The profession of photojournalist is no doubt a noble one. Photojournalists make news documentation more substantial. They know what stirs the mind of the concerned global citizen. Whether you are still reading articles about photography for beginners or are already a seasoned photographer, this article will open up your mind to the idea of photojournalism.
1. PREP & PLAN
What is a photographer without his gear? The crucial aspect of being a good photojournalist is always being ready, and having your equipment in order is the first step. Next, be proactive. Contrary to what you might think, photojournalists don’t capture unexpected moments as much as they capture unexpected moments at planned events. Accordingly, it’s your job to be on the lookout for any potential photo-ops, regardless of whether or not you are already working for a publication. Assign yourself the task of going to important upcoming events in and around your locality. Ask questions and photograph chief figures and their movements and actions.
Lighting is key for any photograph, and perhaps even more important for the kind snapped by photojournalists. Therefore, one of the first things you should do is locking in the exposure settings on your camera for the particular scene you are currently surrounded by. This enables you to quickly capture any important moment without having to pause and adjust your settings, risking losing your photo-op. And no, auto-exposure is not an option! It’s also important to remember that you are not shooting for aesthetics: you are documenting news, so don’t get frustrated by the lack of space for artistic creativity. Remember what your goal is.
3. TIMING & ANTICIPATION
As a photojournalist, you have the all-important task of keeping your eyes open. Tying in with #1, anticipating how, when and where moments are waiting to happen is key to succeeding in capturing great photojournalistic shots. One important nugget of knowledge that most photojournalists love sharing is this: the perfect photo-op doesn’t come just once. If you stay alert, you may miss the shot you want, but still come back with the shot you need!
It goes without saying that your subject is the most important part of your photo. Sometimes, you will know what you are on the lookout for—ideally, you will have an idea of what you want to capture when you are in a photo-op situation. But sometimes you won’t. Again, this requires you to be more scrupulous about what you choose to point your camera at. Then comes focusing. It is your focus, of course, that will determine the subject your viewer picks out in the photo. A wide-range focus may be what you are used to, but in photojournalism, a little goes a long way: a narrow depth of field, in fact, helps separate your subject from everything else in the shot.
The thrill alone is what makes this profession so rewarding: knowing that the very shot you’ve just taken could be the perfect one. But to do this, you need to move around! Don’t be afraid of approaching your subject from different angles and positions; in fact, even slight shifts in movement can make for a great photograph—let’s say, the moment right before the celebrity trips on a loose thread on the red carpet. So go into action and start clicking!
The beauty of being a photojournalist is that you are not just a photographer, but also a reporter. It is a unique profession in which the rewards are aplenty, if reaped right. Learn more about how to get the best out of your photojournalism career here!