Any photojournalists? I have a few questions

Tyler Durden

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Jul 10, 2009
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Little bit of a background to maybe relate to or know of someone that is/has been in this situation.

I was considering school counseling for graduate school. My plan was to attend graduate school, get my masters in school counseling then hone my photography skills while traveling during summers. The end result would be after a number of years finding a full time photojournalist spot that was acquired from my work and leave school counseling in the past.

I feel as though the path I mentioned above involves me putting many limiting beliefs upon myself. I have began researching Indiana and Purdue Universities photography programs and returning to school as an undergraduate and pursuing my dream after a formal education.

Im a traveler. I love to travel and love to shoot. This is my dream job "from what I understand" and Im not scared to take some risks to make it happen. I did some searching for this topic before I posted this thread and one read that photo journalists seem to live in "never never land". The post was mentioning that with most people life gets in the way, they have to grow up. My nickname my friends gave me is stray, because I always do my own thing and travel. I havnt lived in the same city for longer than 8 months at a time for the last 8 1/2 years. Does this sound familiar to any of you, anyone you know?

For those who have defied the odds and are out shooting and traveling can I please have some basic ups and downs of the job. Was there a dark time/times where you doubted yourself? Be it your skills or missing loved ones. Did you pursue a formal education as I am considering?

For those who gave up on the dream. Did you feel as though it was not practical? Did you choose a family or a steady income over something that was not so certain? Do you ever regret your decision?

Sorry for the book guys/gals. I havnt told my family yet and only a few friends. Not that my family would look down upon me because I am considering this, if anything they would encourage it. Its more along the lines that I still havnt done much research on photojournalists actual lifes, not the preconceived notions that many have.
I'm only a photojournalist on nights and weekends so my opinions won't bring much to the table, but it sounds like it's something you really want to do, not something you feel you have to do. There's a big difference.

I'm lucky, my day job is something I enjoy. Almost never "don't want to go to work" that day. I still make ok money, but not what I think I could be making if I were doing other things. But that's ok, I'm very happy and have plenty of time to watch my kids grow. Quickly.

Seems to me if it's your passion to be out there doing PJism and you're ok with not having everything you want (but having everything you need) then you're obviously making a great choice for yourself.

Good luck with what ever you decide.
There's some ****-hot guys on the web active in forums, but they long ago were ran off this site by the usual drones and dissatisfied trolls. Ask this on some of the other photo forums out there.

I'm not sure I understand what you want to do. Are you interested in "travel" photography, traveling around doing street photography or some sort of on spec type of photojournalism? The reason I ask is I don't know any photojournalists who constantly travel around shooting assignments.

For instance, the Turnley brothers both work out of Paris. True, they are rarely there, but it is their home. A woman named Ami Vitale worked out of India for a number of years and has recently returned to the states. AP staff and contract photographers are all based in some city where they do most of their assignments.

Photojournalists don't really live in "never, never land." It's a hard profession and is getting harder and harder to find work in every day. Not that it can't be done, but the chance of just traveling around until you have enough experience to get a full-time job, in my opinion, is a pie-in-the-sky idea. Newspapers don't hire people to do that, NGOs want a working relationship with shooters, magazines sometimes do hire shooters on spec, but usually they want an article to go with the photos, i.e. an entire package, and websites, at this time, just don't pay enough to make it economically feasible.

I guess it's possible to pop from one war zone to another on your own nickel until someone notices you to work. I know an AP photographer who went to Guatemala as a contract photographer, from there went to Africa where he was in the right place at the right time to end up being hired full time by AP. He now bases out of Jerusalem and works all over the Middle East and Europe. But again, he made his rep in the 90s, now it's much harder.

I'm not trying to discourage you from your dreams, just trying to give you a dose of reality.

Here's my suggestion and you can take it with as much as you are paying for it. If you want to pursue a career in photojournalism, find a school where you can take some classes in news photography. Art or commercial photography won't do. If you decide you like it, look into going to a school that has a photoj major. You will find incredible networking possibilities by going this route. You will need to learn video as well as still photography, whether you like it or not. No one is hiring photojournalists without video experience these days. If you decide you want practical experience rather than a school experience, purchase some good equipment (Nikon D300s or above, a 12-24, 24-70 and 70-200, etc), go to local events and hone your skills at street photography, portraits and sports photography. Try to hook up with a local paper to do freelance work for them. It might work into something full-time, or at least a leg up on doing work for other publications/websites.

Seriously, without a rep, you will find it hard to get anyone to look at your photos as you travel around. You need to be based somewhere so people can see what you do on a more permanent basis.

Good luck.
I'm a full-time photojournalist. I spend 40+ hours a week as chief photog for a daily paper and I spend much of my downtime working on my own documentary projects. I can give you some insight on what it's done to my life.

It's an incredibly stressful job. I'm tied to a police scanner all the time and it's not uncommon for me to leave social events for breaking news. Work most every holiday. And my last two relationships ended because of the dedication the job takes. It's also not a high paying job. I've seen a lot of really terrible stuff that most people go their whole lives without seeing. But eventually you get use to it and it doesn't bother you much if at all.

But the job does have it's perks. I'm not a world-traveling photojournalist yet but I have been able to go a lot of places and do a lot of cool things because of the job. And despite the stress and horrible things I see, I wouldn't do anything else. I love every second of it.

If you go to school you're more likely to get a job if you major in journalism(the writing kind) and fine tune you photo skills on your own time. You'll also need to know how to do video, slideshows, etc. These days you're not getting a job as a photographer if you don't have multimedia skills.

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