The top ten graduate skills that recruiters look for are:
- Commercial Awareness
Commercial awareness is about knowing how the business works, knowing past and current trends, and anticipating upcoming trends. It is a skill that will improve with research as well as first hand experience. Pinterest is a good resource to discover trends in the market. I have used Pinterest to put together various mood or inspiration boards which help me not only to view what is currently trending but to have a collection of ideas and styles all in one place for if I ever get stuck.
- Communication Skills
This is a skill that I struggle with and I need to make it a priority to work on over the coming year. Even when I have a clear image in my mind of what I want to achieve, I often have difficulty relaying it to the people I’m working with. It is an essential skill, particularly with my field of study to have, and without it I feel it can be a hindrance on my abilities.
While I have often preferred to work alone, even in the studio where I have managed the camera, the lights, and the client without help, over the last year I have learned to accept that I do need help sometimes. I have now formed relationships and created a team dynamic where I am no longer managing everything alone. I have found the new experience more enjoyable since it now has much less pressure attached. There is great chemistry in the studio and we work well as a team.
- Negotiation and Persuasion
This is an area I feel pretty confident about. I have a vision for my work but I understand and respect my client may not always be on the same page. I always make a habit to show them my inspiration boards and to ask them their views and opinions, their preferences, and if they have any other suggestions.
- Problem Solving
I do a lot of this in the studio. Sometimes my lighting set ups aren’t too efficient. There have been times where the lighting has been really nice, but something has stopped them from firing all at once. One of my biggest issues is when the Infrared sensor has been blocked so it can’t trigger through the slave settings. I’ve had to combat this by having a low powered flash synced to the others, and aimed directly at the infrared sensor that isn’t firing. This is inefficient since it just takes so much room, and there’s a chance of excess light falloff, but in the moment it was the best I could do. I have since invested in some radio triggers that I can plug into each flash I’m using to avoid this problem again.
While I am good at working as part of a team, I am not a strong leader. This is something I need to work on especially as my professional practice grows. I need to develop leadership skills to direct my clients, and to direct my lighting assistants.
I’m not always the most organised person, but when I have a studio session planned, I am mostly completely organised. For the few times I haven’t been, I have walked away without any good results so I have learned it’s always best to be organised. I start planning the upcoming shoot in advance, from the lighting set ups, to discussing clothing options, and even discussing music tastes so I can set up a playlist. I make sure all of my equipment is in one place a day or two before I need it, making sure any batteries are charged and any SD cards are in the cameras (with spares in the bag).
- Perseverance and Motivation
Motivation is something I often struggle with, but when I am motivated, I see it through until the end. Once I find my momentum, it’s very hard for me to stop again. Finding it in the first place is the hard part, and something I need to work towards.
- Ability to Work Under Pressure
I have always found myself working better under pressure. Deadlines give me something to work towards, I find without them I am too relaxed and no work gets done.
This is something I only halfway possess. I am very confident with my camera and the technical side of photography. I can adapt to most situations quickly, I can learn new techniques and lighting set ups, I can learn Photoshop techniques and my confidence has grown in the darkroom, often preferring traditional techniques to contemporary. But my confidence is lacking in social situations. I find it difficult to work with new clients and I have a hard time directing them. This is a challenge I am working on overcoming over the next year.