Last updated on December 12th, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Photographer at work with his cameraPhotographers, just like most other artists, will typically prefer a freedom of a freelancing career.

But not everyone wants to deal with advertising, searching new clients, online marketing, purchasing new equipment, and other duties that necessarily belong to a career of a freelance photographer.

Some people prefer to have a job. Get a place and time, arrive, and make the pictures. Simply not bother with anything else than the core of their art.

What is more, even freelancers will often find themselves interviewing for a job–especially when they look to establish a long term partnership with a bigger clients, such as a publishing house, marketing agency, or other businesses.

What will happen in this interview? What questions will they ask you? And what will make the difference at the end?

We will try to find the answers in this article.


Portfolio–the cornerstone of your success

In many other careers, portfolio is a nice bonus, something that can help you win a job contract. In photography it is a must. Unless you have a great portfolio in your interview, that means a collection of your best pictures, ideally relevant to the job you try to get, it makes no sense to leave your house and travel to the interview at all.

Let’s suppose you have the portfolio (and if you do not, make one before progressing with reading this article). The next step is preparing for a questions you may face while talking to the prospective employer/client. Let’s have a look at some of them.


Man tries to explain his motives in an interview, using his hands to help him to get the mesage over.What motivated you to apply for this job offer?

Perhaps you applied because you like the suggested payment, or the setting you will shoot at. Nevertheless, you should focus mostly on other things in your answers.

Say them that you have experience with similar photo shoots, that you have all the necessary equipment to make great pictures in a given scenario.

You may also compliment them (honest compliment will never hurt in an interview), saying that you are impressed with the work of their agency/publishing house, and that it will be a pleasure to work for them. One way or another, they should feel that you do not apply just because you need to earn money.


What is your availability?

If you apply for a job with a local newspaper, or a local agency, one of the most important things for them will always be your flexibility. They may often call you in a last minute, sometimes in the evening, or even in the night, and ask you to follow one of their reporters to make pictures.

Of course, you should not promise them something you can not fulfill. If you have children, or work with some other clients, or if you basically do not want to work in the night, you should clearly explain your (in)availability.

But if you are still living on your own, and consider this an important opportunity, you can tell them that you are available anytime they need you. If you have a car, mention it in your answer.


What equipment do you have?

A good answer to this question depends on the person who interviews you, and the situation. When they have little knowledge of photography and technical terms, you better avoid excessive terminology in your answer. Just describe your best camera, and the lenses and filters you have, and ensure them that you are ready to capture great pictures in all situations.

When you talk to a technician, head photographer, or anyone else who understands photography, you can go into technical details. Show them that you are serious about your work, and understand the latest equipment and technique.


What are your salary expectations?

Two hiring mangers looked dazed, they are not happy with the interview answers of their candidate.Photographer is not a bank teller, manager, teacher, or a cashier. There is nothing like a standard starting salary for this job, and the averages do not really matter when we speak about particular orders and contracts.

The best thing you can do in this case is asking them to make the first offer. Tell them that you do not know what their budget is, and how many hours they will need you, and what work you will be supposed to do after the shooting.

Now two things can happen. Either they make the offer (which is great, since you can react to it, giving an explanation why you need them to pay you more, or basically just accepting the offer), or they will describe the details of the deal and ask you to make an offer.

Be careful with your proposal in the second situation. Most people can’t tell a good photographer from an excellent one. Many times they will hire the one who makes them the best offer. That’s just the reality of 21st century and tight budgets…

Perhaps this is a crucial contract for you, something that will help you greatly in your career of a photographer, something that will shine on your portfolio. In such a case you should ask for less, and accept even the offer that is below your standards. Think also about the future–having this contract can pay off big time in a year or two.


Other questions you may get in your photographer interviewer

  • Do you have any experience with photographing this or that [situation, scene, etc]?
  • How do you imagine the cooperation with editors and other staff members? What do you expect from them?
  • Describe your most and least successful experience with photography.
  • Have you studied photography? If not, why?
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of the other job applicants?

Special Tip: Download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

photographer interview questions, PDF


Interview for a job of a photographer can hardly be compared to any other job interview. You may get only a few questions, or even no questions at all–if your portfolio is convincing enough, and if they do not interview other people for the same position.

Prepare for the questions, and learn how to present your work (with the help of your portfolio) in a right way, so the employer can see the value you can bring onboard once they hire you.

And think also about the future. Maybe you won’t earn as much as you originally expected in this job, but just seeing your name on the pages of that newspapers, or webpages of that particular advertising agency, will open you doors to other, more lucrative contracts and deals. We wish you good luck! – Your best job interview coach since 2011

May also interest you:

  • Tell me about yourself interview question – The most typical interview question all around the world. Hr managers use it mostly in screening interviews, in the first rounds of interviewing process.
  • Why should we hire you? Learn how to identify the value you can bring to the company, and how to demonstrate it in your interview. According to statistics and number of google monthly searches, no other question attracts as much attention as this one.
  • Job interview tips – Advice that will help you to understand how to ace your interview.

Matthew Chulaw
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