How to Become a Photojournalist

To become a Photojournalist requires personal commitment and mental stamina. Photojournalists are usually partnered with a writer and handed a topic by their media editor. Photojournalism is a scope of journalism where a picture is utilized to inform, educate, express a feeling or explain a story. At times, a journalist does both--snaps some pictures and writes the headlines.

Do not confuse photojournalism with the sensational and sometimes controversial pictures that the paparazzi take. Paparazzi defend their line of work by saying it is journalism, but many people would beg to differ. Regardless, photojournalism does not have to be provocative or alarming, it should only convey a story--sort of like the fictional Peter Parker character in the Spiderman movies or the Vicki Vale character in the Batman series. This article will explain the pivotal facets of this profession and what it takes to enter this exciting field.    

Critical Credentials

Photojournalists do not have to have press credentials but it can facilitate the photographer's art or mission. So, it seems to be imperative that photojournalists have this type of access.

With modern technology and mass production, tripods for cameras are quite common. They are light weight and can be used for photojournalists who want to take pictures from a distance. Despite this, press credentials are still demanded if you want to set up a tripod near any "red carpet" area.

Job Description and Important Points

All photojournalists need to have a photographic portfolio to display to the editors so you can be placed in their freelance pool. You should be professional and cordial at all times and expect to work at odd hours. Most likely, in the first few chapters of your career, you will be working as an independent contractor. With some luck and hard work, you could be offered a full-time position with a meager salary.

Maintain your clean record. You may want to take pictures of the notorious but you cannot have a track record like them. To obtain those vital press credentials, you will have to have a security and background check conducted.

To become a photojournalist you have to accept that not everything occurs in the 9 to 5 time slot. Occasionally, perhaps in the beginning of your career, you will be working on the weekends and certainly, the holidays.

Tips to Ponder

  • Pictures snapped by photojournalist do not always have to be of the old style of black and white.
  • Spend some time pouring over the images taken by some of the best photojournalists around so you can contemplate what mold you want to become.
  • Remember, paparazzi can become quite rich after taking 1 picture, despite the fact that the image may be possibly embarrassing someone or be in poor taste, but photojournalists only receive a large salary after they have established a name for themselves.

Academic Expectations

You should seek a college degree. This degree should be derived from an accredited photography school. Some of your classes will be:

  • Portfolio Foundations Photography
  • Photography Software
  • Studio Techniques
  • Principles of Lighting


Photojournalists earned, on average, about $26,000 in 2004. Some of the highest paid photojournalists brought in about $54,000.  

The Future of this Field

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates employment openings for this profession will remain steady or be average up until 2014.