Three Ways to Make Yourself Easy to Work With
When I worked on staff at a nonprofit and had the budget to hire freelancers, my main goal was to work with people who made my life easier. I thought of that a lot when I started running my photography and video business full-time. I try to be very easy to work with, but I also expect the nonprofit that hires me to be easy to work with, too. Here's my advice to people on both sides of the hiring aisle. ADVICE TO PHOTOGRAPHERS AND STORYTELLERS 1. Reply quickly to emails. This should be a given but you'd be surprised how many people don't do this. If you're really busy, then write a note saying you acknowledge receiving the email and you'll write a longer response later. If you're going to be busy for more than 24 hours, create an out-of-office auto response (here are some funny ones). 2. Be a problem solver. You've been hired not just because of your visual skills but because you will hopefully make life easier for the person who has hired you. Asking "What else do you need help with?" or saying "I'm happy to help with that" can make you that much more valuable to the hiring manager and the nonprofit. 3. Be in tune with the organization's vision. The organization likely knows what kinds of images and stories it wants for its marketing materials. It's your job to provide those images and stories. The nonprofit probably hasn't hired you for your artistic vision, so don't try to thrust it on them. Not to say that photographers are interchangeable, but frankly, there are many wonderful photographers who could do the job you're doing. ADVICE TO NONPROFITS 1. Understand this is a business relationship. Yes, of course you can become friends with photographers and storytellers -- we are fun people! But if you ask a photographer or storyteller to do any kind of work, you should expect that the person will want to be paid. Don't expect favors. Are you asking the person to do more than is written in the original scope of work? Acknowledge that. And of course, pay people on time. 2. Be organized. Create a shot list. Create a list of interview questions. Create a review committee who will give feedback on the photos/videos/stories. Create a production schedule and stick to it. Decide on your branding/messaging ahead of time. Being organized will help the photographer or storyteller you hire do a better job for you and your organization. It'll also make the person want to work with you again. 3. Be fair about copyright. Many nonprofits want to own the copyright to all pictures without fully understanding why. Do your homework and ask yourself if that's what your organization really needs. Be open to negotiation with a photographer regarding copyright ownership and photo licensing options. If your organization wants to own the copyright to the pictures shot by a freelancer, then you should expect to pay a copyright buyout fee. Do you have any advice for photographers or nonprofits? Please share them in the comments. Photo caption: Heather Rude-Turner, who lives in northern Virginia, depends on EITC (the earned income tax credit) to help support her husband and two children. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World.