Photojournalists represent a small percentage of the 50,260 photographers employed in the United States. They work for broadcast, print, or online publications or as self-employed freelance photojournalists. Photo agencies and news organizations such as the Associated Press purchase photos from freelance photojournalists to use in print and online publications. Some photojournalists work on staff for newspapers, magazines, or other print publications. Television networks also hire photojournalists to help illustrate breaking stories.
Regardless of where they work, most photojournalists get their first jobs through an internship or professional contacts. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) offers job assistance to its members.
Most photojournalists get their first jobs through contacts made during their internships during college. However, contacts can also be made through professional associations such as the NPPA and other sources. The most important thing that the beginning photojournalist must prepare is his or her portfolio, which many photojournalists now post online. This carefully selected collection of work should reflect the individual's abilities, diverse interests, and flexibility.
Photojournalists can advance by shooting for more prestigious papers (and earning more money for it) or by going into business on their own. They can advance to become the head photo editor, in charge of a staff of photojournalists, or they can even become managing editors or editors in chief of a publication.
Other newspaper photojournalists move into magazine photography, usually on a freelance basis. Where newspaper photojournalists are generalists, magazine photography is usually more specific in nature.
Tips for Entry
Begin assembling a portfolio, preferably online, to demonstrate your talent and technical skills.
Join the National Press Photographers Association, which sponsors the Student Quarterly Clip Contest. It provides students an opportunity to submit both their still and multimedia work and to compete against other student members.
If you plan on being a self-employed photojournalist, build a social media presence by creating a Facebook business page.