Photojournalism portfolios and employment


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Photojournalism portfolios and employment

  1. 1. Education and careers A college degree is required.
  2. 2. What does journalism have to do with photography? • Studying journalism gives you a background in the field and a ground-zero starting point. • This experience will more likely be the source of material for your first portfolio. • Education also helps you learn to think critically and analytically, as well as broaden your perspective on people and the world.
  3. 3. Broaden your knowledge • There is little room in this business for someone who is nothing more than a button pusher. • Beware of isolating yourself from classes that broaden your overall background. • As a photojournalist, you will run across all kinds of people and situations. • The best photos come from photographers who have confidence and a broad perspective on the world.
  4. 4. Well-rounded • You must understand the issues of the day, the subject and the audience. Use your technical tools to capture the message. • Explore some classes like history, art, sociology, psychology, anthropology. You must be a complete journalist. I believe there is no better way to learn to organize thoughts and information than by learning to write news. BONUS: the skills you learn will make your more valuable to employers.
  5. 5. Plan, too, for the future • Right now, shooting might be the most exciting thing in your life, but you cannot guarantee where your career will take you. • Put a variety of things in your educational savings bank.
  6. 6. The PJ’s personality • Give careful thought to your own traits. • You must be intellectually aware, technically skilled and physically strong. • Most GOOD PJ’s are patient, stubborn, imaginative, assertive yet not offensively aggressive. • PJ’s are good politicians and psychologists, have a love of people and work, have a broad range of interests, an ability to anticipate events and an understanding of what readers want and need.
  7. 7. The PJ’s personality • A good PJ is willing to take the risks and knows when and how far to push. • If you are uncomfortable approaching strangers and making photos of them or, if you prefer photographing scenery and objects, perhaps PJ is not for you. • This business is intensely competitive. • The slow or indecisive PJ will be left behind, pictures made by the ignorant will be empty and the timid and withdrawn will be in constant turmoil over dealing with new people and situations on a daily basis.
  8. 8. Building your portfolio • One of the greatest problems for beginning PJs is the first portfolio – what to include and how to arrange it. • There is no magic formula: the content is king. • Show what you do best. Edit carefully – go through all of your work and select strong images. • Have another PJ look over your first selects. (We all have favorite images that have personal meaning to us but aren’t strong enough for a portfolio.)
  9. 9. Building your portfolio • What kind of photos should you include? • Try to show your versatility. Traditional categories are: news, feature, photo story, sports, and illustration. • But don’t try to fill these categories unless the images are strong. • If you are weak in sports, don’t include sports just to show you were at a few games.
  10. 10. Building your portfolio • Careful editing: Show only your best work – no excuses, no exceptions! • If you have to explain a photo, then it isn’t telling its own story and should be eliminated. • You can tailor your portfolio for each publication you apply to: beware of presenting a false impression of yourself. • If you are hired because of a misleading portfolio, you’ll soon be looking for another job.
  11. 11. Portfolio clichés • Employers want someone who is not just a carbon copy of the pack. If you have an example of a cliché that is the best ever made, use it. If there is any doubt, toss it out. – Kids playing sprinklers. Second-base slides. Levitated football players. Basketball jumping under-the-basket shots. Sunset, silhouettes, babies and flowers. Dogs wearing sunglasses (most animal pictures), shots of celebrities, rock musicians performing (most performance photos), people holding protest signs, photos from your vacation, any photo depends solely on a special photographic technique (fish eye)
  12. 12. Feedback. Ask for it. • The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) • Try to get at least 6 critiques before coming to any conclusions about your work. • Keep your portfolio up to date. There is an old saying: you’re only as good as your last assignment. • An old photo can still be a good photo, but employers want to know what you can do today.
  13. 13. Rookie mistakes • #1 – You don’t promote yourself. • #2 – You don’t hate your own stuff. • Employers are looking for anything to get rid of you. • The fact that the newspaper industry has tanked has helped you. No one is arrogant anymore. • I would encourage you: do not make the error of trying to be too conservative because that will never really get you a victory.
  14. 14. Print portfolios • I recommend having an online presence as well as a tangible, hand-held portfolio. • Print photos on 11x14-inch paper and mount on a black board. • All photos should be the same size and NEAT. • Display your photos in a portfolio book. • Include a caption (in AP style) • Group similar types of shots together.
  15. 15. Internships • Get one, or freelance, this summer. The time to start looking is in the late fall or early winter. • Contact photo directors or managing editors at places you’d like to work one day. Nat Geo? ESPN? • Follow the application instructions! • Prepare a resume and cover letter. • Apply for a number of them at a time.
  16. 16. Called for an interview? • Look at the publication before the interview! Get some back issues and examine its style. • Dress like a pro. Try to anticipate some of the interviewer’s questions. The easy ones will be about your background. The hard ones will be why you want the internship and what you expect to get out of it.
  17. 17. Granted an internship? • Learn as much as you can. Plan on putting in many more hours than you are asked. • Try to observe what happens in other departments. Get staffers to critique your work. Get a formal evaluation about halfway. (You may have to ask for one)
  18. 18. Freelancing…a tough route. • You must be a business person as well as PJ. • Nat Geo is known for saying “We are up to our neck with photographers but only up to our ankles in ideas.” • There’s the key: if you can come up with good ideas and pitch it to the editors, then you can sell those ideas with pictures. • Start by researching the publication you want to work for and see what stories they cover. Look back at least a year. Then something they haven’t covered and suggest it.
  19. 19. Querying • A query letter is one that catches the attention of the editor so he or she will call you. • Briefly outline the story or consider writing the first paragraph. Send a couple of photos if you already have them available. • Be sure to provide a SASE for reply if you are mailing.
  20. 20. Freelancing is like fishing • You’ll have to throw a lot of bait into the water and you’ll get only a few nibbles. • But don’t throw one hook in at a time and then sit in the boat waiting while the line floats downstream. Treat ideas as a bulk commodity. Try to come up with a few story ideas every day. • Consider all markets for photo: greeting cards, posters, product packaging, books and audiovisual productions. The list is almost endless. Consult freelancing market guides.
  21. 21. Payment and rights • Most pubs pay freelancers when the material is published but EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE and you may work out a different arrangement. • Be sure you have a written arrangement about payment and rights to the material before agreeing to the assignment.
  22. 22. Payment and rights • You should agree on the day/space rate and the photographer should agree with the editor on the rates. • The photographer should be paid by whichever method is higher. • If the day rate is $500 per day and the space rate is $500 page, and you worked one day but the editor wants to use two pages of photos.
  23. 23. Payment and rights • You should never sell photos as a freelancer. Rent the rights to use them. Photographs have lives far beyond their original use and can continue to earn money for you over the years. • The common rights granted are “one time rights” which means the pub can use themm once in a particular issue.
  24. 24. Copyright • Federal copyright law protects your work from being used without your permission. Under copyright law, you retain control of your work and collect the profits you deserve. (Unless you are on staff with a publication.) • You work is automatically copyright as soon as you produce it.
  25. 25. Online presence • If your Facebook is private, employers can and WILL hack into it and find you, so everything online should be professional if you’re going into this field. • If people share your name, it’s even more important to have a presence online that you can be proud of. • Likewise, if your name is not common, you STILL need a presence.
  26. 26. Portfolio • The most expensive part of your online portfolio is purchasing your domain name = about $12/year • –; (maybe • NOT • first, then .net • Make sure it matches the name you put on your resume! Go with what you go by! Just be consistent
  27. 27. Portfolio • Pick a free webhost: or Wordpress are the big shots • There’s and for journalists specific • Find the time – spend an hour before you go to bed instead of creeping on Instagram. • Get a headshot, your best clips, your resume, multimedia materials, photos, social networking sites, blog and contact info.
  28. 28. Resume – You’re going to be updating your resume for the next eternity, so get used to it and get good at it. – One page – Kill the objective - instead put words to describe yourself and your capabilities. – Your name should be in the biggest font possible. It’s the most important thing on your resume! – Get the year you are going to graduate off of your resume! – Editors and hiring people are looking at your resume as a way to eliminate you. Eliminate the reasons for them to do that.
  29. 29. What not to do: • A resume isn’t a memoir. – “Played/raised money for Broward Women’s Adult League for basketball.” – “Founder of the Delray Monkeys climbing club.” – “Spent a month last summer biking the east coast of the United States from Daytona Beach, FL to Atlantic City, NJ.” – Put yourself in perspective: • Student filmmaker, 2013-present: Covered feature stories including XYZ in TV Production at Seminole State College of Florida, a state school with 28,000 students.
  30. 30. What not to do: continued • Don’t lead with education. You’re just one of millions right now and you’re supposed to have an education, so no one’s impressed by what you’re supposed to do • Don’t include references without ASKING them first. “Do you feel comfortable if I list you as a reference? (Note: If you’ve ever impressed some media professors, listing them as references is an objective way to say you’re worthy of an interview. • Little errors add up • Don’t: Brag about high school. Go into detail about retail.
  31. 31. Disasters • Dear Dave: I call you that because I feel I’ve known you for years • Dear Mr. Todd: I would like to aply for the position of editoral asistent • Dear Mr. Todd: My mother told me I should … • Dear Mr. Todd: You don’t know me, but … • Dr. Mr. Todd: Your company appears to be violating the Equal Opportunities Amendment and to help you rectify the situation, I would like to…
  32. 32. What to do: some advice • Playing it safe guarantees you, at best, last place. Not taking the risk never impresses anyone. • Design matters. If there’s no uniform use of typography, you’re not even going to get more than a 3-second look.
  33. 33. What to do: continued • Type your resume and print it on quality bond paper (cream colored) • Do not include irrelevant personal information (e.g. age, weight, height, marital status, etc.) • Do not include everything you’ve done ─ be selective! Its best practice to include skills and experiences that contributes or relates to the company you are applying. • Be positive. Identify and quantify accomplishments. Sell it! Dont tell it! Use concise sentences (keep it short, sweet, and to the point) • Make sure your résumé looks attractive, neat and organized. • Proofread your résumé. Print or email your résumé and have someone else provide feedback • Use white space, CAPITALS, underlining, indentations, and bold to make your résumé stand out • Use bullet statements to emphasize a point