If you’ve been reading my blogs for the last few years, you’ll know that I’m quite passionate about education, but really don’t enjoy handing information over on a silver platter, just because it is asked. A professional photographer can always tell when it’s ‘Student Assignment” Season, when the flood of requests for all the same questions come in. Why did you choose your genre? How long have you been in the industry…? All of them come as emails from my Contact page, and almost all of them are sent in the early hours of the morning, telling me that the senders are pulling all-nighters to get their assignment done before the deadline. Some are polite and understanding. Some are rude and arrogant. Most are lacking basic punctuation, spelling and professional courtesy. None of them give me any hope for their ability to think for themselves, to put forward a nicely-worded questionnaire that’s respectful of my time. It’s largely just ‘gimme gimme gimme, I have an assignment due and I need your response ASAP.” Sorry brah, a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
Lecturers / Educators: Please note; I’m not against you setting these questions for students to contact professionals and interpret their answers. I’m sure you all give the students plenty of notice for their assignments. Maybe you could switch up the format each year? Maybe we could come in and show the students what we do? Maybe there’s a small lesson on professional etiquette and networking to be had, before they’re unleashed on busy photographers? Let’s break down the many things I had an issue with, and thus, after several of these this week, broke my ability to care about these kinds of requests. What course are you studying? How did you find me? Give me a little bit of a return, did you find me on google, a friend recommended you, a relative knows me…? Do they teach professional networking skills and etiquette, basic manners even? Do you even punctuation?
“Hello Mel, I’m currently doing a Photography course in TAFE and trying to finish up some last minute assignments. How long they have been operating? How did they get their start in photography? What brands/equipment do they use? Do they shoot a variety of studio/indoor outdoor? How does this effect their style? How do they remain current/up to date in today’s market? Do they travel a lot for your work? What is their favorite part of their job? Cheers man, points for copying direct from the assignment brief. I didn’t realize my name was They and Their. I pulled this guy up on his tardiness for his deadline, and for copying the questions and not personalizing them. “Hi Mel sorry for copy/pasting the questions. I had already found the answers I could but since I couldn’t find everything I decided to start from blank and let you answer them in your own words that way everything is up to date and correct.
If you don’t have the time I understand completely. Again, a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. Grovelling isn’t going to help you. I was once a Uni student, and a TAFE student. I managed to get things in on time. “Hi Mel, my name is (person) and I am studying a (diploma/certificate of coursetitle) and I found your website on Google. I’m wondering if you have the time to help me answer some questions that I am required to ask of an industry professional. My deadline is (date) and I’d really love to include your responses in my assignment, as I really enjoy the colours and subjects you portray in your work. What’s the favorite part of your job? What was is the most difficult thing about staying current in your industry? Thanks so much for your time, I look forward to hearing your responses.
Now if I had of received that email above, I’d be more than happy to reply, because those questions bring me a level of happiness that someone cares about my time too. It offers me a fun question to answer and a serious one. So since I know these two aren’t the last, I’ve written this blog. And it all boils down to this. I’m not going to write all of your next assignment. I’m going to teach you how to fish. Name, location: Info and about page has it covered. Style, genre: Have a look at my Galleries, if you have eyes, you’ll figure it out. How long they have been operating? How did they get their start in photography? What brands/equipment do they use? Do they shoot a variety of studio/indoor outdoor? How does this effect their style? This one is for YOU to answer, not for you to put forward to the photographer to ask!