I used to rank on the first page for 5 keywords, BUT I dropped in October 2013 as a result of the Panda 2.1 algo update. This was not a manual penalty, but an automatic one.
I have not returned to page 1 since. In fact, I'm now around page 15 for most keywords.
I have had 2 other freelancers contact various webmasters to request backlink removal, as well as upload a disavow list. This has not yet resulted in any improvement what-so-ever which leads me to believe that I don't have enough new valuable links.
This is why I now require someone to build backlinks. These MUST be on highly trusted sites and 100% relevant to my field of service: Photography!
IMPORTANT: Any spamming will result in cancellation of the contract and I will take action to ensure any spammed work is reversed. SEO's who use spam techniques is the reason the Penquin update hurt me, so I will not tolerate it again.
Because I have had two SEO's steal from me before, I will first be hiring for week -as a trial period. If you are successful, I will extend this trial period for 1 month. If after that I am still happy, I will hire on an ongoing basis.
Thank you and good luck