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Starting as a photojournalist...

I’ve been interested in pursuing photojournalism for a few years now. I think I have a fair amount of photos to start looking for work, although I haven’t setup a website yet. I’m just not sure the best route to take to start finding work. I’m interested in working on social and environmental issues. I’ve thought of contacting ngo’s but I’m not sure if that’s the best place to look for work. I would really like to work internationally. Is that unrealistic starting off? Can any offer suggestions of how to get into the business?
All advice will be greatly appreciated.

by Benjamin Dunn at 2013-04-10 20:54:11 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Unless you are trust-funded, your time will be better spent seeing a psychiatrist. PJ’s who have many years of experience, contacts, etc. are suffering severely. To enter with no contacts nor experience will truly be swimming upriver.

by Richard Lord | 11 Apr 2013 09:04 | Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya | | Report spam→
Unless you are trust-funded, your time will be better spent seeing a psychiatrist. PJ’s who have many years of experience, contacts, etc. are suffering severely. To enter with no contacts nor experience will truly be swimming upriver.

by Richard Lord | 11 Apr 2013 09:04 | Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya | | Report spam→
Unless you are trust-funded, your time will be better spent seeing a psychiatrist. PJ’s who have many years of experience, contacts, etc. are suffering severely. To enter with no contacts nor experience will truly be swimming upriver.

by Richard Lord | 11 Apr 2013 09:04 | Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya | | Report spam→
Start local, look for stories and develop a nose for them – network with local publications then move up the ladder.
Needed skills are landscape photography, portraits, environmental portraits, protests, architecture/interiors etc etc. Make sure you have these and are confident and well experienced in them. You may only have 5 minutes to make a portrait and find you need lighting so learn how to use the on/off camera flash to the max (bounce flash, fill flash etc)
Get your portfolio together, preferably printed as well as online, Go see editors with the prints!
For NGO’s you need to show you are reliable and can handle the work so get out and do some travel photography/self assignments

Its tough out here with a shrinking market that is willing to pay and the more and more photographers wanting the work. even the competition “For Free” is high

by Gary Austin | 11 Apr 2013 10:04 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
You have a long and hard road ahead, especially in today’s climate. But, who knows, lightning could strike.

Read this as a starter: http://www.lightstalkers.org/posts/advice_for_young_photographers

It’s a classic.

Also, if you want to do international stuff, first get some serious practical guidance. I suggest that you try to attend the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop. It’s affordable and you meet some really great photographer instructors.

But if you haven’t even set up your Web site, you have a lot of infrastructure to set up. Get going.

by Neal Jackson | 12 Apr 2013 14:04 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
I kind of blush giving any kind of advice on this subject, so I’ll give you the same advice I was given by my guitar mentor years ago, which IMHO applies for (almost) anything: be ready, be prepared. Because when a chance gets on the way, the one that jumps first, the one that was ready for it, is the one who gets it. Last year there was a major train crash down here. I had other things to do, but cancelled everything and went to shoot, even when I didn’t have any idea if I would be able to do anything with those pictures: every single newspaper and agency had their photographer there, every TV network was there. I was returning home when the phone rang. An american friend that asked me if I had pictures of the crash, because ZUMApress was looking for that pictures. I had, and so I started stringing for them. It’s not that I’m making lots of money, but I’m getting published regularly, and it opened some interesting doors.
I also second Neal’s advice, Foundry is great. I attended in 2011 here in Buenos Aires, and would have done it again if it weren’t as expensive as it is to travel from here. Not only you do get to work with amazing photojournalists, you network with photographers from all around the globe. That’s priceless.
And set up a website, even if it’s something free and simple as a Tumblr page. Put a link to your site in your signature and be consistent in how you present yourself (you better read this: http://thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com.ar/2013/01/pov-travel-photographers-business.html) he knows his stuff and explains it way better than I can…
Of course, it all starts with what Gary says: being prepared means you have those needed skills, so you want to be able to deliver what you offer.
Last but not least: don’t work for free. Don’t buy the “you’ll get exposure” crap. When they get a budget, they’ll hire the one that turned them down rather than the one that worked for free.

by Patricio Murphy | 12 Apr 2013 15:04 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Join the NPPPA (focus on the ethics part right away, they are the commandments)
Take Your Camera where ever you go no matter what anyone says or thinks
Have a game for filing your photos at all times——mifi or the closest starbucks, whatever it is make it solid
List out in your head local editors and anyone you want to work with or that you can work with—-their names and contact info—
Think about stories they might want or be interested in
Find those stories
Shoot the stories
Contact editors
Constantly repeat the above four items
I guarantee thee are probably several hundred stories you could do within 5 miles of where you live
Make a sim out of every news story you see and think about how you would shoot it and compare it to what was done
As soon as you start thinking “Hey that would be a nice photo…” Drop everything and go take it…
Learn your camera inside and out—-can you change the iso, the f stop, the shutter speed and move the pip with out looking?
Learn your flash so you can shoot in the dark or in the shade of a tree on a crazy sunny day
Always have a roll of quarters for the meter or cash to park
Stow the basic needs in the care—-water, fig newtons, pillow and sleeping bag, tp, paper towels
Also a change of clothes, rain poncho
Learn your rights in regard to shooting in public and private areas
Look at every PJ/News book you can get your hands on and do it all the time, everyday, every moment (used, most are a dollar)
Pen and note pad with you at all times and ALWAYS answer your phone
Get your shots and get out—-
Yes is a green light, get your shot before it turns to a redlight——
Never show your photos to a subject and NEVER delete a photo in your camera for anyone
No is really a yellow light that for you will never turn red, so wait for it to turn to a green light or shoot from another angle
When shooting, don’t get in anyone’s way and don’t let anyone get in yours
Your job is shooting, editing your best shots and filing on deadline and thats it—-
Don’t get angry, upset, impatient or cranky while shooting——don’t become the news
Be realistic and on time with editors no matter what—-a deadline is a deadline—-photos in 15 means 15
Run to the photo not away from it—-unless they have a sword or a gun, then get some shots but stay ahead of them
Stand your ground
Find a Mentor
Plan a personal project that will take at least 2 years to do
Find a niche and work it until you are known for it
Get published as fast as you can and keep doing it
Don’t EVER go back to the barn without the shot—Ever—-
Be kind and gentle to everyone at all times——even the guy in your way or the pissed off cop, just get the shot
Expect to do the above for 2 to 4 years before it cracks open in any way for you——depends on how hard you work and your market
You won’t know what you are doing for 5 years where you can handle anything that comes along and maybe winging 20 percent of it
Seven to ten years and you can do it all the time no matter what and where ever you are, and do it safely on every assignment and make a living at it
The above is not for everyone but its a good baseline, adapt, improvise and overcome where needed and where you can.

Make sure the last photo on the card is a good one, if you get hit by a train on the way home, you don’t want a photo of your blurry feet to be at the funeral as the last shot you ever took—-oh, one other thing, learn how to spell, check your spelling and be sure you can write a damn good caption, like a damn olympic gold medal caption——editors love that——


I wrote this while in the bathroom—-I had time because there is no news in here right now, now I have to go out and find some news.


by David Bro | 12 Apr 2013 16:04 (ed. Apr 12 2013) | Orange County-Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
David, by “there is no news in here right now”… You mean your bathroom? :)

by Patricio Murphy | 12 Apr 2013 17:04 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
great posts :)

I second everything the others said, but this should be quoted again:

“don’t work for free. Don’t buy the “you’ll get exposure” crap.”

good luck, Benjamin

by Raffaela Lepanto | 12 Apr 2013 17:04 | | Report spam→
I am bit confused with the above all comment… as i liked the question..

by Tashi Namgyal | 12 Apr 2013 18:04 | Calcutta , India | | Report spam→

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Benjamin Dunn, Benjamin Dunn
North Carolina , United States ( RDU )
Richard Lord, Photographer Richard Lord
(Worldwide Corporate and NGO Ph)
Nairobi And Kisumu , Kenya
Gary Austin, Photojournalist Gary Austin
(British Photojournalist)
Derby , United Kingdom ( EMA )
Neal Jackson, Neal Jackson
(Flaneur, Savant and Scapegrace)
Washington, Dc , United States ( IAD )
Patricio Murphy, Musician, photographer Patricio Murphy
Musician, photographer
Buenos Aires , Argentina
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Raffaela Lepanto, photoeditor, photographer Raffaela Lepanto
photoeditor, photographer
[undisclosed location].
Tashi Namgyal, Media and Travel Fixer Tashi Namgyal
Media and Travel Fixer
Ladakh/Zanskar , India


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