’re so lucky to have her or him shoot for us
- Doesn’t need to be hand-held through every stage of the trip
- Doesn’t spend a lot of time complaining
- Understands that the relationship with our beneficiaries are always more important than getting a great photo
Remember, competition is really tight for NGO jobs. There are plenty of excellent photographers out there who are easy to work with. With so many good photographers to choose from, why would I hire one that isn’t also easy to work with? It wouldn’t be fair to our country program staff.
So those are the four things I look for when hiring photographers. With competition for NGO shoots really tight, I hope you’ll consider these four criteria when you look at your own work and approach to shooting for NGOs.