A photojournalist


Photojournalists cover all kinds of news events by taken informative images. They tell stories by taking, editing and presenting images for newspapers, journals, magazines, television and other media.

The duties of a photojournalist include, but are not limited to:

  • Capturing images of breaking news stories such as natural disasters, fires, accidents, protests, or other events as they unfold over time
  • Interviewing subjects and writing captions for each photograph, which can require extensive research to ensure the content is accurate and relevant to the story at hand
  • Shooting and processing photographs for publication in newspapers, magazines, television, or on the web
  • Conducting research and planning trips in advance of a story being published so that all necessary information is obtained in a timely manner
  • Covering a specific event or subject matter for a news outlet, such as sports events, politics, or entertainment
  • Shooting photos that may be used for promotional purposes by an organization or business
  • Working with other members of a news team to produce news broadcasts, including writers, editors, camera operators, and sound engineers
  • Shooting photos that capture the attention of viewers and encourage them to read more about the subject
  • Editing photos using computer software programs such as Photoshop to improve contrast, brightness, saturation, and other visual elements

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to photojournalist:

visual journalist
photographic journalist
multi media image journalist
photo reporter
photo correspondent
news photographer
photo journalist
image journalist
investigative photographer
newspaper photographer

Working conditions

Photojournalists may work for themselves as freelancers. They also often work for newspapers, magazines and photo agencies. They may work any day of the week and at any hour, including nights, weekends and holidays. Some photojournalists also have on-call hours, but these responsibilities may rotate and vary by employer.

Work environments for photojournalists vary and often depend on their assignment. For example, they may work in crowded settings, inclement weather or in dangerous situations. Photojournalists may also travel often for their work, locally, nationally, or internationally. They often work under tight deadlines and may be required to work on short notice.

Minimum qualifications

Photojournalists need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed some college or have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or another related field. Some aspiring photojournalists choose to earn a master’s degree in journalism or communication to increase their employment opportunities and earning potential.

Photographers and photojournalists typically receive on-the-job training in the form of mentorship from more experienced colleagues or supervisors. This training helps them learn the specific style and format of the publication or agency they are working for. It also helps them learn the technical aspects of photography, such as how to use the equipment and software.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Photojournalist is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Photojournalist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to photojournalist.

editorial assistant
broadcasting programme director
script supervisor
audio-visual technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of photojournalist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of photojournalist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

sports journalist
magazine editor
crime journalist
political journalist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of photojournalist.

  • Interview techniques: The techniques for getting information out of people by asking the right questions in the right way and to make them feel comfortable.
  • Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
  • Editorial standards: The guidelines on how to deal with and report on privacy, children, and death according to impartiality, and other standards.
  • Writing techniques: The different techniques to write a story such as the descriptive, persuasive, first person and other techniques.
  • Spelling: The rules concerning the way words are spelled.
  • Grammar: The set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.
  • Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of photojournalist.

  • Participate in editorial meetings: Participate in meetings with fellow editors and journalists to discuss possible topics and to divide the tasks and workload.
  • Set up photographic equipment: Choose the best position and orientation of the camera to capture the scene, along with other necessary equipment.
  • Study topics: Carry out effective research on relevant topics to be able to produce summary information appropriate to different audiences. The research may involve looking at books, journals, the internet, and/or verbal discussions with knowledgeable persons.
  • Evaluate writings in response to feedback: Edit and adapt work in response to comments from peers and publishers.
  • Select camera apertures: Adjust lens apertures, shutter speeds and camera focus.
  • Interview people: Interview people in a range of different circumstances.
  • Stay up to date with social media: Keep up with the trends and people on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Consult information sources: Consult relevant information sources to find inspiration, to educate yourself on certain topics and to acquire background information.
  • Adapt to type of media: Adapt to different types of media such as television, movies, commercials, and others. Adapt work to type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within type of media, and others.
  • Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
  • Apply grammar and spelling rules: Apply the rules of spelling and grammar and ensure consistency throughout texts.
  • Select photographic equipment: Select appropriate photographic equipment and background properties, and adapt it according to subjects, materials, and conditions.
  • Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
  • Follow ethical code of conduct of journalists: Follow the ethical code of conduct of journalists, such as freedom of speech, right of reply, being objective, and other rules.
  • Use specific writing techniques: Use writing techniques depending on the type of media, the genre, and the story.
  • Build contacts to maintain news flow: Build contacts to maintain a flow of news, for example, police and emergency services, local council, community groups, health trusts, press officers from a variety of organisations, the general public, etc.
  • Write to a deadline: Schedule and respect tight deadlines, especially for theatre, screen and radio projects.
  • Follow the news: Follow current events in politics, economics, social communities, cultural sectors, internationally, and in sports.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of photojournalist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Audio editing software: The various software for editing and generating audio, such as Adobe Audition, Soundforge, and Power Sound Editor.
  • Press law: The laws concerning the licensing of books and the freedom of expression in all products of the media.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of photojournalist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Edit negatives: Use different software products and techniques to process photographic negatives and adapt the images to the desired specifications.
  • Direct photographic workers: Direct and manage the daily activities of photographic workers.
  • Create online news content: Create and upload news content for e.g. websites, blogs and social media.
  • Maintain an artistic portfolio: Maintain portfolios of artistic work to show styles, interests, abilities and realisations.
  • Check correctness of information: Check if the information contains factual errors, is reliable, and has news value.
  • Adapt to changing situations: Change approach to situations based on unexpected and sudden changes in people’s needs and mood or in trends; shift strategies, improvise and naturally adapt to those circumstances.
  • Perform video editing: Rearrange and edit video footage in the course of the post-production process. Edit the footage using a variety of sofware, tools, and techniques such as colour correction and effects, speed effects, and audio enhancing.
  • Manage writing administration: Manage the financial and administrative side of writing including making up budgets, maintaining financial records, checking contracts, etc.
  • Manage personal finances: Identify personal financial objectives and set up a strategy to match this target in seeking support and advice when necessary.
  • Perform image editing: Edit various types of images such as analogue and digital photographs or illustrations.
  • Record multi-track sound: Recording and mixing audio signals from different sound sources on a multi-track recorder.
  • Edit digital moving images: Use specialised software to edit video images for use in an artistic production.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Write headlines: Write” titles to accompany news articles. Make sure they are to the point and inviting.
  • Maintain photographic equipment: Execute maintenance tasks to keep photographic equipment functioning properly.
  • Edit recorded sound: Edit audio footage using a variety of sofware, tools, and techniques such as crossfading, speed effects, and removing unwanted noises.
  • Use photographic equipment: Use analogue or digital camera equipment, along with a variety of accessories such as tripods, filters and lenses.
  • Edit photographs: Resize, enhance and retouche photographs, using airbrushing, editing software and other techniques.
  • Test photographic equipment: Test photographic equipment, tools and accessories.
  • Follow directions of on-site director: Follow the instructions of the director when covering events on location.
  • Develop film: Prepare tools and developing and printing equipment. Develop and print exposed film using chemicals.
  • Write captions: Write captions to accompany cartoons, drawings, and photographs. These captions can be humorous or explanatory.

ISCO group and title

3431 – Photographers

  1. Photojournalist – ESCO
  2. Photographers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Career in Photojournalism – Indeed
  4. Photojournalist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  5. Featured image: By European Parliament from EU – SOTEU 2022, CC BY 2.0
Last updated on December 21, 2022

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