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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 29 Aug 2009 (Saturday) 10:53
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Career in Photojournalism, realistic?

 
JAcosta
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Aug 29, 2009 10:53 |  #1

I want to become a photojournalist, specifically war photojournalism. Im 23 and currently in active duty in the US Air Force with about 2.5 years left on my enlistment. My goal is to ultimately become embedded with a Marine or Army unit, and I think my prior military background will help with that. With the last couple years or so in my contract, Im looking at completing as much of a degree in "PJism" as I can, and using the GI Bill to finish off my degree oince I get out.

My only concern is wondering if there's any furute left in it. I look through the Business of Photography forums and I see that more and more, magazines and newspapers are buying stock photo/flickr/smugmug photos for their articles. Its seeming like photojournalism is a career that is going by the wayside as more and more mooks buy DSLRs and are willing to let publishers use their photos for free just because its "cool" to be published.

Im not afraid to take up the challenge and work to get where I need to be. I am just worried that in 5-10 years there wont be a need for photojournalists anymore and I'd be out of a job. I figure at that point Ill just have to settle for weddings/senior portraits types of gigs (not saying there's anything wrong with it, I just dont have a passion for it).

What do you guys think?


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20droger
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Aug 29, 2009 11:08 |  #2

If that's what you want to do, then go for it. Learn your craft. Start small (local events) and work your way up. Obviously, you'll have to go where the action is. And not all events are going to be covered by "mooks." There will always be a market for good photos. (Mooks don't win Pulitzers.)

As to there being a future in wartime photojournalism, yes, there is one. There will always be wars, unfortunately.




  
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airfrogusmc
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Aug 29, 2009 11:15 as a reply to  @ 20droger's post |  #3

I think things are changing rapidly in the world of PJ. I think that a lot of the traditional type news papers and magazines (print) will still need images even though that area is now in a decline. The internet and web type media is still trying to find its way and I think once things like UP gets it all figured out there could be even more PJ opportunity. :confused: As it stands now most of the traditional media have been laying off.

PS thanks for your service.




  
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advaitin
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Aug 29, 2009 11:19 |  #4

You'll have to multitask. Fortunately, the newer cameras coming out have made it possible to combine the best of video and still shooting in one piece of equipment. I expect an upcoming version of the 1D series of pro cameras will have video capability by the time you are ready to enter the biz. This will make it possible to sell to many outlets--sell being the operative word, you must sell to eat and to continue doing what you want to do.

You'll also need to sharpen your typing skills. Learn to self-correct as you write.

Check out

www.zoriah.com (external link)

to see a working pro who knows how to self-market.


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airfrogusmc
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Aug 29, 2009 11:23 as a reply to  @ advaitin's post |  #5

Also there are many other areas that you can use PJ skills besides weddings that can be very lucrative and rewarding.




  
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JAcosta
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Aug 29, 2009 11:25 |  #6

20droger, Thats the thing about war photography. You want wars to end but at the same time you dont want to bve out of a job.

airfrogusmc, Id like to hope that there will still be tangible magazines and newspapers. At least I think in third world countries, print will be around for a long time. I dont want to work there, though.

advaitin, I too see the future PJ as a photographer and videographer. Its just the name of the game as cameras are now going to have high quality video features along with high quality still photo capabilities. My typing skills are fine, this is just an internet forum ;)


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yogestee
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Aug 29, 2009 11:37 |  #7

JAcosta wrote in post #8544312 (external link)
20droger, Thats the thing about war photography. You want wars to end but at the same time you dont want to bve out of a job.

airfrogusmc, Id like to hope that there will still be tangible magazines and newspapers. At least I think in third world countries, print will be around for a long time. I dont want to work there, though.

advaitin, I too see the future PJ as a photographer and videographer. Its just the name of the game as cameras are now going to have high quality video features along with high quality still photo capabilities. My typing skills are fine, this is just an internet forum ;)

Living and working in a developing country (3rd world country is now politically incorrect) is a wonderful thing if you are that kind of person..

My background is in photojournalism, I worked for a newspaper for 17 years but now I'm teaching ESL.. I do voluteer work for various NGOs here in Laos plus the occasional paid gig..I'm shooting a project at the moment on street kids for an NGO.. Volunteer your services to various organisations to get your name out there,,specialising in certain genres doesn't hurt either..

I approached one of the ministries (can't tell you which one) to get the go ahead to document some of the ethnic groups but was rejected because of the politically sensitive nature of my project..


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advaitin
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Aug 29, 2009 11:52 as a reply to  @ JAcosta's post |  #8

advaitin, I too see the future PJ as a photographer and videographer. Its just the name of the game as cameras are now going to have high quality video features along with high quality still photo capabilities. My typing skills are fine, this is just an internet forum [/QUOTE wrote:
=advaitin, I too see the future PJ as a photographer and videographer. Its just the name of the game as cameras are now going to have high quality video features along with high quality still photo capabilities. My typing skills are fine, this is just an internet forum ;)

Yes, I hear this all the time. And I have a friend who has always worked as a PJ, whose skills with a keyboard are atrocious, yet he sells work just fine. I only say these things because our habits are hard to overcome. If you have a habit of not bothering to edit your social communication, how well will you perform if you are working under deadline and other pressures? It's my firm belief that practice makes perfect--or close to perfect. I'm not trying be hypercritical, just constructive in my advice.

I once took a budding reporter out to a crash site near Mountain Home AFB. The F-111 had lost power just after take-off and crashed on public property. The local paper was holding the presses for the story. I shot photos while the reporter (non-military female) bumbled around asking stupid questions. I knew the PAO people and got the information I needed for the caption and, consequently, the story.

We went back to the news office and I processed the film and wet-printed a screened half-tone for the front page in about 15 minutes. When I went to the front the young lady was still trying to figure out how to write the story. I sat down and typed out a straight-forward lead and three paragraph full story with all the details available at that moment and handed it to her--under her byline. She later won an award for spot news for the article.

The ability to accurately work under pressure does not come automatically. You have to discipline yourself constantly.


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DennisW1
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Aug 29, 2009 12:02 |  #9

advaitin wrote in post #8544457 (external link)
Yes, I hear this all the time. And I have a friend who has always worked as a PJ, whose skills with a keyboard are atrocious, yet he sells work just fine. I only say these things because our habits are hard to overcome. If you have a habit of not bothering to edit your social communication, how well will you perform if you are working under deadline and other pressures? It's my firm belief that practice makes perfect--or close to perfect. I'm not trying be hypercritical, just constructive in my advice.

I once took a budding reporter out to a crash site near Mountain Home AFB. The F-111 had lost power just after take-off and crashed on public property. The local paper was holding the presses for the story. I shot photos while the reporter (non-military female) bumbled around asking stupid questions. I knew the PAO people and got the information I needed for the caption and, consequently, the story.

We went back to the news office and I processed the film and wet-printed a screened half-tone for the front page in about 15 minutes. When I went to the front the young lady was still trying to figure out how to write the story. I sat down and typed out a straight-forward lead and three paragraph full story with all the details available at that moment and handed it to her--under her byline. She later won an award for spot news for the article.

The ability to accurately work under pressure does not come automatically. You have to discipline yourself constantly.

I realize it was a breaking story and as such often those are handed out to whoever simply happens to be available to cover it at the moment, but if this woman was so incompetent as a reporter what the hell was she doing even working there? If even after having all the facts handed to her she couldn't write a simple lead and brief story maybe she was in the wrong profession? That's pretty basic reporting skills.

And did she even share the award with you or give you proper credit for saving her ass?




  
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advaitin
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Aug 29, 2009 12:09 |  #10

DennisW1 wrote in post #8544500 (external link)
I realize it was a breaking story and as such often those are handed out to whoever simply happens to be available to cover it at the moment, but if this woman was so incompetent as a reporter what the hell was she doing even working there? If even after having all the facts handed to her she couldn't write a simple lead and brief story maybe she was in the wrong profession? That's pretty basic reporting skills.

And did she even share the award with you or give you proper credit for saving her ass?

Ha! That was the Mountain Home News. The editor at that time was a joke, the reporting staff was exactly two people and the other reporter was less experienced than the woman. The most experienced person on the paper was the business manager who could have written the story in ten minutes, but office politics (she was a holdover from the previous ownership) put her in a non-editorial spot.

No, I never got credit for the story. The doofus in charge felt it was important for her self-esteem. I had my share of awards from the Idaho Press Assn.


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DennisW1
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Aug 29, 2009 12:13 |  #11

advaitin wrote in post #8544271 (external link)
You'll have to multitask. Fortunately, the newer cameras coming out have made it possible to combine the best of video and still shooting in one piece of equipment. I expect an upcoming version of the 1D series of pro cameras will have video capability by the time you are ready to enter the biz. This will make it possible to sell to many outlets--sell being the operative word, you must sell to eat and to continue doing what you want to do.

You'll also need to sharpen your typing skills. Learn to self-correct as you write.

Check out

www.zoriah.com (external link)

to see a working pro who knows how to self-market.


And a lot of the video is still pretty poor in quality compared to "real" video gear.
I certainly hope that Canon does NOT include video in the 1D series cameras. First of all as a personal opinion I have no interest in shooting video. If I did I would buy the proper gear to do the job.
Secondly, and I wonder if anyone has considered this: Originizations like MLB for example, have very strict rules prohibiting the use of news gathering video equipment shooting game action. Would the video capability of such cameras make them unacceptable for use by photogs covering such events? Realistically it would almost have to be, as how would they enforce such a ban when it becomes impossible to distinguish a DSLR being used by the PJ's from the Betacam or P2 camera being used by a local news station? It could well open up a very large can of worms for a capability that is questionable at best in such a camera.




  
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advaitin
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Aug 29, 2009 13:29 |  #12

DennisW1 wrote in post #8544548 (external link)
And a lot of the video is still pretty poor in quality compared to "real" video gear.
I certainly hope that Canon does NOT include video in the 1D series cameras. First of all as a personal opinion I have no interest in shooting video. If I did I would buy the proper gear to do the job.
Secondly, and I wonder if anyone has considered this: Originizations like MLB for example, have very strict rules prohibiting the use of news gathering video equipment shooting game action. Would the video capability of such cameras make them unacceptable for use by photogs covering such events? Realistically it would almost have to be, as how would they enforce such a ban when it becomes impossible to distinguish a DSLR being used by the PJ's from the Betacam or P2 camera being used by a local news station? It could well open up a very large can of worms for a capability that is questionable at best in such a camera.

Two of my cameras have video capability, G9 and 5DM2, and I used it exactly once on the G9. There are a lot of functions available that you don't have to use to get an image. Current thinking among members of the NPPA, which represents both news and news video photographers, is that, since newspapers are already requiring staffers to bring back video for web sites as well as stills for the paper, the pros will need dual purpose equipment. So, the handwriting is on the wall.

How then, will the rules you mentioned be enforced? About the same as they are now--with a lawsuit here and there to keep shooters honest.


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JAcosta
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Aug 29, 2009 19:46 |  #13

Thanks for the responses guys, you definitely gave me some food for thought.

Ive decided Im still going to go through with it. Do you guys think a degree in photojournalism would be worth while as long as thats what Im pursuing? I figure I can minor in something with money/management as a fall back on in case PJ ultimately doesnt work out. Worse comes to worse I could go be a photography teacher haha.


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yogestee
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Aug 29, 2009 21:16 |  #14

JAcosta wrote in post #8546498 (external link)
Thanks for the responses guys, you definitely gave me some food for thought.

Ive decided Im still going to go through with it. Do you guys think a degree in photojournalism would be worth while as long as thats what Im pursuing? I figure I can minor in something with money/management as a fall back on in case PJ ultimately doesnt work out. Worse comes to worse I could go be a photography teacher haha.

Maybe not a degree in photography but some training in journalism will be of great benefit.. Photojournalism blends both photography and journalism.. There will be times when you will have to write as well as illustrate via your images..Believe me,,writing is much more difficult than taking photographs..

I would start off doing some course in writing..


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dave ­ sparks
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Aug 29, 2009 22:08 as a reply to  @ yogestee's post |  #15

JAcosta,
Just did 24 years with the Air Force, first 11 as a booger hooker (crew chief) on fighters, last 13 in Hydraulics on heavies. Not sure about your AFSC now but ever consider cross training? Maybe a hitch as an AF PJ might open some doors. Go to their Tech School on their dime and get some cool practical hands on for your portfolio. Someone had to take that picture from an F-22 sliding up under a tanker. May open some doors later.

And for the record, no, I was never a recruiter.Just a thought.

Dave....


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Career in Photojournalism, realistic?
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