Job Facts about Photojournalist Jobs

Photojournalist jobs are among the most exciting, interesting jobs in journalism and the most demanding. Photojournalists are photograph journalists, and their work contains elements of both disciplines. Photojournalism is true journalism, expressed in pictures. Photojournalists typically work outside the office environment to a very large extent, and often in remote locations. They may work internationally or locally, but they're always on the move.

Photography

Professional photojournalists are in high demand from major publishers around the world, particularly magazines and news media. Their high quality images and unique content make them important contributors to magazines. Typical markets for top photojournalists include publications like National Geographic, Time Magazine, Discovery Magazine and other high profile market leaders.

News media will pick up content from professional photojournalists in preference to other sources because of their quality and choice of subject. The material may be bought as a single piece or otherwise purchased under an existing contract. Photojournalists are not "paparazzi". They're more like an independent photography business. They operate on a professional sales basis with a wide range of clients.

Journalism

The journalism element in photojournalism is derived from the fact that photojournalism is based on journalistic themes. This is a type of work which incorporates individual style, composition and production ideas into journalism. A photojournalis article may include:

  • A specialist series of photos on a particular topic or theme
  • Carefully presented pictures depicting people, events, or situations
  • A related sequence of pictures telling a story
  • A feature on a specific person related to a news topic or magazine subject
  • Photos linked to a text feature

Because most photojournalists are freelancers working on contracts or sales, this is a sales-based work environment. The nature of the market means that photojournalists must operate on a strictly business oriented, well organized basis. They must calculate their rate of payment, covering costs and selecting subjects for good market potentials.

Salary and Hours: Highly variable, based on sales. The hours are extremely long, including a lot of travel and production work.

The Career Environment

This is a "portfolio" career. The portfolio is the photojournalist's stock in trade, evidence of skills and ability to handle subjects. Published works are the defining professional status of the photojournalist. Some photojournalists have portfolios which can literally get them a job anywhere. They have a lot of job mobility and flexibility, and can work on multiple contracts. They can also operate as photographers for news organizations, with the photojournalism component built in. Photojournalism is a potentially very lucrative career with multiple income options:

  • Photojournalists often pick up extra contracts by reputation. They're hired on the basis of their past work, style, or other characteristics of their work.
  • In the journalistic field, photojournalists can often operate as text journalists as well, producing entire articles, and generating more income.

Each of these roles and functions adds to the photojournalist's portfolio and reputation. Career progression is based on the portfolio, which adds to career options and potentials as it evolves.