A career in photojournalism can be an exciting and rewarding experience, which can include traveling around the world, interacting with different types of people and covering breaking news or issues of political and social importance. The work of a photojournalist is seen in newspapers, on websites, in magazines and in books. While the lure of working in such a field is enticing, photojournalism is not without drawbacks that should be seriously considered before pursuing it as a career choice.
Photojournalism is the practice of taking photographs that tell a story. Most often employed by news organizations, photojournalists are reporters who use their camera to tell a story as opposed to the written word. Photojournalism requires the ability to master the technical aspects of photography, such as composition, lighting, film processing and editing work. It also requires being able to work with an editor or print journalist to determine which photograph best conveys the story to the readers. Photojournalists should be able to work both on a team and independently for long hours at a time. They may work locally, nationally or internationally covering stories spontaneously as they occur or stories for which they have prepared in advance, such as an inauguration or sporting event. Photojournalists can specialize in areas, such as sports, politics, war or feature stories.
The nature of photojournalism—breaking news stories, world travel, working with various kinds of people—lends itself to a nontraditional work environment. Photojournalists who work for news organizations can expect to work irregular and often long hours, including evenings and weekends. They may spend days away from home, family and friends, living in conditions that can range from posh to dangerous and impoverished. However, some working in photojournalism find themselves working a regular 40-hour work week, depending on their employer.
A career in photojournalism often requires a degree in a related field, such as journalism. Classes in photographic techniques, equipment and processes are also requisite for a career in photojournalism. Photojournalists who wish to cover events such as politics, government or business benefit from courses in these areas to have a background understanding of the stories they cover.
Those with several years of experience in photojournalism can advance to supervisory positions, such as an editing position within a news organization. Others choose to pursue an academic position in a university teaching budding photojournalists the trade of photojournalism. Independent careers in photojournalism are most often left to those with a reputation for excellence in photojournalism. These professionals often track down their own story leads to sell to news agencies or to publish in books of their work.
Salary and Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most photographers, including those in the field of photojournalism, earned between $20,620 and $43,530 in May 2008. These figures vary depending upon employer, education, experience and the photojournalist’s reputation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in photography, including photojournalism, are expected to grow as fast as the average when compared with all other occupations. Due to the appeal of photojournalism, competition for vacant positions is expected to be fierce.
- Photo Credit photographer image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com
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