is important today to get a four-year degree in journalism. There
are a lot of colleges where one can get a degree specializing in photojournalism.
The better programs will not just teach students how to take good pictures
and develop film, but also require other important, related courses
as part of their curriculum such as ethics and law concerning journalism,
writing, photo editing, newspaper page design and classes that teach
the student how to use the photo editing software called Adobe PhotoShop.
A great educational
resource is the National Press Photographers Association's web site,
which has a
list of colleges, as well as advice on how to choose one.
question that I am asked is, "Is it possible for someone to become
a photojournalist with out majoring in it in school?" Anything
is possible. It has been done before and it will be done again.
But look at the big picture ... If you are competing for a job with
someone of equal talent as you, and they have a bachelor degree and
you don't, who gets more points?
Think of it this
way: When an employer is looking to hire someone, they will consider
many factors in choosing a candidate such as skill level, enthusiasm, level
of education, personality, problem solving, communication skills, internships,
references, awards and team spirit. Of course, different employers
will find one factor more important than the others. In other words,
one employer may want to hire someone who has more enthusiasm, a more pleasant
personality and less skill level than another job applicant.
line is, the more you have going for you, the more likely you will
find a good job in an area of photography of your choice. And
note that majoring in photojournalism is not all about taking photography
classes. You will also learn about non-photography topics such
as ethics and law in journalism, writing and photo editing skills,
which employers deem valuable.
in college, students will work on building up their portfolios to help
them get a job when they graduate. Material for the portfolio will
come from class assignments, internships and most importantly, they should
come from work the student took on their own time.
During their summer
breaks, photojournalism students should also try to get internships
with newspapers, editorial magazines or anything related to
photography to learn and gain experience. Internships are the
most valuable learning tools during the college years. Sometime
around the winter break, the student will send slides of their work
to newspapers or magazines looking for summer interns in hope of landing
a paid position. If a student is unable to find a paid position,
they should seek out a publication that would take them as an unpaid
intern, hopefully for credit hours.
It is a good idea for serious high school and college students to
be in contact with their local newspaper or other publication.
I would suggest calling the photo editor and first ask if you can
spend the day following the photo editor around to get the feel of
newspaper life. Then, if things seem to be going well, ask if
you can follow a photographer around for another day to get an idea
of the routine of the photojournalist.
If you are welcomed,
carefully watch how everyone does their job, how the photographer works
with others in the newsroom and out on assignment. Pay careful attention
to how they approach the assignment to get the best picture possible.
It is a good
idea to maintain an ongoing relationship with a photo staff for a
number of reasons: You might impress them enough so they will
offer you a paid or unpaid internship. They could help you find a
job when you graduate. And most importantly, just for the learning
After graduation, some students will get a full-time job. Others
will spend their first year or two doing a variety of full-time paid
internships so they may get the feel of different newspapers in different
cities. Some may not find a job or internship at a publication
and will have to seek work at other jobs. These people should
spend their days off hanging out with photojournalists at some publication.
Also, some students will continue their education to get a masters
will encourage students to join the National Press Photographers Association.
The NPPA, which has a student chapter, offers a discounted membership fee
to students. Photojournalists find the NPPA the Number 1 resource
for learning, seminars and job listings, including internships. The Eddie
Adams workshop is a great one for photojournalist. The NPPA also
has a list
It is also
worth mentioning other photo workshops, which many people recommend.
Here are some tips on how to find a workshop to suit your needs: http://www.cnn.com/2002/TRAVEL/NEWS/04/26/photo.workshops/index.html
for photojournalist and interns vary widely depending on location, size
and type of the publication, experience of the photographer including education
and the company they work for. Most of the mail I receive from high
school students asks what is an entry level salary for photojournalist.
This is too difficult to answer, because depending on the situation, an
intern can start at anything from minimum wage to $400-$500 a week.
At the same time, an experienced photographer can also start at $400 a
week. If you are looking to get rich in this field, I can tell you that
you won't find very many photojournalists making $100,000 a year.
Like I said on the intro page: You better make sure that photojournalism
is in your blood, because you are not going to get rich doing it.