So you want to be a photojournalist.

You or one of your kids wants to be a photojournalist, consider carefully. We get a lot of would be wannabe photographers through our doors. Or asking about job opportunities via email. Lately there has been a whole bunch with dreams of becoming a photojournalist. I’m not sure why. I guess it does sound rather glamorous. Traveling around, getting paid to go to all sorts of exotic places. Meeting people from all cultures. Living the lifestyle. On the other hand I always think of the old saying about joining the army. It went something like this. Join the army, travel the world, meet new and interesting people…. and kill them. I’ve been in this game for a long time. Most of that time, the photojournalist’s I have known, have worked very hard, and made very little money. Today with media and communications changing rapidly. The lot of the photojournalist is not improving. Jobs are getting fewer and fewer. Real hard core photo stories are becoming more dangerous for less and less money. This week in Mexico, four journalists were pulled from a canal. They hadn’t been in for a swim. Killed presumably because the had poked their collective noses into some drug lords business. Or maybe they were seen as a possible threat. Today I read in a magazine, that a French photojournalist with ten years experience, spent 2 terrifying weeks in the same area as the above four were found. He shot for a widely recognised agency. He was surprised however, that after risking everything for a picture story. He actually lost money doing the job. So two weeks working in a place where his life meant nothing, for photos that were important, but not enough that anyone would fork out good money for them, he was out of pocket $1500 During the last half of 2011 he also covered two war zones. Literally dodging bullets and incoming heavy arms fire. Working obscene hours under appalling conditions. For what. He made about the same as a kid working part time at the local super market. Then at the end of last year this same photojournalist was assigned to shoot a political sex scandal. A job that cost him next to nothing to shoot. Involved nothing more than waiting for said politician to turn up, snap a couple of pics, days work done. You know what I’m going to tell you next. Yup, he made more from that assignment than any other for the year. It seems teaching photojournalism is the flavour of the month. I often wonder why people rush into studying and devoting themselves to a future career. A career that may not even exist by the time they complete their studies. I’m not saying photojournalism is dead, but we should think about the future possibilities of our chosen path. Ask questions of people who should know before embarking on a course of study that potentially may lead nowhere. As a footnote to this. Editorial shooting is suffering a fair bit as well. A friend, who is a good shooter. Recently related to me that compared with ten years ago, he is now paid half the page rate he was back then. Same work, obviously higher costs but half the pay. When I asked, why with his experience didn’t he just say no, I want to be paid fairly. He said simply, there’s always someone who’ll do it cheaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.