We are frequently approached by photographers interested in receiving assignments through Black Star. “What is your selection process?” they want to know.
There is no formal system for selecting Black Star photographers — and there is no formal pecking order among our approximately 350 photographers, either. Our selection process is more art than science, and always has been.
How do our relationships with photographers begin? Typically, in one of four ways:
- Searching the Web for possible photographers in an assignment location;
- Asking one of our clients for a recommendation;
- Asking one of our photographers for a recommendation;
- Reviewing photographer queries from our AssignmentPhoto.com  Web site.
Although we welcome e-mail through AssignmentPhoto.com, we do not wish to receive phone or snail-mail solicitations. They’re a waste of your time and — in the case of portfolios sent through the mail — your money.
When considering recommendations and queries, we look at three primary factors in making a decision:
- Talent. This is the most important criterion. It generally pops out from the photographer’s portfolio.
- Breadth of work. Black Star photographers take on a broad range of assignments for many different companies and publications — encompassing editorial, corporate, architecture, still life, and more. If we see this kind of variety in your portfolio, you are more likely to be a fit for us.
- Location. It helps to be in the right place at the right time. We often seek new photographers when we have an assignment in a specific location where we are currently without a photographer.
There is no such thing as “rejection” by Black Star — only acceptance. We always leave the door open, so that as our needs change, we may have the opportunity to work together in the future.
Should we develop an association with you, it is important to understand that you might not receive assignments immediately. Work is assigned as we receive it, and freelance photography can be a feast-or-famine business. Black Star has no formal pecking order when assigning work; it is generally based on availability. We develop comfort levels with photographers over time, as we see their talent and problem-solving abilities in action.
Trust must be earned, by both the agency and photographer. Once that bond is forged, a relationship with Black Star can be a long-term foundation for success.
Interested? E-mail us here. 
[tags]Ben Chapnick, Black Star, photography agencies, photography advice[/tags]