A Career in Photojournalism

Selfie king! Selfie Queen! These are some of the titles we have come up with just to identify ourselves or people who are always taking pictures of themselves in any situation. We call ourselves the selfie Age because let’s face it, no one takes pictures as much as our generation (Millennials) does, whether you are eating, doing chores, doing your hair or even about to take a bath we always take a picture. Some of us are really good at taking pictures, adding filters and ambiance and they always make us look good.

Sounds like you? Now you can take your love for taking pictures and turn it into a career. Photojournalism employs images in order to tell the news story, it is very expressive and contains little to no text. You have probably heard it said, “a picture tells a thousand words", nowhere is this truer than in photojournalism this is because pictures do not really require a caption because just a look at the images, we already know what is going on.

Just like any other form of journalism such as sport and investigative journalism, photojournalism involves editing, presenting news for publication and collection of data. Photojournalism employs images in order to tell the news story, it is usually used to report on war, poverty, diseases, nature and global warming.

A photojournalist still acknowledges journalistic ethics, such as being truthful because an altered or fake picture can send the wrong message and can be categorised as fake news. Photojournalists should always adhere to the code of privacy and you should not take images of individuals unwillingly.

Skills of a photojournalist include:

  • visual editing - this involves the skills of picture editing, visual presentations in print and online publications. In short, you portray your skills in editing pictures. e.g. Photoshop
  • visual communication - is the act of making your point through images, this is when you showcase your creative and imaginative skills in bringing out the meaning from a picture.
  • knowing how to handle your camera
  • Cropping - you're going to need to crop the image around the subject that is most important and improve its structure. When done incorrectly it can distort the quality of the picture and loose its expressive meaning.

Photojournalists can be employed or be freelancers and sell their work to newspapers, magazines, documentaries and online websites. Documentary photographers are known for their works, for example, National Geography channel and magazines. One can specialise in a specific area of photography:

 HDR photography- the high dynamic range is just the difference between the brightest and darkest you can capture in a photo. It is one of the difficult forms of photography because capturing both light and dark elements in a picture requires great skill. Pictures are taken in HDR form turn reality images into High definition pictures.

Travel photography - these are pictures of people, culture, landscapes, and history. The images also express time and human emotion. A single look at a travel photo you get to understand the culture and possibly the lifestyle of that town, city or country.

Wildlife photography - this type of photography requires great patience because you cannot tell an elephant to look in your direction or tell a butterfly to sit still. You will have to be there and wait until the animal decides to do something interesting.

Motion Photograph - in this form of photography you are trying to bring out the feeling of movement in a picture. This requires skill, focus, and good timing. To capture a good motion photo, you are supposed to make the surroundings fixed, so as to bring focus on your desired object, be it a car, waterfall, or a person on a swing.

Macro photography - the smallest insect in be made visible to the human eye using macro photography. To become one, a lot of gadgets are required from different sizes of lenses to different types of camera models. It also requires patience so that you do not scare the insects away. If you are a person who finds joy in learning about insects then this could be for you.

In the next article, we will talk to photojournalists and find out what it is like in the field.

Written by 

Sharon T Sakonda