Photojournalist Career: Overview of Job Opportunities for Photojournalists

Published Oct 30, 2009

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Photojournalists use images to tell a story. Photojournalists may also consider other careers, becoming documentary filmmakers or multimedia storytellers. Several careers in photography are related to photojournalism. Read on to discover job duties and career outlook information for photographers working in news media, corporate industry, scientific publishing or freelance portraiture.

Photojournalist Career: Overview of Job Opportunities for Photojournalists

News Photographer Overview and Career Outlook

A photojournalist, or news photographer, works for a media outlet such as a newspaper, magazine or business journal. These professionals take still pictures of newsworthy events, places or people. News photographers may also research older, existing images when coordinating their use for various news stories. Photojournalists spend much of their time on computers, because digital images are the industry norm. These professionals should have adequate photo editing skills beyond their ability to capture images on camera.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that photographers would see a ten percent increase in jobs between 2006-2016. However, this was reported before the current recession and before social media became a big player in how the public gets its news. For photojournalists, in particular, citizen journalists ('citjos': non-professionals who sell photos to newspapers) and the decline of print newspapers may adversely affect job growth.

Industrial Photographer Overview and Career Outlook

An industrial photographer takes pictures of buildings, new architecture, machines, products or landscapes. Images from an industrial photographer are used in sales brochures, marketing pieces, white papers or company reports. This type of photography may also be used for corporate headshots or when images are needed to display work and project samples on company websites.

Industrial photography is a very specialized field and isn't part of the BLS career outlook predictions in its own right. But it is part of a popular field: the BLS reports that in 2008, an estimated 41,710 photographers were working in professional, technical or scientific services.

Scientific Photographer Overview and Career Outlook

The images you see in medical journals or science publications are taken by scientific photographers. These photographers take pictures for use in explaining scientific procedures or data. In addition to their photography skills, scientific photographers often have extensive backgrounds in chemistry, engineering, biology or related science fields.

Scientific photographers fit a specialized niche. Those who bring a scientific background to their skills in photography may have a leg up on the competition. Scientific and technical photographers are part of the largest job group among all photographers.

Freelance Photographer Overview and Career Outlook

A freelance photographer is typically well-versed in all areas of photography with one or two specialties. For instance, one might freelance as a special occasion photographer, taking pictures for family celebrations, weddings or birthdays. Another area of freelance photography is that of covering news stories as a special to a news outlet. Whatever the specialty, freelance photographers should pay attention to copyright laws in order to protect their work. These professionals often need to market their services to clients and rely on the quality of their work to help gain more contracts.

In 2006, the BLS reported that more than half of the photographers in the U.S. were self-employed. Some of these individuals held contracts with marketing or advertising agencies, while others maintained their own photography studios. The BLS also notes that employment for portrait photographers, in particular, should grow as the country's population grows.

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