Resumes are essential in any profession, and photography is no exception. Like a cover letter, your resume should be tailored to your audience, whether it is a gallery, an agent, or the general web-viewing public. As a gallerist, I see a lot of resumes come across my desk and computer screen. I thought that I’d share my own resume preferences and give you some helpful tips. Remember that there are also countless online resources and examples to consult as well.
- One Page
Avoid putting your life story in resume form. That summer camp job when you were 17? Not very relevant on your artist resume. Nor is the high school you attended (unless you are in high school). I realize that sometimes artists, especially emerging artists, feel the need to include every award, exhibition, or publication that they have ever won or taken part in. Try to avoid this. An eight-page resume will not impress me, and instead suggests that you have trouble editing. While it is worthwhile to have a master list of your every accomplishment, only the most relevant, important, and recent items are worthy of your resume. If it is currently longer than one page, slim your resume down so that only your latest and greatest are presented.
While script and curly-cues look nice on a wedding invitation, they are not well suited for a resume. A san-serif font is great for a clean, easy-to-read look. I personally like to use optima and gill sans light.
- Contact Information
Include your contact info on everything: cover letters, CVs, Artist statements, etc. It’s a great idea to create a standard heading design to put on all of them. Make sure to include:
- Your name (This sounds obvious, but be sure to include it, even within your own website.)
- Your phone number and website (for non-web resumes especially)
If you’re mailing your resume to anyone as part of a packet, it is a great idea to include your address. If you have a website, it’s a good idea to have your resume available as a PDF download.
List the most recent items first. In art (and business), it’s not what you’ve done, it’s what you’ve done lately. In terms of organization, I like to see things broken down into these categories:
- Education. (example: 1980 Rhode Island School of Design, BFA Photography, magna cum laude)
- Awards and Exhibitions. (if you are condensing your resume, write “Selected Awards and Exhibitions”)
- Publications. (Publications are: online magazines, anything with an ISBN, and catalogues that are available for sale outside of the gallery. Try to keep “Publications” to features that were about you or writings you have done. Commissioned work for a magazine like Elle would go in another section.
- Experience should be teaching, assistant work, gallery work, wedding or event photography as a profession, etc., but should not include one-time events or commissions (they would be clients or part of your portfolio, but not experience).
- Clients. (example: “Clients include: Bath Country Club [that charity golf tournament you shot once or twice], Elle Magazine, spring 2014 [that commission you had]”)
While it can be very tempting to try to make your resume stand out stylistically to show off your creativity, it is always in your best interest to make it look clean and organized. Not only will that make you look more professional, but it will also let your accomplishments speak for themselves.