The age-old saying says that a picture is worth a thousand words. When you’re applying for a photography job, you will — of course — share your professional portfolio with the hiring manager. However, you will often need to accompany this with a well-written photographer CV. The one-page document lets potential employers know all about your prior experience, your skill-set, and any specific qualifications you have under your belt.
You only get one shot to make the right first impression. If your portfolio is strong, the last thing you want is a CV that fails to tell your professional story. Recruiters spend a matter of seconds looking at each application that comes their way. Just like a jaw-dropping picture captures the imagination of the viewer, your application has to quickly pique their interest.
Here at Resume.io, we have all the resources you need to support your job search. You can expect expert writing guides along with CV examples. As if that weren’t enough, we’ve also got an easy-to-use CV builder to get your application looking picture-perfect. Ready to get started? Within this guide, we will be covering the following topics:
- What a photographer does (including tasks and duties)
- How to write a photographer application with a CV example
- The best layout for your photographer CV
- Help on how to write each section of your application
- Expert-backed design tips and hints to get you started.
What does a photographer do?
The simple answer, of course, is that a photographer takes pictures. However, there is more to this creative job than first meets the eye. Aside from pressing the shutter-release button and asking people to smile, here are some of the duties you may have to complete:
- Capture pictures of people, events, or objects
- Retouch and enhance imagery for clients
- Produce photography in different mediums (digital and print)
- Work closely with designers and printers
- Maintain photographer equipment
- Promote yourself to potential clients
Before you set your sights on a photography career, you need to know how it will affect your bank account. Here in the United Kingdom, photographers make an average of £24,450.78 per year, according to a report from Check-a-Salary.
Of course, the pay package you take home will depend on your level of experience and the industry. Should you choose to become self-employed, you may be able to increase your annual income. However, keep in mind that you will have to register with HMRC.
The world of photography is vast. The duties of a photojournalist will be strikingly different to that of a wedding photographer. When you have trained in this fast-paced field, you will need to choose your specialism. Rather than being a ‘Jack of all trades,’ decide which sector best suits your skill-set. That way, you can build up a robust portfolio for clients.
How to write a photographer CV
Before you start writing your photographer application, you need to know what you should include. Your CV should contain the following elements:
- CV header
- CV summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The CV skills section
- The education section
Including all of the above is a good place to start. However, if you want to create a photographer CV that turns heads, you need to do some research. As we have already mentioned, your role will vary dramatically depending on your specialism. So, first up, you need to delve into the industry and company for which you are applying to work.
Having a baseline understanding of the business — whether it’s a wedding photography agency or a publication — will help you immensely. Armed with this information, you can tailor your application to suit the needs of the employer. For example, if you are looking to work for an agency that specialises in animal portraits, you can emphasise any experience you have working with pets. The more specific you are, the better your chances will be.
Optimise your CV for the ATS!
The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of software that recruiters use when organising CVs. Think of it like the gatekeeper to a hiring manager’s desk. Before they even set eyes on your CV, it needs to get past the ATS.
Luckily, there’s a way that you can increase your chances of success. ATS software ranks CVs according to how well they meet the criteria. Take a look at the original job posting and highlight any key phrases. Use the same terminology throughout your CV.
Adopt a formal tone when writing your photographer CV. Regardless of the sector you’re applying to, you need to be professional at all times. Some photographers make the mistake of thinking that their portfolio will speak for itself. While that is true to some extent, hiring managers are not looking for amateurs. They need someone who they can trust.
If you’re looking for some extra inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Check out our CV example below to get those creative juices flowing:
Choosing the best CV format for a photographer
Choosing the right CV format needn’t be hard. Most of the time, you can adopt the reverse chronological approach. That means that you start with your most recent experience and qualifications at the top of the page. As you go down, work your way back in time. This option makes recruiters’ jobs simple as they can quickly see your most recent accolades.
Of course, there are other CV format options. If your photography experience has been sporadic — or you’ve done it on the side of another role — you may way to use the functional approach. This layout emphasises your skills over your work experience. Consider which option will work best for your circumstances. For more information, you can check out our CV formatting guide or take a look at our photographer CV sample.
CV summary example: set the scene
The CV summary is often the first thing that a potential employer will see. It sits neatly below the header on your application and is a short, professional introduction. Use these two or three lines to set the scene. You need to get straight in there with your strengths.
What is it that sets you apart from the crowd? Photography is a highly competitive field. You need to use everything in your arsenal if you want to land that all-important job. Consider what you have that other applicants may not. For instance, if you have a specific qualification or have won an award for your skills, you should mention it here.
Passionate and seasoned Photographer motivated to capture and deliver exceptional images to clients. Sporting a proven track record of achieving the highest levels of client satisfaction, culminating in the London Nature Photographer of the Year award in 2021. Adept in performing photo retouching, enhancement, and digital manipulation to deliver outstanding imagery.
Employment history sample: tell your story
Whether you have years of experience or have been working as a photographer on the side, your employment history tells your story. As we have already mentioned, you should use the reverse chronological approach when detailing this part of your CV.
Kick things off with the position, company, and years of employment. Once you’ve got that down, you can include some more information. You may want to bullet-point any key duties, achievements, or awards you received in the given role. Keep your sentences short and sweet. Ditch any sentences that start with ‘I,’ ‘I am,’ or ‘I have.’ Instead, cut right to the chase with what you did or achieved. Check out our CV sample for some inspiration:
Photographer, The Piermont Journal, London
March 2018 - Present
- Work with the Head of Creative to develop the journal's approach toimagery.
- Collaborate with 10+ clients per month to capture beautiful imagery.
- Deliver end-to-end shoots with precision and grace.
- Remain highly organised, flexible, and committed to client satisfaction.
- Set up lighting and composition for each shoot.
- Oversee 6 Junior Photographers to ensure strong team output and adherence to the journal's mission.
- Successfully integrate conceptual thinking with the materials and technical processes to achieve desired outcomes.
Junior Photographer, Cameron & Floyd, London
August 2012 - February 2018
- Photographed still life and product still life in-studio, as well as overseeing shoots on location.
- Performed editing, processing, retouching, color correcting, and archiving all files in an organised manner.
- Conducted photo research for features as needed.
- Worked directly with editors to maintain digital content across platforms.
- Assisted Senior Photographers during shoots for large campaigns multiple times per quarter.
- Effectively multitasked while maintaining excellent attention to detail.
CV skills example: highlight your talents
To win the job, you need to make sure that you have a robust skills section on your CV. Hiring managers want a photographer who can offer a full service. That means a professional who can not only take excellent photos but also edit and deliver them too.
When you’re listing your CV skills, be sure to throw in a mixture of hard skills and soft skills. For example, hard skills may include ‘advanced digital practices’ while soft skills could include ‘effective time management.’ Be clear about what makes you unique.
Stick to the 10,000-hour rule!
If you’re new to the world of photography, stick with it. Chances are, you won’t take the picture of your career in your first year. You may have heard the following quote.
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst,” said famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. No matter how talented you are, you can’t expect to be a pro overnight.
According to Casey Chinn, photographer and teacher of ‘Fundamentals of Photography,’ you need to spend at least 10,000 hours on the skill before you can master it.
- Advanced Digital Practices
- Excellent Communication
- Effective Time Management
- Functional knowledge of photographic history and theory
- Lighting Technologies
Photographer CV education example
If you are using the reverse chronological approach, you should list your education by date. However, it may be beneficial to list your qualifications in order of relevance. For example, if you have completed some photography training, you can put it at the top of the page. Your aim is to highlight any certificates that are specific to the role at hand.
Start by including your qualification, the board or institute, and the date you achieved it. Beneath that, you can add bullet points that cover any modules you took or honours you received. If you’re not sure how to get this part right, check our CV sample below:
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, SUNY at Purchase , Purchase, NY
September 20027 - May 2011
CV layout and design: first impressions
First impressions matter! When you’re putting your photographer CV together, there are some rookie mistakes you want to avoid making. Let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts:
- Include a link to your professional portfolio on your CV if it’s online.
- Keep it short and sweet. Make sure your application fits on one page.
- Pick one or two fonts to use throughout your CV.
- Try to cram your portfolio onto the same page as your CV. Attach it as a separate file or PDF document.
- Adopt an overly busy design. You don’t want it to look overwhelming.
- Use too much colour on your CV.
If you want to give yourself the competitive edge, don’t try to design your CV yourself. Use our field-tested CV templates and make the job super simple.
- Your photographer CV supports your professional portfolio. Make sure both are strong if you want to land your next job!
- You should research the company and adopt a formal tone when writing your CV.
- Focus on the skills you have learned and what you bring to the table.
- Using our easy-to-use CV builder will help you perfect your application quickly!