Photojournalism As A Career
by Nancy L. Ford
Photojournalist / Utica, NY
Copyright © 1998
always ask if there is money to be made in photojournalism.
Sure, anyone can make money in any career, depending how you approach
it I guess. But like I always say -- If you're planning
to pursue a career in photojournalism, then you should make sure that
journalism is in your blood and that you love it, because frankly,
you are NOT going to get rich doing it.
There is a very good reason to feel passionate for what you choose
to do for a living, whatever it may be. You need to love your
career with all your heart because no matter where you work, there
will always be something about your job that you won't like, whether
it's long hours, you're underpaid, or there's somebody who's making
your life miserable. Or maybe you aren't the best at your job
and you're not the one who is winning all the awards. Whatever
the reason, most people always seem to have a side of their job that
they dislike. It is a fact of life.
If you are not passionate and love what you are doing for a living,
and if you do not get any personal satisfaction out of your
accomplishments, then you will lack the desire to get up in the morning
to go to work. There are too many people who go to work every
day and spend it watching the clock, year after year, because they
can't wait to leave "that place" and get home. These are the
people who spend their working life waiting for retirement.
When they do retire and look back on their careers, they see only
misery. It doesn't have to be that way.
I studied commercial photography at Syracuse University. While
I was a student there, I was offered a job at the Observer-Dispatch
as a part-time photographer, and even though I had no interest in photojournalism
at the time, I took the job because it was the only job I could find
where I could make money doing photography. My first day on the
job I was driving around town with a two-way radio and a police scanner
chasing fires. My
whole world changed that day. I knew I was in love. It was
the first time in my life that anything felt so right.
I make an issue of this because I have had many interns who work their
shift and go home, and they never took any photographs for themselves.
I've met many photo majors that do not know how to use a flash
or how to operate their camera in the manual mode. (Thus not fully
understanding f-stops, shutter speed, TTL or most important, HOW and
WHY the camera works.) This is the tool of their trade. It's disheartening
when these individuals lack the desire to learn as much as they can
about the camera, even when it is pointed out to them that they don't
remember when I was in college I couldn't get enough photography.
Beth Mundschenk and I use to hang out in the photo lab at work until
the wee hours of the morning, even when we were not on the clock.
I still do, but now at home. I know many accomplished photographers
who seem to always be getting in trouble with their spouses for staying
up all night doing something with photography on the computer. :-)
My point is that If you do feel that journalism is in your blood and
that you know this is what is right for you, then I hope the information
below is helpful to you. If you don't feel the passion -- the
drive to learn everything about photography, journalism and photojournalism
that you can, then please find what is in your heart. There
is something for you. It is important to feel passion for whatever you
choose to do. If you have no idea what you want to do, then look
at the things in life that you do love, that you can't get enough of
when you are not working or going to school, and see if there is a career
there. You will live a happier, more fulfilling life.
INTRODUCTION: Choosing A Career
PART ONE: Photojournalism vs. Journalism
PART TWO: Responsibilities and Duties
of the Photojournalist
PART THREE: The Role of the Photo Editor
PART FOUR: Job Opportunities, Money &
PART FIVE: Preparing the Portfolio
PART SIX: The
National Press Photographers Association
Back to: Table of Contents
NANCY L. FORD PHOTOGRAPHY
Nancy L. Ford Photography, Photographer, Photojournalist, Utica, NY, From the
heart of the Mohawk Valley, in Oneida County. Nancy L. Ford, former Photo Editor,
Staff photographer with the Observer-Dispatch, is now freelancing in Upstate
New York, specializing in Editorial, Commercial, and Web Photography. Other
services available; http://NLFord.com
P h o t o s @ N L F o r d . c o m: