Photojournalism Application

September 23, 2011

Hey everyone,

I’ve been applying for photojournalism jobs since I got home to Texas in early August, but haven’t had much luck. In-fact, just recently the Dallas Morning News laid off 38 people, two of them photographers.

It’s late September and I’m still unemployed, and while I’m applying to publications seeking still photographers, I’m not having much luck. Newspapers in particular are in the business of laying off photographers and journalists, not hiring them. And even finding one position available? Well, it’s not easy.

So, I started to focus on a unique approach regarding my application process. With so few jobs, and lots of applicants, I wanted my portfolio to really stand out. It’s important to me that my portfolio makes an impression to a potential employer, that everything is neat and organized, and that everything works. When my CD is loaded onto a photo-editor’s computer (assuming they even have the time to look at it), it’s going to work, because I tested it here at home on both my Mac and Windows PC.

With that having been said, let me tell you a little about my approach that helps give my portfolio a personalized experience.

Firstly, most of the supplies I’m using can be purchased from Office Max. They include:

  • 1 Binder
  • 1 Business Card
  • 1 Resume – 3 pages printed on heavy weighted paper
  • 1 Handwritten Note
  • 1 CD-R w/ portfolio folder (.jpeg images) & .PDF resume on disc
  • 1 CD-R label
  • 1 Paperclip
  • 1 CD-R paper holder (Best Buy, package of 50)
  • 1 Fed-Ex or cardboard shipper
  • 1 8×12 Image
  • 1 Contact Sheet (Containing thumbnails of the .jpeg images on the disc)

The first thing I do is print a shipping label which I designed through the Avery online software. It includes my name, title, website, email address and phone number. I place this sticker centered on the front middle of the binder wherein all of my application materials will go. Then, I take my business card and place it in the pre-cut area of the binder so that it’s one of the first items the photo-editor sees when they open it. Next, I take one of my 8×12 images and place it on top of all my materials so that it’s the first thing the photo editor sees once they’ve opened the binder. The idea is to make a strong visual impact with one of my images, behind which I place all of my application materials. Additionally, I place another shipping label on the back of this image so that my name and information is attached to it.

Next, I place my CD with a custom-made label inside of CD-R paper holder behind the 8×12 image. The white paper holder is a nice clean look and allows easy access to the CD-R, where both a portfolio folder of my 20 best .jpeg images and a .PDF file of my resume has been loaded. The folder is named ‘Stephen Masker Portfolio’, and the PDF is named ‘Stephen Masker Resume’ so that they can be clearly identified when they are viewed. As I mentioned before, I test every CD before shipping it on both my Mac and Windows PC to ensure that the disc is readable.

Then, I write a handwritten note about two paragraphs long on a vanilla parchment paper that thanks the editor for reviewing my materials and expressing my interest in the position. I also write my contact information and ask that they please contact me should they have any questions or need any additional materials, then end the note with my signature.

Behind the handwritten note is a contact sheet containing all 20 thumbnails of the images found on the CD-R. It’s also custom made through Photoshop Cs5 and contains my contact information as well. Behind the contact sheet is my cover letter formatted with a custom font and font size, and contains an image in the top-right corner faded to 70% opacity. Behind the cover letter is my CV printed on a heavier stock paper. The hand written letter, contact sheet, cover letter and resume are all paper clipped together.

Total cost per package, including shipping, averages approximately $15.46. A small price to pay for a career as a photographer.

I’ll be posting a video soon of my kit, so be sure to check back again soon for updates.

Thanks, and good luck.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply markkalan September 23, 2011 at 1:38 AM

    I applaud your efforts but you are mired in trying to be “special”. Nothing personal but you need to understand that today, NOBODY WANTS YOU!

    Keep shooting on your own and notify editors if you’ve got a local newsworthy story.

    Have a great website and update it monthly. Send emails to potential employers quarterly, with a link to your website and “Website Update” in the subject line. Maybe get a list.

    Also, your resume CV should be longer than one page.

    Also go to work for a wedding photographer. Photojournalism is the “new” look in wedding photography. There will always be weddings and the guys near me are getting $500 as second shooter and $1000 as primary shooter.

    • Reply Stephen Masker October 5, 2011 at 9:16 PM

      Maybe if they don’t want me today they’ll want me tomorrow. Whatever it takes.

      Quarterly emails is an idea I’ll pay some attention to. My CV is three pages – know that your CV length doesn’t really matter unless its sustenance. Don’t fill it with crap.

      Keep shooting.

    Leave a Reply