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Photojournalist Job Description, Career as a Photojournalist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor’s degree

Average Salary $42,000 per year

Job Outlook Fair

Basic Job Description

The main job of a photojournalist is to provide pictures for stories or news articles that provide clear and truthful images corresponding with the topic. Photos need to be taken that will allow the reader to gain a better understanding of what the story is about. Some photo journalists do more than just take pictures. Some publications will have them edit and develop film, color correct photos and prepare them for publication. Photojournalists will also be in charge of scheduling photo sessions with companies who are advertising or having a story written about them, keeping track of events they will need to attend and cover, as well as arriving to the scene of a story with the reporter to take photos of the live coverage.

Education and Training Requirements

Most photojournalists get a Bachelor’s degree in photography with a minor or concentration in journalism. Photojournalists who plan to work for print or web publications often need some sort of educational background to understand journalism and how the field works. Due to technological advancements in the photography and journalism world, it may benefit a photojournalist to have some sort of experience in graphic design as well.
Most training is obtained through internships required to receive a Bachelor’s in photography or journalism. Most schools require a photography or journalism student to gain experience working in the field for class credit and to build a portfolio of their work to have on display for potential employers. Some internships can turn into full-time positions.

Getting the Job

To get a job as a photojournalist, the ideal candidate will possess excellent photography skills and be able to edit photos to make them the right size and color for the editorial. They will also have to purchase their own equipment such as cameras and lenses.

One of the most important skills for a photojournalist is to have excellent people skills. Photojournalists will be dealing primarily with the public and will need to be persistent and professional in order to make sure they are getting the right photos. Occasionally, the photojournalist will be required to set up a photo shoot display if they are taking pictures for an advertisement or editorial about a new business.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Most photojournalists start off working for a newspaper or other print publication. Others work as freelance photographers and get hired by businesses or individuals to take photos for an event or advertisement. Photojournalism is not expected to increase nor decrease over the next several years, but there are constantly more and more graduating students who are aspiring to get into the field.

It is often difficult for a photojournalist to find a job right after graduation without years of experience. Many of them will take this opportunity to start their own photography and photo editing/graphic design business on the web to gain potential clients and display their skills. This approach is becoming more and more popular as more publications and photographers are doing their business primarily on the web. Starting a website to use as a display of work is an excellent way for photographers and photojournalists to get their work out there.

After building up a decent number of clients, some photojournalists will work as freelancers and do work for several companies at a time. They will offer up services including photo shoots, photo editing and graphic design services, and writing small editorial pieces to go along with photos. Many photojournalists even advance in their career enough to start their own print or online publication.

Working Conditions and Environment

Photojournalists spend a lot of time in front of a computer editing and perfecting pictures for publication. They also spend time in dark rooms of various publications editing and developing photos. When they are not preparing photos for publication, they are out on the field taking photos. This can include heading out with the news team to breaking news locations, taking pictures at an event, or working at photo shoots with companies who have hired them.

Photojournalists must also expect to work long or odd hours. Many of them are on-call, and may be required to head out the second they get a call about a breaking news story. Any journalist who works for a news publication should expect to work unusual hours. Freelance photojournalists should also be prepared to work odd hours, as some clients may need an even covered late in the evening or over weekends.

Photojournalists need to be able to work in fast-paced newsrooms and high pressure environments. They need to stay on track with deadlines and communicate with other team members to make sure everything is done correctly and in sync with one another. Depending on where a photojournalist works, they may have to deal with the public who do not want their picture taken yet their editor is insisting they need to be in a piece. Photojournalists need to understand legal issues that go with taking and publishing pictures, and get permission from necessary individuals before publishing them.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a photojournalist is about $42,000 per year. Most journalists who start off working for a newspaper or magazine will make less, and slowly have salary increases as they gain more experience. Photojournalists who are full-time employees for one publication also have the benefit of a secure health insurance plan, as well as vacation and sick time. Photojournalists who work freelance or are self-employed will have to pay for health insurance themselves, as well as work vacation and sick time around clients and the demand for their services.

Where to Go for More Information

National Press Photographers Association
3200 Croasdaile Drive Suite 306
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 383-7246

World Press Photo
Jacob Obrechtstraat 26
1071 KM Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+31 20 676 6096

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts