What Photographers Shouldn’t Do When Contacting A Photo Editor

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All images by Jeff Wasserman. Used with permission.

Jeff Wasserman is the Photography and Multimedia Editor for the National Post; one of the major newspapers in Canada. He’s one of the rare editors who walks the line, by day he’s an Editor but by night he shoots stock food photography. Considering the position he’s in, he understands both sides of the editor/photographer wall quite well.

And from what he tells us, it’s all about honesty.

Phoblographer: What are five things that any photographer shouldn’t do to an editor the first time around?

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Jeff:

1. Do not send me an email with a bunch of images unless requested.

2. Do not call me cold. Always email. I am simply too busy to be fielding these calls.

3. Do not lie. Don’t make up things. This will always catch up to you.

4. Do not try and show me your entire life’s work. Your portfolio should always be a tight edit.

5. Do not use Facebook as a professional approach. My email is easy to find.

Phoblographer: What do you feel is the most effective form of communication when trying to pitch to an editor: setting up a meeting in person, email, snail mail, or the phone?

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Jeff: I always prefer first contact to be via email with a link to a website. My time and the photographer’s time are valuable and we both don’t have any to waste with phone or personal contact unless there is the possibility of working together in the future. Someone may have a great portfolio or experience, but not be the right fit for us.

Phoblographer: When making a pitch to an editor and besides having their portfolio ready, what do you think a photographer should have prepared?

Jeff: It’s always great to have a story to tell. By this I mean your professional story and how you came to be here today. Any interesting bits about your background or experiences shooting are always a nice touch. I want to get a sense of the kind of person I am dealing with and need to be confident that they can handle the situations they will be in. Our assignments range from celebrity portraits to hard news and it really does take a certain type of photographer to be able to handle a such a wide range of shooting situations.

And please, have a business card. A surprising number of people I see fail to bring one.

Phoblographer: When photographers pitch themselves, how can someone show that their project or them personally can help provide value to your readers?

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Jeff: Be relevant to the publication you are pitching. So often, it becomes clear that the photographer does not read the publication or has not done any research on it. It’s important to understand the publication you are pitching to and who their target audience is. A photo editor does not select solely on the basis of personal taste, although this does play a role. We need to be thinking of what works for our publication and think in this broader scope when assigning and selecting images.