Photojournalism Careers: What Does Life Look Like Through the Camera Lens?
Photojournalists today document subjects ranging from local beauty pageants to major league sports tournaments to Rolling Stones reunion concerts. Some photojournalists follow wars, political events, or natural disasters. Photojournalists lead interesting lives doing creative, important, and sometimes grueling or dangerous work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) distinguishes photojournalists from portrait photographers, science photographers, fine art photographers, and commercial and industrial photographers by the subject matter they convey. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, photojournalists work sporadic hours that can include a substantial amount of local, domestic, and international travel. They often walk long distances, carrying heavy equipment.
Are You Equipped For A Photojournalism Career?
The amount and quality of equipment you need depends on how established you are in your photojournalism career. Expect to make ongoing investments in professional camera equipment. Photojournalists must operate camera equipment quickly, at a high level of complexity. Photojournalism courses taught at colleges, fine art centers, and online schools can help you improve these skills.
Essential equipment for photojournalists:
- Camera(s): In the modern era, this means at least one good, digital camera with video-capturing capabilities. Some photojournalists still use silver halide film cameras for certain assignments. If you use film, you will need access to a dark room, processing solutions, and photo developing.
- Lenses, filters, and portable lighting: This is where photography gets technical. Those who pursue photojournalism in college study how to use lenses, filters, and portable camera lighting.
- Tripod and camera bag: The necessary size and durability of your tripods and camera bags depend on the types of assignments you take and the amount of equipment you have. Remember: You might have to carry your equipment for an indefinite period of time, over long distances, in inclement weather--so pack as light as possible.
- A desktop or laptop computer: Used for downloading, sending, and editing photographs.
- Editing software: For still photographs, the industry uses Adobe Photoshop Pro. Most Apple computers come with a basic photo-editing program called iPhoto, which can be used as starter software. For photojournalists who also shoot video, Final Cut Pro is the preferred program. Note: Be sure to ask about a publication's photo editing policies before you make any adjustments.
As with most contemporary careers, technology is continually changing photojournalism. News photographers should learn to develop multimedia packages that include still photography, video, and audio. Skills such as packaging stories for the Internet can be learned in photojournalism college degree programs and online courses. Excellent examples of multimedia packages created for contemporary photojournalism assignments can be found at the New York Times blog, "Lens."
Regardless of your level of experience as a photojournalist, photojournalism courses and college degrees in photography can give your photojournalism career a quick boost. What are you waiting for? Important events are happening in communities around the world every day. Grab your camera, and go capture life.