Photojournalism combines two words – ‘photography’ and ‘journalism’. This term was coined by Frances Luther Mott, the dean of the University of Missouri, School of Journalism, in the 1940s.
Modern photojournalism, however, originated around the 1920s. This was because camera equipment became more portable and less bulky, thus allowing photographers to take pictures discreetly.
A Brief History of Photojournalism
Photojournalism began in Germany with the development of the 35mm Leica camera in 1925 followed by flashbulbs in 1927 giving rise to a whole new style of magazines that published photographs inside the covers. What might seem commonplace now was actually a revolutionary phenomenon once!
Photographers would take a large number of pictures and along with their editors would choose the pictures that they felt told the story they were trying to narrate best. These pictures would then be combined with captions and/or short text to form the story. Photojournalism came into its own during World War II where the brutality, the tragedy and the triumphs of human existence could be quickly captured on film like never before. Life magazine was at the forefront of this photographic revolution.
Pictures taken during the war and immediately afterwards are still famous today. Remember the picture of the soldier kissing the woman on V-day? It speaks of the joy and relief felt on that day in a way no words could capture. A picture, after all, is worth a thousand words.
How are Photojournalists Different from Reporters?
So, what is photojournalism? How is it different from being a regular journalist? To put it simply, photojournalists tell news stories using their photographs as the medium (instead of words). While words allow journalists to give a background and a context to the stories they tell, a photojournalist needs to be able to do that with just a picture.
Pretty powerful stuff!
Photojournalists also have the power to cut across barriers of language and culture because they speak through a media that everyone understands – images. Unlike reporters, who may get their stories second-hand (like over the internet or telephone), photojournalists actually have to be where the event is happening in person to get their story. No one else can do it for them.
The Power of a Picture – The Need for Ethics
Do you know what the role of photojournalism is? A fashion photographer, on one hand, is someone who creates fantasy – a fictitious world where anything may happen. Manipulating images in such a role might actually be a necessity. Photojournalists, on the other hand, convey events as they occur – they tell nonfiction stories. They freeze a moment in time for all to see. And as responsible journalists, they are bound to tell the truth to the citizens. This makes what is acceptable to edit in a photograph extremely small. Photojournalists, therefore, need to be more versatile than photographers with a specialisation as they need to be able to photograph sceneries, portraits and action scenes – all with the same amount of finesse.
Careers in Photojournalism
Photojournalists can be employed by a media house or publication agency. However, many photojournalists also work as freelancers. Some may also be employed by a newspaper but freelance on the side. Video is also becoming a big part of photojournalism in India, especially with the internet being such an important form of dispensing the news.
Here are some of the photojournalism careers you can explore:
- Newspaper Photographer
- Magazine Photographer
- Freelance Photojournalist
- Stock Photographer
- Graphic Artist
- Layout Editor
- Multimedia Journalist
- Web Designer
- Video Editor
- Documentary Filmmaker
What Are the Perks of a Career in Photojournalism?
A photojournalist’s job can be a difficult one, especially when it comes to getting established. However, it does come with plenty of perks. If any or all of the following appeal to you, you probably should consider becoming one.
- Photojournalists get to travel the world
- The career is a rewarding one, depending on how much experience you gain
- Photojournalists can actually be present when events that make history are happening
- The job is dynamic and thrilling – you get to do something new every day
- Photojournalists have access to famous people and celebrities that most others do not
How to Become a Photojournalist?
The scope for photojournalism in India is huge at the moment. Photojournalism requires you to be well-versed in the field of photography and journalism. You need to know how to operate a camera and edit the pictures you have taken. A good course in photography can help you with this. However, if you want to strike the perfect balance between journalism and photography, you can enrol in a professional Broadcast Journalism course that will give you a deeper understanding of the field of journalism and choose to specialise in photojournalism.
Looking for photojournalism courses in India? Seamedu offers a Degree Course in Broadcast Journalism as well as a Degree Course in Photography that can help you get started on your career as a photojournalist. Contact us for more information.