There are a variety of paths those wishing to pursue a career in photojournalism can take. Some of the basic skills you will need include, of course, photography, but also writing, people skills, often business skills, and an interest and knowledge about the industry you would like to photograph. Often this can be politics, international affairs, nature, or other areas.
One of the most obvious routes to becoming a photojournalist is to simply pursue a photojournalism degree at a university. Some are focused more on media and communications, while others are specialized on the artistic side – choose the one that is right for you and will expose you to the type of industries you are interested in focusing on. Another option is to minor in photography or hone those skills yourself and take a degree in disciplines such as journalism, public relations, political sciences, sociology, or any other subject that might interest you.
Of course, you also have the option of self-teaching. This will save you a lot of money, but beware of the discipline that it will require, as you will need to put in hours and hours of hard work on your own, with the help of books and the internet. In any case, but particularly for this path, it is recommendable to find a mentor who can help you along the way. There are also many photography workshops and local organizations that you can join in order to make up for the networking that you would have easier access to in school.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A FORMAL EDUCATION TO BECOME A PHOTOJOURNALIST?
- Boston University
Students at the College of Communication at BU may pursue a journalism BA with a concentration in Photojournalism. Besides traditional coursework, classes also include technology-related material. Other concentration options include magazine, broadcast, and online journalism. Master of Science level studies in journalism specialized in photojournalism are also available. Annual tuition is $46,664.
- Rochester Institute of Technology
The Department of Photographic Arts and Sciences at RIT offers a BFA in Photojournalism, as well as a wide range of other photography degrees. Students may also participate in an annual student trip to Washington and New York and become part of the NPPA chapter at RIT. Annual tuition here is $36,596.
- George Washington University
The Corcoran College of Art and Design, through its School of Arts and Design, offers students a BFA in Photojournalism. The program is often taught by working photographers and definitely provides the perfect location for field practice. The college also offers an MA in New Media Photojournalism, incorporating new multimedia platforms in its curriculum. Undergrads pay $48,760 per year.
- Central Michigan University
The Photojournalism program offered at the Central Michigan University’s College of Communication & Fine Arts, takes a strong focus on hands-on learning. Therefore, there is an advanced lab for practice, internship and in-school work opportunities to stimulate portfolio building and a variety of networking opportunities. In-state students pay $11,850 per year, while non-residents pay $23,670.
- Kent State University
While the School of Journalism and Mass Communication does not offer a photojournalism major, students may pursue it as a minor, or choose visual journalism or electronic media. They may obtain a degree in advertising, digital media, journalism, public relations, or a different area, such as political sciences or English. Ohio residents pay $10,012 per year, while out-of-state students pay $17,972.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
Just like most photography fields, photojournalism is very competitive. It is a rewarding profession that many seek, and you will face fierce competition when trying to get in. So what are some of the things you should do to make it easier to jump-start your career? First and foremost, participate before you even graduate, if you do decide to go to college. Get on your college newspaper, take internships, volunteer for non-for-profits, or get assistant positions with local photojournalism freelancers. This will give you a portfolio and a resume to show to potential employers and clients before you even graduate.
Another thing you should start doing early on in your career is networking. Join local and national organizations for photojournalists but also for those subjects that interest you professionally. This will help you begin building connections and can ultimately lead to references, joint projects or work directly. Within these groups, always have a professional image – that doesn’t mean to be the boring one, but if you do take on any projects or promise to deliver something, do so within the given timeline. Also, have business cards, a digital presence and an online portfolio you can share.