News Photographer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 18, 2019

News photographers require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if news photography is the right career for you.

While technical proficiency, fearlessness and creativity are all important for a career as a news photographer, most also hold a degree in photography, and are required to travel to do their work. They also may be required to provide their own camera equipment.

Essential Information

News photographers, also known as photojournalists, capture snapshots of live events with the use of high-tech cameras. By taking these images, a news photographer is able to capture the feel and moment of an event for audiences reading journals, magazines or newspapers. Although technical skills and photography experience are paramount in this career, photographers in the news industry typically hold an associate's or a bachelor's degree in photography.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree is common
Other Requirements Technical skill with cameras
Job Growth (2018-2028)* -6% for all photographers
Median Salary (2018)* $34,000 for all photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

News Photographer Job Description

Work as a news photographer is usually on a full-time or freelance basis. Many news or entertainment businesses hire news photographers or accept individual work submissions. News photographers normally have a work office, either at home or with their employer.

When out capturing photographs, a news photographer can expect to be in any sort of environment. The locations can range from press conferences in well-kept areas to dangerous police scenes. Irregular and long hours are the norm in this career due to newsworthy events occurring at almost any time of the day.

Job Duties

News photographers use a wide range of photography technologies to capture, store and edit images for use by news businesses. By using a wide variety of techniques, a news photographer is able to capture photos from exciting angles that capture the moment. These photographs are collected into a portfolio and presented to an employer or higher-up who determines which photos are used for stories. A news photographer might also give some input and recommend which ones to use.

The first duty is to receive or pick up a job assignment. With the designated location given, a news photographer travels to that site. There, the news photographer tracks down the target or event in the area. The newsworthy event is captured from many different angles and special lenses and lighting are used to enhance the appearance of the photographs.

Job Requirements

Technical proficiency and a postsecondary education are often necessary for this career. If working freelance, a news photographer also has to provide his or her own camera. If working for a business, the camera is usually provided to the news photographer.

Possessing an associate's or bachelor's degree in photography may be required by many news businesses, and these degrees are particularly helpful for those seeking full-time positions. Coursework for these programs is a mixture of history, art and field application classes. Employers may also look for job experience. Internships, working on a school paper, entry-level assistant roles and freelance work can help news photographers build up a work reputation.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographer positions were expected to decrease from 2018-2028. Job competition should be intense, and full-time, salaried positions may be hard to find. In May 2018, the BLS reported that photographers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $76,360 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $19,850 or less per year

A news photographer needs technical skills with cameras and editing photos, knowledge of photographic history and current events, and the ability to think on their feet in the field. Job opportunities exist for freelancers and those working for companies. Typically, news photographers have an associate's or bachelor's degree in photography, and job growth in this field is predicted to decline through 2028.

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