Photojournalist Training Programs and Requirements

Photojournalists are trained professionals who recognize and render stories through images. Getting started in the industry requires talent, though a bachelor's degree in journalism may also be helpful.

Essential Information

Photojournalists typically perform their jobs at awards ceremonies, political rallies and sporting events. Individuals in this field are expected to have the ability to operate both film and digital cameras and be considerably skilled in editing photos using digital software. Careers in this field usually require candidates have a bachelor's degree in journalism or a related field, such as visual communications, along with an understanding of news reporting.

Photojournalism programs typically require submission of a portfolio before beginning the program as well as transcripts and test scores in some cases. Aspiring photojournalists also have the option of earning a Certified Professional Photographer credential from Professional Photographers of America through a written exam and submission of a portfolio.

Bachelor's Degree in Journalism

Most bachelor's degree programs in journalism (4 years) allow students to choose an emphasis in a specific media field, including photojournalism. Within the photojournalism program, students will learn photography basics, including shutter speed, composition and photo processing. More advanced techniques using the latest photo editing software should also be covered. Through graded photography assignments and lectures, students in this degree program improve on their areas of weakness and overall skill level. In addition to photography lessons, bachelor's degree students will also need to take courses in journalism such as:

  • History of journalism
  • News reporting and writing
  • Media ethics

Career Options

As a student, interning at a photography studio, newspaper or magazine is useful not only to earn college credit, but to also gain hands-on experience in the day-to-day tasks of a photographer. Some students seek freelancing as a source of income, freedom and creativity. Freelancing, however, is competitive and requires an impressive portfolio and experience. Being a photography assistant is another common option for students entering the field. A photography assistant may organize transportation, obtain releases, entertain clients, take messages, set up lighting, order food or arrange for messengers. Once the necessary skill set, experience and portfolio are gained, individuals may land a higher position. It is possible for self-taught photojournalists to succeed in the industry without a degree by efficiently marketing themselves and having a solid portfolio.

Continuing Education

Photojournalists have a varied selection of conferences and continuing education sources to choose from to learn the latest techniques and products. Regional conferences are an option, as well as conferences that focus on women in photojournalism. Other seminars are hosted by journalism schools and state journalism associations. Photojournalists of all levels may take part in these educational offerings to expand their career and learn about internships, scholarships and employment opportunities. Online courses are also an option that can help professionals improve their skills and advance their careers.

Aspiring photojournalists can usually find curriculum applicable to their interests within journalism programs offered at the bachelor's level. Programs may include courses in shutter speed, composition and photo processing while providing students with hands-on training in photography.

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