At Hammock, we tell stories about people from all over the country, and photography plays a big role in the way these stories are told. Through the years, our art director, Kerri Davis, has built an amazing cross-country network of freelance photographers who conduct photo shoots of small business owners, soldiers, preservationists and other subjects featured in our magazines and on our Web sites.

When I asked Kerri what makes a freelance photographer stand out in her mind, she immediately thought of Eric Millette, a San Francisco-based photographer. “When we find a photographer we like, we’ll use them as often as possible!” she says. Here are five characteristics that Kerri looks for in freelancers.

1. A creative, simple, well-designed website to showcase your work. Check out this site for a great example.

2. Initiative and willingness to jump right into a project. With all the photo assignments that flow through our art department, it’s nice to be able to hand off an assignment and not worry about it until the proofs come back, Kerri says. She tries to give photographers “as much info as they will need so there aren’t a lot of questions.”

3. Organization. We appreciate photographers who can offer an easy way to view the shoot, especially through something like a Web gallery. Providing high-res files promptly is also a plus.

For a “Beating Burnout” story for a small-business magazine Hammock published, Eric did a few setups. One was a tightly focused candid portrait of a small business owner relaxing; another was a wider shot of his messy, hectic office. The juxtaposition of the two captured the essence of the story perfectly.

4. A creative approach. The most important part of the whole process is getting that perfect shot. A photographer who is willing to shoot at least three different setups will often walk away with something original. “I like to see something unexpected when I get the shoot back,” Kerri says.

5. Flexibility. This is a big one for our designers who art direct from a distance and know little about what the location will be like. “You expect the photographer to be able to make judgment calls on the spot and make the best of the shoot no matter what curveballs get thrown at you,” Kerri says.