How much does photojournalism pay?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Paul H., Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Paul H.

    Paul H. Guest

    I'd like to get into photojournalism as a career, but I hear the pay is
    lousy. Well how much worse can it be than the $1000 a month I'm earning now
    as a souvenir photographer? I'd love to hear from anybody who really knows,
    someone who has actually earned their living as a freelance news
    photographer, at least for a while.
    Paul H., Apr 20, 2005
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  2. Paul H.

    Sheldon Guest

    A photojournalist would be someone who takes photos that go along with news
    stories, either written by the photog or someone else. Most magazines pay
    pretty well for photos that embellish a story. A full-time position with a
    newspaper or news service would pay far more than you are making now, but
    don't go shopping for Ferraris until you win a Pulitzer.

    Unfortunately the real money is in following around movie stars and selling
    photos to magazines like the Enquirer. That's were the big money is. One
    good shot can net you very big bucks. Why do you think those photogs are
    out there tripping all over each other.

    I managed one shot that made the front page of every newspaper in the world.
    The money was good, but it's really dog eat dog, with a lot of bribery
    involved and payoffs to get what you need.
    Sheldon, Apr 20, 2005
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  3. ------------

    As for regular paid, on a salary+benefits basis, employment in the field:
    With the hundreds of "baby" journalists being trained in the UK every year
    to a recognised entry level industry standard (NCTJ/BJTC/ect.,) and, indeed,
    this is training that is almost universally REQUIRED (by news publishers and
    broadcasters), there is little chance of actually working full time, if you
    could get someone to take you on at all, without such training. SOME
    freelance opportunities, however, can come to you or you can seek them
    out... but they won't replace, and would almost never equal, what you are
    making now.

    Even with the minimum "required" training the entry level work that would be
    on offer is little more than that of being a glorified tea boy (or girl) for
    the first year or two at pay levels below, and maybe far below, what you are
    making now.

    You could explore some of the freelance opportunities out there, PROVIDED
    that you can also write to an acceptable standard. As I do both of my own
    photography and writing of features as well as writing some news, I can tell
    you first hand that there are some months that I make more out of the
    writing than on photos; and other months when the position is the reverse.

    Best advice from me is not to give up the day job, but do have a look around
    to see if there is something more out there, that is... something additional
    to what you are now doing, that might be of interest and could generate some
    additional income.

    Journalist-North, Apr 20, 2005
  4. --------

    There have been times that I wanted to "shoot" (but not with a camera - LOL)
    the guy from Rex or BigPicture... I KNOW that unless I can get a more
    unique, or some exclusive, image that I am not going to sell one. The
    picture agencies can usually under-price the individual shooter on national
    or international stories, AND, they have the marketing wherewithall in place
    to leave everyone else in the dust.

    Generally, when I see one of them on the scene I take a few shots (just in
    case) but concentrate on doing and selling the written piece, and only hold
    out a bit of hope that my own images will actually appear with it - except,
    perhaps, in the case of breaking and evolving news when the event time line
    is important and I am there early (fires; explosions; accidents; plane
    crashes; and the like.) Then... I will do more pictures.

    As for chasing the cleb brats I gave up on that years ago... getting too old
    to play the "street" games. I often have better luck going for, and getting,
    one-on-one exclusive interviews or attending the organised press calls, and
    screw the pictures. I wind up with the "story" that Rex, BigPicture, et al,
    don't have to sell but that I can place for syndication.

    Journalist-North, Apr 20, 2005
  5. It will pay about as much as an actor. 95% work hard and get paid
    little. 4.5% get good pay. 0.5% get great pay. It is not all about their
    photographic abilities either.
    Joseph Meehan, Apr 20, 2005
  6. Just find a dirty little war some where and start taking pictures.
    Some of the greatest photographers were Phojo's, Carpa, Duncan, Page

    Here's a good place to learn more...


    "Take the glamour out of war! I mean how the bloody Hell
    can you do that? Go and take the glamour out of a Huey, go
    take the glamour out of a Sheridan....Can you take the
    glamour out of a Cobra or getting stoned on China Beach?...
    Oh war is good for you, you can't take the glamour out of
    of that. It's like trying to take the glamour out of sex,
    trying to take the glamour out of the Rolling Stones...I
    mean, you know that, it just can't be done."

    Tim Page to editor asking him to "finally
    take the glamour out of war.".
    From "Nam" by Tim Page
    John A. Stovall, Apr 20, 2005
  7. Paul H.

    Paul H. Guest

    Thanks, but actually I'm talking about working freelance for small
    newspapers, town weeklies for instance. You know: pictures of kids at the
    Lions Club pie eating contest, stuff like that. I'd love to hear from
    anyone out there who has real experience in that kind of photography.

    Right now I shoot weddings, business headshots and so forth. That doesn't
    pay enough, so I do seasonal work as a Santa Claus photographer, Easter
    Bunny photographer, souvenir photographer, etc. a couple of days a week.
    I'd like to move away from that and toward journalism, which is what I got
    my undergraduate degree in. I'm not looking to work for big regional
    newspapers or magazines, just smaller, local publications.

    Thanks to all for your suggestions.
    Paul H., Apr 20, 2005
  8. Don't sound like that would very interesting or would produce
    interesting photos. What you are describing sounds more like "filler"
    for a local paper than photojournalism.

    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    John A. Stovall, Apr 20, 2005
  9. Paul H.

    Paul H. Guest

    My post is about how much it pays, not whether it is interesting. I'm not a
    Pelton wannabe, just a practical guy trying to make a living at photography.
    I've been shooting the three B's of photography: brides, babes and babies.
    None of that is thrilling work, but it is better than my old
    computer-chained, cubical job.
    Paul H., Apr 20, 2005
  10. Paul H.

    Larry Guest

    The first step is to get to taking the photos..

    Then submit them (expect nothing but photo credit).. That gets you published,
    keep submitting, and if they use them, they may ask for something in
    particular.. Thats when the subject of money crops up. If they ask you to go
    someplace and shoot something, they will expect to pay (usually).

    If they like your work enough, they will pay for "assignments".

    Dont get discouraged. If you are getting Photo credit, and the shots are
    better than average, you will get noticed, and you may well end up with a
    Larry, Apr 20, 2005
  11. Paul H.

    Larry Guest

    Youve got to look for more than "filler" shots.. Almost any paper can get
    those for free.

    Remember that "Human Interest" does NOT equall "filler" its just that a lot
    of the "filler" you see happens to be "Human Interest".

    You gotta' get into the paper, or a magazine with stuff that is higher
    quality than average to get noticed .

    Two pictures

    1. A group of people bunched up and dressed for the cold, hunched over
    walking into the wind on a city street, in a blizzard. It is demonstrative of
    a nasty storm.

    2. A picture of that same street, in the same storm, with a elderly man
    alone, hunched against the cold, taking a break while shoveling snow, shovel
    leaning on his shoulder, with his breath hanging in a cloud in front of him,
    while he carefully winds dry rags around his hands to keep them warm.

    Its out there, hunt for it.

    You dont have to be a wannabe,, but to get the job you want takes work.

    You're already taking pictures, hunt for it, shoot it, submit it.

    What it pays is irrelavent, until you get the job.
    Larry, Apr 20, 2005
  12. Give this a try ...


    Komesho Nonyati! as we cross the firing line!!

    "Komesho Nonyati"
    from "The Recces"
    by Lourens Fourie
    John A. Stovall, Apr 20, 2005
  13. Paul H.

    Don Stauffer Guest

    I have known folks who do this kind of work for local small newspapers.
    It doesn't pay much at all. It is a minor supplement in income for them.

    They make primary livelihood doing free-lance journalism. It is a
    business. It takes a lot of work- business stuff. Actual photography
    can become a small part of job. And, these folks are certainly not
    getting rich- they do it 'cause they love the work and are their own
    boss. They also do their own writing. Even though some of their work
    is photo-essay stuff, it still takes writing.
    Don Stauffer, Apr 21, 2005
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