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Photojournalism is one of the most challenging, exciting types of photography. As a result, it is also the most competitive fields to break in to.
This should be obvious, but it’s intentionally high in this list. All the skills and the best gear in the world without the ability to get on scene is pointless.
I consider these minimum requirements.
One of my former colleagues at the newspaper was a UPS deliveryman. He always had his cameras with him and a scanner. He would “happen” on fires and other breaking news and over time built enough credibility and trust to become a stringer/freelancer and eventually land a job as a staff photographer.
Writing and reporting go hand-in-hand. You may not need to write a full blown news story, but you do need to be able to write accurate descriptive captions. So proper grammar and ability to gather accurate caption information like names and ages is very important.
If you consistently provide wrong information and the newspaper has to print a correction each time, they won’t be calling you back.
If you’re looking to shoot sports, then good all round knowledge of a variety of sports is important. Since popularity of different sports are very regional, I’ll leave it to you to figure that out. Obviously expect to know Australian Rules football and cricket if you’re Down Under, baseball, hockey and American Football if you’re in the US and etc.
In sports expect to know quite a bit about all types of sports even if you’ve never played it.
If you’re covering a tennis match, for instance, do you know how the players change sides on the tie-breaker? And how do they score the game? If you don’t understand how the game is scored, how do you know when the last point of the match is coming up.
Keeping up with news is especially important. When big names come through your community and you’re on top of it, this is a great way to get your foot in the door.
The newspaper may or may not have the personnel to cover everything so your contribution may be welcome. Even if they don’t use your pictures, you’ve made first contact.
Realize these are highly simplified tips. It takes years of hard work and dedication to get into the business and there are college degrees offered in photojournalism.
In my next post, I’ll discuss how to get your foot in the door at a newspaper.”
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