TimHphotovideo wrote in post #15804469
I have wondered how does someone become a freelance Newspaper Photographer? I am just curious as to how it all comes about. Is it a day to day 9-5 sort of thing? - If so I would love to get into that!!! When looking at a newspaper I see many photos and they are all coming from different places in the area. Knowing that these papers are issued daily, I would imagine that there are a handful of staffed photographers out in the field capturing photos...Right? Anyone can chime in if you are knowledgeable or know what direction to point me in to get more information on this subject. Thanks in advance...
Hi Tim,,, I worked as a fulltime photographer for a medium size daily for 17 years from 1990 until I resigned and moved overseas in mid 2007. I also had a fortnightly column which I did both the writing and photography for. I was paid freelance rates for the column above my normal salary.
I had known the photographers at the 'paper for quite some time before working for the newspaper. I had a commercial photography business at the time and knew the guys socially and professionally. I had been offered jobs twice at the newspaper but knocked them back because my business was doing well and I was also studying commercial photography at college level. The third job offer the newspaper daggled to carrot, so I took the gig.
The newspaper employed 11 full-timers and two casuals. Two of the full-timers were women. At the time the department had something like 220 years of total continuous service. A couple of guys had over 35 years experience with the newspaper. Photographers, once employed at a newspaper just don't leave. Being highly unionised as newspapers are in Australia, salaries and conditions are excellent. You also get to "play" with some top shelf equipment.
Our "standard" kit at the time was a 1DMkII/20D or 30D backup, EF 16-35mm f/2.8 or 17-40mm f/2.8, EF50mm f/2.5 macro, EF70-200mm f/2.8, Canon 1.4x TC, two 580EX Speedlights, Toshiba laptop with aircard,,all which we could take home for personal use. We also has a locker full of specialised gear EF 800mm f/5.6, 200mm f/2 and everything in between. Enough gear to make a Canon fanboy cream his shorts. The newspaper was part of a much larger organisation, so money wasn't an issue. Gear is updated as needed or when new models came out. Quite a few guys used their own gear also, especially lenses. I often used my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 and old Metz 45CT1 (fantastic flash especially if I was shooting quickly at a press conference)
We'd work three shifts which were rotated,,including weekends. The first shift would start at 8.00am and the last shift would finish at 10.30pm. We were allowed a couple of hours at the end of the shift to file our images, sometimes we would file from home via the company intranet. Filing images onsite was a common practice from our laptops via an aircard. 8.30 hours a day with one hour for lunch over a 38 hour week. We would often be rostered off during the week with two or three days off consecutively, depending on which shift you came off. We also had a fleet of company cars assigned to the photography department.
The work varies depending on what is news worthy. For example, you might shoot a press conference in the morning or maybe a vox pop after. In the afternoon maybe police rounds or school sport. It's so variable. One photographer would usually hang back at the office in case of an emergency. We also had a couple of police scanners in the office. In short,, assignments varied from day to day. Jobs were assigned by the boss, but many of the guys had their speciality. One photographer was a brilliant basketball photographer and had won many awards. Weekends was busy because of sport and social functions.
Getting full-time jobs in newspapers, especially in Australia is difficult. Photography has the lowest staff turn over of any department in a newspaper. Great job, high salaries and great conditions. Photographer's salary rates are in line with journalists salary rates, and paid depending on the grade.
I had a quick scout around for salary rates. A grade 1 photographer is on about $770.00 per week before tax,, a grade 13 photographer $1465.00 before tax. These are Australian awards and for full-time photographers. Freelance rates are much higher.