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You'll graduate from your photography program with an impressive degree, many classes' worth of valuable information, hours of hands-on experience, a camera in your hand, and not much cash left in your pockets. It's time to put all those hard-earned assets to the test and find yourself a job to pay the bills. Where do you start?
Not in the camera film sense, but as a way of getting your name out there. As more and more photographers work freelance or on a contract-by-contract basis these days, you'll often find yourself selling your talents to clients who are looking for a very specific creative style. What better way to get exposure than to make sure that your photographers are out there for the public's viewing pleasure? Try to get examples of your pieces up in galleries, published in newspapers and periodicals, or even on your own website. You may not always get paid for it, but simply having your photographs on display will increase your opportunities for attracting clients.
Perhaps you'd like a more aggressive approach to getting job offers. Maintaining an active role among important social circles and photography networks is key in finding clients. Keep up a dialogue with acquaintances in the field, including prominent professors, fellow students, recent graduates, and alumni who might have had a hand in helping fund your college's new library or studio. Friends in related fields don't hurt either-you never know when your graphic designer neighbor might be looking for a photograph for his next poster project, or your old roommate wants profession photographs of her paintings for an art contest. For the professional networking circuit, try joining photography organizations, both local, national, and international.
In the end, though exposure and networking certainly increase your opportunities for finding work, the best way is still to go to people looking to hire. Flip through the classified section of your local newspaper, run through various online job-search websites, and scour local portrait studios, newspaper offices, and photography firms for possible employment. Remember that starting smaller increases your chances of securing a position-famous national corporations who put out ads in every state will make competition that much stiffer for you.
The search for a photography job opportunity is only a fraction of the work. Once you've submitted your resume and been asked to come in for the interview process, it's time to really step up to the plate and show your potential employer what you're capable of. Here's how to build your photography portfolio.