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Kickstarting A Photojournalism Career

So you want to be a photojournalist. You’ve seen the work in the Times and National Geographic magazines and have been inspired to make a difference in the world. But before you head off to war-torn lands, find out what it takes to get your foot in the door of this fascinating career.

Canon EOS 760D, EF50mm f/1.8 II lens, f/2.5, 1/80sec, 50mm, ISO 200 by Carlos Pina

Get schooled 

Most news publications will require a journalism degree and some formal training in photojournalism, so taking a course will help ease your transition into the industry. While some might argue that in photography, your work ultimately speaks for itself, learning how to write captions and headlines definitely wouldn’t hurt.    

Be a people person

Photojournalism tends to be more people-centric, so don’t be afraid to get out there! Approach people, ask questions and do your legwork – you aren’t going to find any stories sitting in your car.

Canon EOS 760D, EF50mm f/1.8 II lens, f/1.8, 1/1250sec, 50mm, ISO 100 by Carlos Pina

Learn from the pros

There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from industry veterans, especially if you’re new to photography altogether. Pick up some magazines and newspapers and take note of the professionals whose work inspires you. You’d be surprised how much you can learn this way.

Build a portfolio

It goes without saying that any photographer worth his salt has a portfolio, as no one is going to engage you if they don’t know what you’re made of. Get into the habit of having your camera on you at all times – the more you shoot, the bigger a pool of images you’ll have to choose from to showcase.

Canon EOS 760D, EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, f/7.1, 1/100sec, 25mm, ISO 100 by Carlos Pina

Be seen

Build a website, start a Flickr account or get on Instagram -- get your work out there! Many a times photographers get work through their online portfolios, so make sure you’re easily contactable.

Canon EOS 760D, EF50mm f/1.8 II lens, f/1.8, 1/100sec, 50mm, ISO 100 by Carlos Pina

Take initiative

Don’t wait for assignments, look for them yourself and pitch stories to editors. Send your portfolio to various publications. Be proactive! You can easily find contact details of editors online and offline, so there’s no excuses.

Canon EOS 760D, EF50mm f/1.8 II lens, f/1.8, 1/160sec, 50mm, ISO 100 by Carlos Pina

Be (properly) equipped

If you’re genuinely serious about pursuing photojournalism as a career, then invest in professional-grade equipment. For starters, you’ll at least need a camera body, wide-angle and telephoto lens and an editing suite.


Mona Teo
Profile of writer

Mona Teo is a writer based in Singapore who believes that there is nothing more powerful than the written word (not counting coffee). An avid scuba diver and traveler, she relies on her Kindle to get her through flights and seeks inspiration from the world around her.