What Does A Photojournalist Do?

"I am interested in a career that will enable me to put my knowledge about cameras and skill in taking good pictures to use. I just don’t want to take boring shots of nature or events that are scripted. I want something more dynamic. When I told this to my school counselor, she said I should consider being a photojournalist. I was about to ask her more about it but she had an emergency to attend to and our conversation was never finished. So I’m asking you guys for help. What does a photojournalist do?"

asked by Natasha M. from Indiana, Pennsylvania

A photojournalist is also called a news photographer. The main job of photojournalists is to get both still photos and video segments of events, people and places that are worthy of being placed in the news. Their work can appear in different kinds of print publications—such as newspapers, journals or magazines—as well as on broadcast media like television and new media like the Internet.

Photojournalists don’t just take pictures. They take dynamic pictures that capture important events as they unfold. If a writer describes a news story with words, the photojournalist uses his lenses to tell the story, often with compelling photographs taken from different angles as the events unfold. They capture the moment as it progresses and produce images that appeal to both the hearts and minds of the readers.

In order to be able to capture the essence of a situation, photojournalists must be present at the scene of the event while it is happening. This can mean putting their lives in danger in order to get that perfect shot.

The kinds of events they cover are also inherently dangerous so it’s a career that sends them in riots, war zones and disaster-afflicted areas. Photojournalists need to be healthy, alert and physically and mentally sharp.

The job of photojournalists doesn’t end after taking pictures. They have to write the descriptions, captions and headlines to the various photos they have taken. If there is a need to enhance some pictures, they will have to edit them using software for this purpose. In case they have taken video segments, they will have to prepare the accompanying audio for these.

Photojournalists may be assigned to take pictures in different parts of the country and the world so travel is involved in this occupation. They may need to attend meetings with the rest of the editorial staff where they can pitch story ideas. Photojournalists must also be ready any time news needs to be covered. This is a job that requires them to the scene of the action day or night.

They must be very knowledgeable with the tools of their trade. They must not only have a camera but extra batteries, light sources, chargers and other materials as well. In case the place where they will be doing their job does not have electricity to charge digital cameras, photojournalists may need to bring traditional film cameras along.

Career Spotlight: Photojournalist

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