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Career Summary

Career: Photojournalist

Description - A photojournalist photographs and documents newsworthy events for newspapers, magazines, press organizations, and media outlets for distribution and telecast. Photojournalists need to be adept at manipulating multimedia for print and online journalism and have a strong proficiency in digital technology. They have to have the drive of a journalist and pursue the story to provide the audience with the most in-depth analysis in the most visually appealing way.

Job Outlook - According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected rise of 12% for the employment of photographers from 2008-2018. However, due to the affordability of cameras and the increasing number of well-equipped amateurs, job opportunities for photojournalists are decreasing. A print press photographer earns a mean annual wage of $40,580, up to $75,000 depending upon experience and reputation.

Career-related Education

According to the National Press Photographers Association, the three most common approaches towards a career in photojournalism are through the self-taught method , a college training in photojournalism, or training in other subjects . The most basic knowledge required are the standards of reportage and the techniques of professional photography for journalistic purposes. In the increasingly competitive job market, it is important to pursue higher education even for jobs that previously did not require so, and one pursuing a career in this relatively volatile field needs to equip oneself with the most effective tools to excel. The suggested minimum is a bachelors degree in a journalism major.

As for myself, I took a path of mixed self-learning and training from my school’s photography courses for two years to master intermediate and advanced photographic techniques. After one year of being a staff writer for my high school’s newsmagazine, El Estoque , I applied for and obtained the position as photography editor. I have published many photography assignments and news video as a specialized photojournalist for El Estoque , and I have become an integral part of the publication. I plan to pursue a double major in journalism and computer science, and in the long run I intend to combine my expertise in both fields to develop the transitioning world of new media.

Educational Enhancement

For students, it is imperative to obtain experience outside the classroom, and pursuing internships and volunteer jobs is key to boosting one’s reputation as a photographer and a journalist. This also means that one needs to assemble a portfolio for hiring and other future advancement.

The key is to gather work experience in related fields, and as a journalist one should consider broadening his or her career scope into including the main tiers of communications: public relations, media production, film and television, etc.

I answered to that need by help found an online publication called The Orator in my junior year of high school. To also help serve my local Scouting community, I am currently the head of public relations for my county’s Scouting honor society, Miwok Lodge 439. I also volunteer for KSAR 15, the community access channel of Saratoga, CA, by filming and broadcasting monthly Youth Commission meetings.

Special Skills

Photojournalists need to immerse themselves into the field of new media given the transforming nature of journalism today. Entry-level photographers can no longer just think of themselves as just still photographers. Photographers need to possess skills in video editing and digital filmmaking, expanding the use of the digital camera towards the creation of news video on the go. In a world where anyone with a decent camera phone can be a journalist, professional photojournalists must exceed the ordinary and seek to have the widest possible skill set.

Outside of journalism, I had shot two short video montages to develop my interest in videography. I learned to integrate photography into print visuals through Adobe InDesign, and as photography editor I am responsible for instructing new journalism staff members how to shoot journalistic photography and construct page spreads with dynamic graphic design. ◼

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition, Photographers http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos264.htm

Jim McNay, National Press Photographers Association Past President, Professional Development Information http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/students/entering_the_job_market/