Every Been a Photographer and wanted to come back? Photojournalism
In this series of posts where I explore what it means to return to Professional Photography this one is about my first job (the one that made me a professional photographer): Photojournalism.
Looking back to what it was and what it is today, photojournalism is in my opinion, the most dramatically affected by technological development. By dramatically I mean, as the one that most affected proffesionals and the perceptions of how the industry and practice should be. On one hand the changes within the photography business related to the publishing industry are massive, the industry is shrinking and there seems to be no end to it. The main reason is people are changing habits towards digital consumption of content and for some reason as Paul Brymer comment in my previous post in Linkedin, “I cannot recommend photography as a viable source of income to anyone! It is something people expect for free.” or Shepherd Michelle commented ”I’ve been a photographer and it seems like people want everything for nothing. I actually quit doing it because of that reason.”
In the logic of less less less, less papers, less readers, less advertisers, and paying less comes the less budget, less productions, less commisions, hence less professional photography. To add salt to injury as my friend Stev Brackenbury commented “Whilst most people are strictly amateurs the improvement in equipment and photo shop software enable a keen amateur to achieve surprising results on inexpensive equipment” and within this reality many publishers take the cheaper route of user generated content.
What makes it tougher to consider to go back to photojournalism is that when we scan what professionals in the industry have to say about changes, it is mostly complains about the shrinking business, how newcomers and amateurs poison prices and markets and its mostly about survival to stay in the business. A great portion of photographers/photojournalists have changed carriers, others like myself moved to the picture editing role for a while. Those surviving, like in life, are just hanging in there. While maybe some are doing relatively well in whatever is left in a very competitive freelance market? Does anyone know how are we doing in the staff photographer job market? It seems it does not exist anymore…
At this point we all must agree that technology imposed pervasive and disruptive changes and technology progress also modified the way photos are consumed, delivered and furthermore percieved. These changes affected in various ways professional photojournalists, for example to be properly equipped and to deliver high quality pressional quality is key. For this level of professional photography the initial investment is much higher than it was in the past and with a higher rate of depreciation where equipment cost must be off set within 3-5 years instead of the 10 to 15 years as it used to be. To put it simply: to re-equip onself to a high level of photojournalism is a big financial risk. Not to mention the costs and time of learning new skills in communications, image processing, image storage, image captioning and tagging or copyright misuse and theft, marketing tools, just to name a few.
However it does not seem to be all doom and gloom, at least not for Rajat Ghosh “so start shooting 🙂 call up magazines and am sure you have a foot in the door” and there is still quite a few good photojournalists out there from which I would like to hear of. What do they believe is needed (beside good photography skills) to cut it into photojournalism today?