What Is Photojournalism?

Journalism is the practice of reporting newsworthy events. Traditional journalism typically involves painting a picture of a newsworthy situation with words. Many times, these stories will be accompanied by a few pictures. Photojournalism, on the other hand, is the practice of creating a visual representation of a newsworthy event with several dynamic photographs.

The photographs that a photojournalist takes are not usually easy to shoot. Instead of taking photographs of just objects and people photojournalists will try to get shots that are extremely difficult, unusual, or possibly even dangerous. Photojournalists will usually take pictures of newsworthy events as they are happening, and these pictures are often supposed to make the viewers feel intense emotions. For example, photojournalists may take pictures of riots in process or disaster survivors.

Different news media publications will usually use the photographs used by photojournalists, including magazines, newspapers, and websites. Some photojournalists’ pictures might even be compiled into a commemorative book.

Work Environment

A photojournalist takes pictures of newsworthy events as they are happening. In order to these types of shots, a photojournalist must have excellent timing and be ready for anything. Many times, if a photojournalist is a second too early or too late, he won’t get the shot. In some instances, capturing these types of photographs may even involve an element of danger.

Since photojournalism is such a fast paced career, these professionals must be very quick on their feet and in good physical shape. This career often involves pushing one’s body to the limits. For example, a photojournalist will often travel frequently and stay in less than ideal areas, including third world countries and war zones.

A photojournalist will also need to lug camera equipment around as well. This will usually include equipment like cameras, extra batteries, external light sources, and chargers. Depending on where a photojournalist is shooting, he might also need to carry a traditional film camera, along with extra rolls of film. For example, this type of photography equipment may be needed in areas where charging a digital camera isn’t possible.

Education Requirements

A formal education is not always necessary in order to pursue a photojournalism career. A photojournalism career, however, can give most aspiring photojournalists the skills that they need to jumpstart their careers.

Typically, individuals interested in a photojournalism career will earn degrees in photography or journalism. Many schools, however, offer specific photojournalism degree programs. Students who earn photojournalism degrees will usually take photography courses, as well as journalism courses like news writing and journalism ethics.

It takes a special type of person to become a photojournalist.

A good photojournalist, for example, must be a very persistent type of person. He should be willing to go to great lengths to get not just good photographs, but great photographs. The best photojournalists are also fearless, and they shouldn’t be afraid to take a few chances.

In many instances, a photojournalist’s job will require capturing the worst moments in a person’s life as well as very volatile situations. In some cases, the events that photojournalists witness can be very emotionally draining and disturbing. Because of this, successful photojournalists must be able to deal with these types of stressful situations in a healthy manner.

Salary and Job Outlook


The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t record data specifically pertaining to photojournalist salaries, but it does record salary data of very similar professions. Professional photographers, for instance, made an average annual salary of around $32,490 in 2017. Those that worked for periodical publishers, like newspaper and magazine publishers, made around $40,580 in that same year.

Job Outlook

The majority of photojournalists work as freelancers. These professionals travel from place to place and attempt to capture shocking pictures of newsworthy events, which they then attempt to sell to media outlets, such as magazines and newspapers. Some national publications will also occasionally hire staff photographers to work as photojournalists.

Helpful Resources

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