Personality Traits & Skills Photo Buyers DON’T Want in Photographers

Personality Traits & Skills Photo Buyers DON’T Want in Photographers

It’s time to stop guessing what photo buyers want and find out the truth: what personality traits and business skills do they look for in the photographers that they hire?

To get the answer to this question and more, we went straight to the source – the image buyers, photo editors, and creatives themselves. In fact, PhotoShelter has partnered with Agency Access for the second year in a row to survey over 1,000 buyers worldwide to find out what photo buyers want – and what they really don’t want – from photographers.

The result is the 2012 Survey: What Buyers Want from Photographers, packed with key insights to help photographers improve their marketing efforts, enhance their brand, and – most importantly – get hired.

Who are the survey participants?

Personality traits & skills buyers DON’T look for:

We asked buyers, “What makes working with a photographer a negative experience?” Many photo buyers responded that obstacles occur when a photographer’s ego gets in the way. (The word “ego” was often replaced with “diva” or “prima donna.”) On top of a photographer’s bad attitude, here’s a list of traits that can cause a buyer to look elsewhere for talent:

Personality traits & skills buyers DO look for:

We also asked, “What makes working with photographers a positive experience?” Photo buyers let us know loud and clear: attitude matters. Excellent photography skills are important, but a successful shoot often comes down to a photographer’s personality. Are they problem solvers? Can they work well with others? Are they professional and approachable? When it comes to getting rehired, personal skills are king. Here are a few of the top characteristics they look for in a photographer:

A few words of wisdom from the buyers:

“Every shoot is a group effort, so you have to be willing to give and take. Adaptation is a very important skill to master.” ~Photo Editor, Editorial Publication

“I look for a friendly, easygoing and positive attitude. Someone who is straightforward in their communication style, can take constructive criticism, and work in a collaborative and adaptable way.” ~Art Designer, Book Publisher

Responsiveness and a sense that we can rely on them to get the job done in a timely manner is key. It also helps that they can work with other people in a friendly way, even under stressful conditions.” ~Art Director, Advertising Agency

Want more insights and tips to help you get hired?

The 2012 Survey: What Buyers Want from Photographers breaks down communication barriers between photographers and their potential clients so you can gather concrete feedback on what works. Find out more about how buyers want to be pitched, if they actually use social media to find new photographers, and what makes for a compelling websites that can get you the job. Use these stats, trends, and insider tips to connect with buyers and grow your photography business.

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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. TC Reiner at 3:17 pm


    Love the blog and timely information it gives to photographers. Naturally, all business people prefer to avoid drama, however it’s a two way street. Not every photographer is an artist, so the degree of passion will vary as will the degree of resistance to objectionable business terms.

    These days there’s often an attitude of take it or leave it when someone wants to hire you or license an image. Let’s include that in the discussion.

    For example, too many calls often begin with “we don’t have much of a budget” or the client only has “x” dollars to spend. Are you willing to work with us.

    In a brick and mortar business, you can certainly provide a product at a lower cost by using less expensive materials that may wear out sooner. Nothing personal!

    However, asking an artist to cut corners is definitely more personal and is no different that telling a company employee that their next check will be a little lower because the company has to cut expenses to maintain its PROFITS. I doubt that such an act would be met without some serious uproar, rudeness, and inefficiency going forward.

    Years ago, artists didn’t prostitute themselves so easily as today. The digital revolution encourages some (mostly untrained) photographers to sell out simply “for the money” because they view a few hundred dollars as a lot more money than they would make at McDonald’s. They don’t think about editing time or usage or retirement one day.

    An artist finds it difficult to put out a substandard product, although few might notice, making the situation even more exacerbating. They resist giving their time and creative energy away for less than a fair value. At that point, they may appear difficult. Try to see the other side of this and imagine that artists who happen to use the medium of photography need inspiration and they need to feel respected by the industry they serve.

    A photographer in the commercial realm requires the same dedication as any professional and should be treated accordingly.

  2. Rob Shanahan at 3:44 pm

    Hi Lauren, thanks for the great article, good to know I’ve been conducting myself properly!
    For striking photography, please check my website, and I can be interesting for blog feature :).
    Currently promoting my new book “Volume 1” with foreword by Ringo Starr. Also interesting, my facebook page at Rob Shanahan Photography! Always doing great events, photo shoots and speaking engagements… working on B&H workshop coming up… may be good to tie it all in with a Photoshelter feature! warm regards…Rob

  3. Edward Carlton at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the great information. Could you do a future article about proper pricing and business practices for new photographers? Also, perhaps Rob could add some business tips. Just blatantly promoting yourself here is so Facebook.

  4. James Van Nguyen at 5:22 am

    I’ve been a Wedding Photographer for 2 years now. But a personality trait I have that I don’t like is that I’m generally quite shy.
    It doesn’t seem to rub off negatively to the job but it’s just one of those things I wish I didn’t have. It makes me hopeless at small talk.

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