What is Photojournalism and why it matters in 2020?

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Historical times and stories have been immortalized through powerful images – the Burning Monk in Southern Vietnam in 1963, the lunching workmen on the top of the Rockefeller Centre in 1932 or the startling green eyes of the Afghan Girl from 1984. In today’s news media, photographs play a vital role as they help summarise for readers what has been written. The visual element to any story is critical in drawing a reader in and describing what it would have been like to be in any provided situation.

Even though journalism is evolving and the role and job description of the journalist are being renegotiated, pictures are still just as – or more – powerful than ever. Do you like taking photos and have a passion for news and capturing the moment? Then maybe a career in photojournalism is for you.

Here’s a little more information on what being a photojournalist involves:

What is photojournalism?

Photojournalism is a distinct branch of journalism that tells the news story through images, describing the event or news item. Photojournalism can also refer to the photographs that follow and demonstrate a news story.

How is photojournalism different from normal photography?

Photojournalism is significantly different from other types of photography as the photos must be contextual. In this sense, the images of a photojournalist must be timely and have meaning in connection to the event being recorded or the story they are intending to portray. Another important element of photojournalism is that the images must be accurate – the same objectivity rules apply as they do to written journalism in that they must be a fair and unbiased representation. Finally, a great photojournalism photo will offer some kind of narrative elements that will support and help tell the news story.

Different kinds of photojournalists:

Just as there are different types of journalists, photojournalists can also choose from a variety of different areas or stories to pursue. A photojournalist for a large newspaper might follow day to day stories and be sent out on assignment. Other photojournalists might cover war or foreign events and often be put in dangerous situations. Freelance photojournalists will choose stories or photo subjects that suit them, and then get them published in a variety of publications or media outlets. Whatever area or news type interests you, photojournalists have a choice in which stories and photographs they would like to pursue.

Naturally, photojournalists are visual reporters and have a responsibility to capture news and events in a fair, objective and interesting way that visually portrays the story. The increasingly online and interactive media world has ushered in the ‘citizen journalist’, who, with the proliferation of personal digital cameras, can submit amateur photographs to a range of news forums or social media networks. There is still an important place, however, for well crafted, professional photographs from photojournalists.

A range of available freelance photography courses caters to those wishing to pursue photojournalism as a career. Such courses cover the basics of photography (lighting, equipment, processing, etc.), as well as information on different media outlets, the importance of composition and how to build your career. Photography courses are a great way to kick-start your career as a successful photojournalist.

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