Photojournalists use photography and video to create images for news outlets such as papers and television news broadcasts. While photographers in general have higher than average job competition and lower than average financial compensation, photojournalism can be a rewarding and dynamic career.
Work in photojournalism typically requires a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor or concentration in photojournalism. Graduates may become freelance or salaried photojournalists. They work for a variety of print, broadcast and online media. Photo editor positions are supervisory and may require additional education or experience.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Photography equipment|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||6% decline for all photographers*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$34,000 for all photographers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Photojournalists, who are also known as news photographers, are responsible for capturing newsworthy events, people or places on film. Their work is displayed in news stories, articles or commentary, sometimes in conjunction with a written article and sometimes as one or several stand-alone photographs, which are often accompanied by headline captions. Photojournalists may be employed by newspapers, magazines or digital news websites. Alternatively, they may be self-employed, selling individual pictures or accepting contract-based assignments for larger news photography projects.
Photojournalists must have the aptitude and equipment to take clear pictures. Journalists working on a freelance basis may also need to purchase their own cameras, tripods and other equipment. The ability to stay on top of news in their area or region of coverage is also important; because photographic subjects or events are often time-sensitive, news photographers must be able to report to the scene quickly and ideally in enough time to take numerous photos.
A photo editor's main responsibility is to supervise the photography department or staff at his or her place of employment. Duties may include selecting or rejecting images for publication, purchasing or keeping track of photographic equipment, delegating assignments to photojournalists, editing images to ensure clarity and removing elements like red-eye or background images that might have been caught by the camera.
Many photo editors also take pictures themselves. Photo editors generally work in print, broadcast or multimedia journalism. Freelance photo editors may find opportunities taking and selecting still photographs for use in news documentary videos, and multimedia photo editors often perform similar work for various websites.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the photography job market was projected to grow at a slower than average rate of 6% decline from 2018 to 2028. The BLS also reported that the increasing popularity of digitized newspapers and digital news sites would diminish the demand for photojournalists at print publication, while creating more opportunities for freelance photojournalists specializing in digital photography. The BLS further predicted that photojournalism would remain a very competitive industry, with fewer wage or salary positions available than applicants interested in filling them (www.bls.gov).
According to BLS, photographers in all fields earned a median hourly rate of $16.004, or a median salary of $37,530, as of August 2019. This is slightly lower than the average of all occupations.
Because many photo editors work for print journalism publications, their future employment outlook is likely to have ups and downs comparable to the employment prospects in the photojournalism job market described above. Similarly, the growing popularity of web-based news publications may create more online photo editing opportunities, particularly for freelance editors with the ability to take on individual photo editing projects for multiple websites.
The BLS predicted a 3% decline in the number of available positions for general editors between 2018 and 2028. PayScale.com reported that most photo editors made from $32,000 to $73,000 per year as of August 2019.
Whether searching for a position as a photo editor or a photojournalist, job competition is strong. While most salaried positions continue to require a formal education, many companies are turning to freelance photographers and loosening their requirements, which increases the pool of qualified candidates for these positions.