Photojournalism is a tough art that is filled with complexities. Photojournalism is something that we see regularly – on newspapers, magazines, and even our news feeds.
With cameras being available on all devices, photojournalism is quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon, with people uploading their videos and going viral online. People need to see news, and the one of the ways to share news is to share it through a picture.
While I specialize in architectural photography, I have a little bit of experience as a photojournalist for a small news website. If anyone wants to enter photojournalism and try their hand at making it into a career, here are some tips for beginners.
These tips also work well for concerned citizens who just want to try their hand at photojournalism. After all, citizen or street journalism nowadays is just as relevant as professional media coverage, especially if freedom of speech is on the line.
As a photo journalist, you need to be ever vigilant and keep your eye out for items of interest. While you will want to have your DSLR with you at all times, we all know that it is not always possible, considering the bulk of such cameras.
That is why I always keep a small point-and-click camera inside my purse – it shoots higher quality images than most kinds of cellphone cameras and will do in a pinch.
For example, I once witnessed someone who crashed into the car park barrier at a local park. Since I did not have my DSLR, I snapped some photos using my point-and-click camera before I ran off to help the man in the car.
It turns out that the man was drunk, but instead of checking what damage he caused to the car park barrier, he just backed off and drove away before I was able to run towards him.
I submitted the photo to a local newspaper, and the police were able to catch the man. He was charged with drunk driving and property damage for destroying the car park barrier.
In fact, it was thanks to my car park barrier crash photo that I landed a photojournalism job at that news site.
Take dynamic action shots
I once had to cover a story that will highlight a new business in our neighborhood – it was a video and board game café that was built on top of an old arcade.
I took a lot of photos of people playing games, both digital and analogue. I did not realize that board games were still popular among some people.
Our art director told me that I should have gone for more dynamic shots because he said pictures of people playing games were boring. I was confused, because they were just sitting there!
He then showed me the photos of my senior photographer of the same event – he took photos of people cheering as they win a game, of shots that framed the intense concentration of players as they shoot monsters on screen. It was much more interesting and dynamic than my boring shots.
Never edit photos beyond enhancing the color
Photojournalism is about realism. When I submitted my car park barrier crash photo, the newspaper asked for my permission to post it.
I originally gave them an edited photo that removed some debris from the foreground because I felt that they detracted from the composition, but they asked that I send them the raw images instead.
They enhanced the image a little but kept everything in place. I realized that when it comes to photojournalism, it is not about artistic license, but about realism. It was very different from the photos I took for photography class.