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If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, Then a Career in Photojournalism Allows You Tell Some Powerful Stories

In 1984, Steve McCurry’s picture of the Afghan girl with the piercing green eyes made the world take notice of the refugee issue in Afghanistan and the rest of the world. Arko Datta’s iconic picture of a man pleading for his life during the Gujarat riots, shocked the nation. The image of his bandaged hands joined together, his terror-filled eyes appealing for mercy, depicted the helplessness of innocent victims of communalism.
Though the advent of digital cameras has simplified the techniques in photography, it has not compromised the skill of a photographer. A photojournalist is, in essence, a journalist who replaces the pen with a camera. When a photojournalist sets out to cover a story, he/she must be equipped not only with a camera but also a vision and a voice. Some photojournalists work alongside a reporter and through their lens, capture moments that best enhance the value of the story. A photojournalist is also required to develop and edit the pictures to ensure they are of the best possible quality.
Apart from the usual requirements of a good photographer, such as being able to take clear and striking images and possessing technical skill, a photojournalist’s job demands added abilities. The integral qualities that a photojournalist must possess are an in-depth knowledge of current affairs, adaptability, quick thinking and the ability to meet deadlines. You have to be prepared to travel on short notice as you need to be present wherever there is a newsworthy story. You might also be sent to locations where you can face challenges such as extreme climatic conditions, lack of facilities, hostile groups of people, security issues, etc, which can also be dangerous in some cases. Importantly, photojournalists also carry the moral responsibility of delivering pictures that tell an honest story.
As a photojournalist you can choose to freelance for various publications and agencies or work full time with one organisation. Sometimes people prefer to cover the stories particular to a location, such as the Middle East, while others choose a particular issue, such as wars, natural disasters or wildlife. At an entry level, photojournalists earn around Rs. 12,000 – 15,000 per month. With more experience, you can earn Rs.30, 000 or more depending on the organisation you work for.
There are many routes you can take to enter this field. Since not many Indian Universities offer a specific degree in photojournalism, one option is to pursue a mass communication degree that includes photography in its syllabus. Another route you can take is study an area of interest such as anthropology, political science, history, etc, which you think will add to your knowledge as a photojournalist and then pursue aphotography course. And the third is to pursue a journalism degree and then a diploma course in photography. Whatever route you decide to take, photojournalism is one career when your talent, passion and determination will fuel your success.

Course Canvas

  • Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi
  • Asian College of Journalism, Chennai
  • JJ School of Applied Arts, Mumbai
  •  Boston University

 

Volume 2 Issue 2

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