Photojournalists tell other peoples’ stories through their pictures. While many print and online newspapers and magazines require a degree to get on staff, it’s your skills with your quality equipment that will land you more assignments, especially if you are freelance and work for yourself. In addition to having the technical skills, you also need to notice the details that can tell a story.
Serve as an apprentice or intern to learn professional photojournalist techniques and build a portfolio that you’ll use to land jobs for magazines, newspapers and websites. Work as an assistant to a freelance photographer or do an internship at a publication as part of your schooling.
Pay attention to detail in people and their surroundings. Look for expressions on the faces of your subjects or the posture of people in surrounding crowds. While you want to get the close-up shots, you also need to provide context for your pictures with a wide shot that includes geographic details that might consist of historical markers, piles of trash, a busy office building, a traffic pileup or a city park.
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Prepare for your shoots as much as you can before you arrive. Visit a location in advance to get a feel for the kinds of shots you’ll aim for and notice details that will help you get the best shot, such as vantage points like the top of a building or a nearby hill. Take trial pictures to gauge the effects of lighting at various times of day. Find cultural markers, such as a statue, café or house that reflect the essence of the location.
Shoot in natural light. Learn to manipulate your camera so that you won’t have to set up added lighting or distract your subjects with flashes. If you can remain unnoticed and shoot pictures unobtrusively, you’ll capture more natural scenes.
Increase your skill set by learning how to use a video camera and other multimedia tools. Practice writing captions to your stories and adding music and other audio to your videos. According to the National Press Photographers Association, a good photojournalist masters a wide range of techniques to be a complete storyteller.