I’m now reviewing applications for an opening on our photo staff. Which means it’s time for another rant about applications, cover letters and portfolios.
See my previous rant here.
This time, however, I’m not as mad as when I wrote that previous job applicant-related post. Still, I’ve got a few random thoughts for those looking for work as a staff photographer at small- to mid-sized daily newspapers.
-When writing your cover letter at least take the time to include the name of the person to whom you’re sending the letter. “To Whom It May Concern” shows me you don’t care enough about the job application to take five or 10 minutes to change the salutation on your cover letter.
-If you’re going to include a photo of a color run, a rodeo or a candlelight vigil, that’s fine. But please show me something different, something which demonstrates your ability to see (and photograph) beyond the obvious. But remember, you’re applying to work as photojournalist, not a fine art photographer so there needs to be news content that readers and viewers can understand. We’re selling news, not art here.
-Your portfolio should be your very best work and it should be tightly edited. I’d rather see 15 images that rock than 30 images, only some of which are really good. Have several people review your portfolio. Have at least one other professional photographer whose opinion you respect along with a non-professional look at your portfolio.
-I appreciate that you’ve travelled the world and made photo stories on the Sherpa of Nepal, a Buddhist funeral and a traditional Thai wedding. I’m jealous of some of the applicants and the interesting trips they’ve taken. I believe it’s important to travel as much as possible, that travel informs our world view and adds perspective and balance to our lives. What I’d rather hear (and see) is that you’ve gone to a less well-known part of your neighborhood, your city or your county and documented the people and their lives there. Great photo stories can happen in our backyards and I want to see those home-grown stories. Those are the sort of stories we photograph. I’m pretty sure the Yakima Herald-Republic has never sent a photographer to Nepal.
-Please take the time to look closely at our newspaper’s web site. Look at our coverage area and the demographics of this area. Learn a little something about us before asking us for a job.
Okay, I’ve got to make the usual disclaimer in case my boss thinks I’ve gone off the deep end. “The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Herald-Republic.” Or something like that.