Then it’s like performing. We love the applause. When you see your name beneath a photo in a publication like The New York Times that’s read around the world by movers and shakers and policy makers, it’s a thrill. But, you must be committed to the process and believe that journalism makes a difference. Both the story and your art that accompanies it are going to affect people’s attitudes. That alone should keep you on course.

3). commitment.
You’ve got to love it. It can be emotionally draining. Many stories you cover can be painful--like having to apologize for intruding when someone has lost a loved one and asking for a cherished photograph to copy so readers can see what the person looked like. It’s a hard thing to intrude on someone’s grief. Then there is the very real element of danger. Every year professional photographers around the world are killed, not only in a war zone but locally. You walk the mean streets and some streets are meaner than others and the photographer is as much a target as the people who live in

Freelance Photojournalism- cont.

these communities. A reporter can take notes in the back of his head and when he gets to a quiet place can jot things down in a notebook. A photographer has to be out there and when you pick up your camera, you are focused on what is going on in front of you, not on the side or what’s behind you.”

4). Pride in your craft. There’s a saying in the police department that a day is seven hours and 50 minutes of boredom and 10 minutes of sheer terror. In the newspaper business you have four days a week of mundane work that you must try to make exciting and the adrenaline rush stories are few and far between. Every job you do, is important to the Publication you work for. Some are front-page stories while others are hidden deep inside the paper. But some editor is responsible for that story and to him or her, your picture is important even if it is simply a head and shoulders portrait. Every picture you take has your name under it and you have to be motivated by your own self-image. If you don’t do it well, then you’re in the wrong business and you will be found out in a hurry. Staffers will probably shoot four or five times as many pictures as will actually get published and may shoot hundreds of frames to get a single image in the paper.”

5). do your homework. “If you want to shoot for a newspaper, then read the newspaper. Read the stories. Look at the pictures. Do it consistently so you have an idea of how they do things. You can embarrass yourself and lose any chance of work if you walk in with samples of a portrait with somebody staring at the camera when that newspaper uses only “camera unconscious” portraits. The New York Times is a classic. Rarely will the subject be looking directly into the camera. Each paper has its own style and you should be up-to-date on their particular style. So know your market. The Times is extremely objective and does not use terms in their journalism that expresses how a reporter or photographer feels about a subject. It is strictly reportage. That is not to say that there is no emotion, but it must be balanced. Also, if you shoot the exceptional moment in an event and it is not truly representational of what is going on, then it is not what the paper wants.

“So there are parameters and those whose egos are disproportionate to their talents will have a hard time with these parameters. The paper may use a moody image or a detail rather than a full picture. Sometimes the need is for a photo to lead the story and provoke people into wanting to read it. Often a photo is used to illustrate a major point in a story while at other times it is just a factual photo that shows what a person looks like. Sometimes it will be a parallel photo, one that is similar but not mentioned and therefore expands the coverage of a story. A good photographer will give an editor all of these aspects as well as the nuts and bolts. When showing your portfolio it is a good idea to offer up a variety of choices--some verticals, some horizontals, some “wides,” and some tight details. If they are portraits, have your model face a little to the right, then to the left. Give the editor as many options as you can to suggest where a picture may fit.”

6). Finally, is the where and how to begin. The traditional route for most “wannabe” photojournalists is journalism school. Then there are people who monitor police scanners to listen for accidents. They race to the scene while things are fresh to get a few good photos, then see if a newspaper is interested. Another way is to find a niche, like music or dance. We suggest talking to people at small theaters and giving them pictures in return for the opportunity to photograph, then approaching a local paper. Sometimes an editor will assign on “spec” with no guarantee of payment unless it is published. “Editors love discovering talent.**[back]