- Learn the basics. Before you can become a photojournalist, you must learn how to take photos. …
- Consider earning a degree. Most photojournalism jobs value experience over education. …
- Obtain an internship. …
- Grow your network. …
- Create a portfolio. …
- Start your job search.
A photography career path that calls for both talent and passion is photojournalism. Itâs not an easy job. If a photojournalist wants to tell a story, they only use photos. They fight in perilous war zones, crammed political meetings, and walled-off neighborhoods. Every story presents a unique challenge that calls for a skilled photographer with grit, zeal, and patience.
Photojournalists have had to navigate a constantly shifting environment ever since the golden age of photojournalism came to an end in the 1970s. For instance, the advent of digital cameras has made it necessary for groups like the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) of the United States to establish a code of ethics to prevent the manipulation of images and adhere to reporting that is “truthfully, honestly, and objectively.” â.
We talked to top photojournalists from around the world to learn how they made a living out of their photography. Do you need a degree in journalism or a job at a news publication? Some professionals started on this path as a part of their academic studies, while for others it developed over time from a pastime they indulged in on the side.
Western Kentucky high schools were the subject of my first paid photography assignment, which I did for a sports magazine. Before I realized that photojournalism could be a career and a job I could do for some of my income, it took me a little more than a year. Since I began studying photojournalism, I have known that this is the type of work I want to do, but I have also been looking for ways to make money from it. I started earning a little money after a little more than a year. About six years later, this is now my sole source of income.
Numerous significant events have aided in my development as a photographer. Having a mentor, someone with a lot of experience, was one of the most crucial things for me. Someone who can provide you with constructive criticism and help you advance your career I’m always looking for feedback from photographers who have more experience than I do in the industry so that I can develop.
Being able to show the audience something they don’t typically get to see is one of my favorite aspects of being a photographer. I take pictures of a lot of sports, and occasionally I get to go into the locker room to capture the team and coach getting ready for a game as well as what happens after the game.
Inspiration fluctuates for photographers from time to time. Iâm always looking for inspiration and new ideas. One of the ways I get inspired is by perusing the work of other photographers and the fresh concepts they come up with. Most photographers share the photos they take on Instagram. Observing the work of other photographers has encouraged me to try new things and to keep taking pictures.
Talking to people in their town and neighborhood is my advice for anyone considering a career as a professional photojournalist. That is how I got to know the subjects for the stories I was working on. Another piece of advice I would offer is to not be shy when approaching people you want to photograph and profile. Everyone has a story to tell, and most people are eager to share them with you.
My first gig was photographing newborn twins. I recall making the long drive to Steeles Avenue in a suburban area of Toronto in search of a specific plastic flower that I wanted to use in the photographs. I didnât really know what was I supposed to do. I decided to take a background-filled, studio-style photograph. Now that I’ve realized I don’t enjoy studio photography, I realize how crucial those early experiences were in helping me reach my goals. Like everything else in life, you have to go through difficult times before you reach the rewarding part.
I became interested in the field of social documentary photography after taking a documentary workshop with Jack Picone in 2008. After that, I completed a two-year photojournalism program at Loyalist College in Ontario, and editors’ and industry professionals’ comments and criticism constantly encouraged me to improve my work. The process is never finished. I always want to do better, and I’ll keep learning and improving as long as I keep taking pictures, which is to say, for the rest of my life.
It took a very long time for me to make photography my full-time job. That first gig, photographing the newborn twins, was in 2009. In 2013, I returned to school for a two-year photojournalism program. Finding my way took almost eight years, and I still feel like I’m not there. As a result, becoming a better photographer every time requires a lot of effort, perseverance, and passion.
I prefer solitude when I need to think as a photographer in order to find inspiration. I spend a lot of time alone, even days at a time, just writing and thinking. I also get inspired by other photographers. Iâm always looking online to check out new work. I love discussing ideas with other photographers. I believe that most ideas begin when you’re conversing and interacting with people, and projects only begin to take shape once I begin exploring and taking pictures. While many projects never materialize, ideas are constantly generated through the process of taking pictures. You can’t do it if you aren’t engaging with people and contextualizing current issues, whether they be political, social, environmental, or otherwise.
The interaction with people, entering their world, and taking their pictures is my favorite aspect of being a photographer. When I’m in the field and helping people, I experience adrenaline. I love telling stories. The best moments, in my opinion, occur when the subject I’m photographing is no longer aware of my presence. I feel at my best when I fade into the background.
Anyone considering a career as a photojournalist must put in a lot of effort. Photography is not an easy profession. If you don’t love it and do it from the bottom of your heart, don’t do it. Another thing I would add is to accept criticism and use it to your advantage in order to improve. Listen carefully to what editors say to you. They understand the industry and know it best.
My first paid photography job was taking some pictures of friends of friends. Like many photographers, I initially worked extensively for free in order to develop my portfolio and strive to become better. My first “real” job was to photograph a project for Doctors Without Borders International. It didn’t pay much, but it allowed me to travel, and at the time it seemed like a pretty cool gig.
I had consistently held multiple jobs, including waitressing, leading paddling trips, and doing whatever else was necessary to pay the rent. I once had the chance to share a studio in a cool, newly renovated loft building, and even though I didn’t really have any real photography work to support the studio at the time, I took a chance and joined. I was motivated to work hard and actively seek out photography jobs as a result, and soon I was doing photography full-time for a living.
Simply going out and taking photos has helped me the most as a photographer. I spent a lot of time printing in a darkroom while learning how to use film and maximize its potential while also having to be frugal with the amount of footage I shot. With film, you only have a limited number of exposures, so I believe that gave me a sense of consideration each time I depressed the shutter. A story about Henri Cartier-Bresson’s request to see contact sheets rather than completed portfolios when evaluating aspiring young photographers for Magnum Photos has stuck with me. It was more important to have a good thought process than to get a perfect shot.
Meeting so many incredible people is my favorite aspect of being a photographer. Being allowed into someone’s life for a short time to get to know them, learn about them, and share an experience is truly a gift. I’ve always believed that taking portraits should be a mutually beneficial process for both the photographer and the subject. The variety of experiences I have had, as well as the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life, have filled my “story well” for years to come.
Finding inspiration for photography and my advice for a beginner are, in my opinion, somewhat similar. Now that there are approximately one billion photos uploaded each day, there is a slight viewer fatigue due to the production and consumption rates. Now, it’s difficult to make even truly great work stand out. Try your hardest to take pictures of the subjects you enjoy, as that is the best advice I have ever received and the advice I would give others. It indicates that you are more committed to making your work better and that it is better. A lot of people just follow trends. However, if the work is good, people will eventually be drawn to it, and you will be rewarded by being able to do what you love to do, which is take photographs.
I’ve always been interested in travel and photography since I was young. I concentrated on environmental science and ecology in college and graduate school. I didn’t make the jump until after graduate school. I was volunteering in Bangladesh for a local NGO. I set up a blog to document my time abroad before my trip by purchasing a kit, a DSLR, and some lenses.
Early on in my experience, I had the feeling that photography was something I wanted to pursue while I was out in the field. I therefore quit my job early and applied to the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, where I later attended. That was almost eight years ago.
Giving myself permission to be a photographer was the most crucial thing for my development as a photographer. For a long time I had been interested in photography. But I didnât know how to make the leap. Going to Salt was the first step. While there, I was still unsure of my ability to succeed as a photographer. I had to eventually give myself room to accept this new direction. I frequently had to have faith that what I was doing was right.
After Salt, I went to Cambodia to work on a side project involving the elimination of land mines in rural areas. It was my first attempt after graduation to integrate social and environmental issues into a single narrative—a theme I’m still working on. While abroad, it was abundantly clear that I was going in the right direction. After that trip I interned for a photo agency. I had the opportunity to observe the inner workings of the photography industry at that time, which was a priceless experience. I would present my work to a few coworkers and solicit their guidance on the best course of action. Eventually, they all agreed on the same thing: you must try to put all of your effort into this passion.
Inspiration to me comes in different forms. It could be a movie or an art exhibition. As a freelancer, there can be a lot of downtime, and I frequently find inspiration in boredom. Thereâs something about letting your mind ramble. Simply remaining silent and allowing my brain time to breathe has resulted in some of my best work.
Other times, I’ve gotten ideas from friends by hearing about their books or any interesting people they may have encountered. I also read every day. This could come in the form of books or news articles. I find reading vital to my career. It can take days, weeks, or even years for ideas to become projects. It’s difficult to pinpoint the original source of those ideas, but I’m okay with that.
The ability to tell stories is my favorite aspect of being a photographer. I genuinely enjoy the process of creating a story that engages a larger audience, whether it be breaking news or long form. I consider myself fortunate to be able to do that as my job. Being a freelancer requires a lot of resolve, especially in today’s market. And it can seem like progress is not being made.
These are the times when I think it’s important to reflect on why I started taking photos in the first place. One way for me to see how far I’ve come is to review old work. It also strengthens my resolve to keep plugging away. Talking to people who have experienced similar circumstances is another option. Those who came before me frequently experienced similar moments of uncertainty. I have to keep my objectives in mind and make plans to accomplish them. In the end, it all comes down to believing in yourself, being curious, and staying open to learning.
Breaking into photojournalism: pros give their advice
What does a photojournalist do?
A photojournalist is a journalist who also works as a photographer. In order to succeed in this fast-paced environment, photojournalists need to be knowledgeable about the necessary equipment, be prepared to put in long hours under challenging circumstances, and work independently to meet deadlines.
Typical duties include:
What is photojournalism?
Using images of people, places, or events, photojournalism is a type of journalism that produces stories that are newsworthy. Since most photos are spontaneous and candid, photojournalists must follow the action wherever it goes.
How to become a photojournalist
Follow these steps to begin your career as a photojournalist:
1. Learn the basics
To become a photojournalist, you first need to learn how to take pictures. Once you’ve mastered the use of a camera, try taking pictures that have a narrative. Using a camera to capture life has no age restriction Always carry a camera with you to capture the world around you. Consider a subject, then try to convey a narrative solely through photographs.
2. Consider earning a degree
Most photojournalism jobs value experience over education. But pursuing a formal education can teach you about the field and its trends, as well as various tools and editing techniques. You can also grow your portfolio to improve your employability.
Search for schools that offer a photojournalism degree program. You must enroll in photography courses in order to pursue a degree in this area. You might also need to take journalism and news writing courses, depending on your program.
2. Obtain an internship
Your college can assist you in finding an internship to gain experience, strengthen your resume, and advance your photographic abilities depending on the degree program you decide to pursue. You may also find photojournalist internships at newspapers or magazines. These internships can be a great way to learn about the industry while working alongside accomplished professionals in the field, even though you won’t typically carry out the same responsibilities as a full-time photojournalist.
You can gain experience other than through an internship by working at the student newspaper or magazine of your institution. No matter what you choose to do, it’s critical to gain the necessary experience to support your future employment goals.
3. Grow your network
Your chances of meeting other experts in your field may increase as you gain more experience. Building a network of business contacts can be helpful when looking for a job as a photojournalist. Consider networking with your professors, journalists and other colleagues. They may be able to guide you and assist you in locating a worthwhile opportunity.
4. Create a portfolio
Continue compiling a portfolio of your finest work as you gain experience. Keep in mind that your potential employers will probably look at your portfolio to see if you possess the skills necessary to fill their position.
Make certain the images you select are true to the kind of photojournalist you want to be. For instance, your photos should show that if you want to document natural phenomena or sporting events. Use photos from your past projects, internships or school assignments.
You have more photos to choose from as you gain experience. Replace older photos with more recent ones that demonstrate your growth and photographic skills as your career develops.
5. Start your job search
Once you have a strong portfolio, begin your job search. Ask your network if they are aware of any openings or search for job postings online. When you locate a position that interests you, make a resume that highlights your level of expertise and pertinent skills.
Tailor your resume to the job youre applying for. Finish up your portfolio and submit it to as many jobs as you think are appropriate. When starting out as a photojournalist, entry-level positions are a good place to start. As you search, think about submitting a freelance application to magazines or online publications.
Frequently asked questions about being a photojournalist
Here are some frequently asked questions about photojournalists:
How much do photojournalists make?
What skills do you need to become a photojournalist?
Photojournalists should have a variety of skills, including the following:
What are some careers related to that of a photojournalist?
Careers related to photojournalism include;
How hard is it to become a photojournalist?
It’s not an easy job. A photojournalist tells a story entirely through images. They fight in perilous war zones, crammed political meetings, and walled-off neighborhoods. Every story presents a unique challenge that calls for a skilled photographer with grit, zeal, and patience.
How long does it take to be a photojournalist?
Photojournalism degrees are usually offered in a 4-Year program. Your focus will be much broader over the course of these four years than just on the photography component. In actuality, your education will only cover a small portion of photography.
Is photojournalism a good career?
Photojournalism is definitely not an easy career. But learning how to become a photojournalist is so rewarding. You’ll succeed if you put your mind to it and have excellent photography. It’s important to use the internet to your advantage because it has significantly changed how photojournalists work.
How do photojournalist get paid?
The average salary for photojournalists working for newspapers, magazines, or book publishers was $56,080, higher than the national average wage of $40,000 for all U S. jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. However, photojournalists earned less on average than other types of photographers.