Disclaimer: This is a personal observation based on years of practice and perfection. Any discrepancies, please let me know. This guide is only meant for newbies, wanabes, and amateur professionals. This article is made in association with Project: EDUCATE.
A - Agency
Are you affiliated with somebody in the media? No? Find one if you're truly aspiring to be a photojournalist. In any industry, you'll start from scratch, taking photographs of opening ceremonies, cheque presentations, traffic report, political speeches, and all those other mundane stuffs. Work your way up the ladder by proving yourself if you actually land a stint with the press. May take 4 to 6 years before you or your editor find the potential of working your own headlines. However, if you're on your own, you can either outsource yourself like what Peter Parker did in Spiderman, selling your photographs (as what CNN would call iReporters) to a press-photo agency or newspaper if you think your shot is better compared to some others.
B - Braving It
You'll be working under harshest of conditions imaginable - hot sun, biting the dusts dodging bullets and tear gases, seeing deaths around you, experiencing things you may not think you'd smell/see/hear in your life... all the while focusing on finding an angle for your photograph(s) to keep the story very much alive. You'll be in the line of fire, storms, politicians punching each other in parliament, etc. You just gotta have the guts to do what you have to, and play safe.
C - Coverage
When you cover a particular story, you need to fully understand the scenario unfolding around you. You have to be invisible to everybody else. You cannot control what's going on and ask someone to pose for you. You are Mr. (or Ms) Invisible, yet you have to at the same time be Mr. (or Ms) Invincible. Fine line between the both. Either way, certain stories you cover may not be held in one place alone. It may span a mile, a few blocks, or an entire city. Look out for vantage points and scout around (recce) before deciding on where you're gonna set up camp.
D - Don'ts
Do NOT: stand in the way of another photographer/cameraman, push your way to the front with force using your knees and elbows, scream at a politician to look your way so you can take his/her shot, keep quiet at a movie/music personality and let him/her look at other photographers, get into zones marked as no-entry by the authorities such as fire and crime scenes, misuse your press freedom to make up bullshits.
E - Eyes and Ears
You are the forefront of the society by bringing to general readers/viewers what you've seen or heard of the story you're covering. Having your point of view of what happened is one thing. Having a biased report is another. You are not allowed to take sides, as it may turn out as propaganda to opposing sides. Being biased may not only degrade the authenticity of your reportage, it may also cost you your job... and future jobs you wish to partake if your story gets overblown by whistle-blowers.
F - Features
A series of photojournalism includes a few other supporting photographs to highlight your storyline. Same when you wish to upload such stuffs to deviantArt. A standalone photograph may work if it's an incident or event that is well known around the world, providing that you give ample information of said shot without spamming us with full length details of your accounts, experience, and side orders of french fries and donuts. Just be mindful if your storyline is newsworthy or not, otherwise it may just be another portrait, street, or a mere snapshot.
G - Ground Zero
At certain events, there's bound to be a podium or one particular section separated from everybody else just for the press. Be it at a fashion show where the podium will be at the end of a catwalk, or even in court where you're either next to the jury or seated in a press balcony depending on your country, these locations are meant for you and you alone. You are not allowed to breach pass these areas without expressed permission by the organizer or person(s) in charged of the event. However, if an incident or event takes place in the open such as a disaster area or concert, do check also with the authorities and organizers of where you can and cannot photograph. Backstage in a concert or during a sports event requires special passes, whereas at a cordoned area such as that of an accident or disaster, you may wanna realize how sensitive your story may be to others. Particularly in a disaster area, photograph of brain matter splashed on the ground and entrails smudged up like spaghetti isn't only disturbing, it's not even allowed in any press photo.
H - Hogging
While you're on duty, even though you've gotten yourself a good spot to take your photographs, hogging another photographer/cameraman behind you is very unethical. It's downright rude. If you wish to hog, just ask, then get out of their way. Unless your name is Anderson Cooper or Steve McCurry.
I - Improvise
You have a choice of being a sniper or a machine gunner when it comes to shooting. Most often you'd see other journalists shooting at bursts of 4 to 5 frames per second hoping that one of the shot makes it to their preference. Others take their time, aim, and wait for the moment. Some even try the drive-by shooting technique where you just shoot and hope you hit the target. Either way, practicing at weird angles, or hip-shoot, or raising your camera above everybody's head to get a bird's eye view will get you what you need. In photojournalism, you cannot stick to one style and hope for the best. Details is most important in this line. You want to capture as much information into one frame, and let the photograph do the talking for you when you decide to submit it. This isn't a portraiture photography where you can ask your subject to pose this way, look that way, and smile.
J - Journalism
Big word. It also reflects on what's newsworthy, and what's not. Your works tell the story. Your works may also alter the course of history. Either way, it's about the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Here's what deviantArt categorize Journalism as:
"Photography intended to describe or document in pictures the events of individuals, groups of people, governments, history, and so on. Photojournalism gives us newsworthy photographs wherein the primary motivation is to recount a story not assist a story, the photographer never disturbing the natural events in the scene. Images containing a date and time imprint from your camera should be placed in scraps."
...and at Wikipedia:
"Journalism is a discipline of gathering, writing and reporting news, and more broadly it includes the process of editing and presenting the news articles. Journalism applies to various media, including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, radio, and television." More info
K - Keep It
Whether you're on your own, or outsourced, or attached to a particular agency, your photographs and story that comes with it is yours to keep. However, if your photograph does actually appear in any publication, insist on copyrights and credits. For example, if you're attached to Getty's Editorial, your credit should read (for example) Tom Brokaw, Getty's/AFP.
L - Look Out
As a particular event unfolds in front of you, the focal point is not just that. Look around you. Check out people's reactions. If you're covering a news at a certain location where there's a prominent landmark people could relate to, try to include it in the photograph so we'd know it's not just an old stock photo dug out from archives and used for an event that doesn't suit the storyline. For instance, a shot of a protest in front of the White House without the White House in the background is just gonna end in the trash.
M - Medias
As a photographer, chances are your photos will end up on newspapers and magazines. TV may even pick it up and use it as a still if it's good. That's if your copyrights are opened for others to use, fundamentally with credits going back at you again. It's preferred that you choose one media of your choice first if you're starting up. If you're shooting for a local newspaper, don't worry about the artsy fartsy angles and composition as long as your editorial/caption that follows fit in the photograph itself. You'll worry more if you're attached with AP, AFP, Reuters, EPA, TIME, NY Times, etc. For magazines, you'll definitely wanna keep everything as artistic as possible. These people pay top dollars to keep their magazine's reputation, unless you're working for a gossip column. Unlike portraits though, you don't need a model release form or such for your works, but be mindful about other people's feelings if you misuse your works that could be hurtful or offending.
N - Nitpick
You have taken on film over 5 to 10 rolls, or filled up your entire CF card at a certain function. Take note: Only ONE photograph is what it takes to tell the entire story. Choose wisely. Unless you're making an editorial, a series of anywhere from 5 to 10 photographs are more than enough. Imagine writing a story for NY Times, and you have more photographs than a story when it gets published. Just doesn't work that way.
O - Objective
Who are you writing for? The press? Or the people? Why are you doing this? For general knowledge? Or just to fill up a news column? Before you go out and start wasting rolls and pixels, think of these questions. The good thing about doing it on deviantArt is there are immediate responses from your viewers on what you're trying to voice out from your photographs, if you're starting out in the industry. Be mindful that your responsibility is to chase the news as it uncovers, and knowing what you're there for helps to make you focus on what's there to do and tell the world.
P - Press Pass
If you're doing this for deviantArt alone, you are not a member of the press. If you are doing this for fun, you have a boundary to keep when covering a story: Outside. You're not allowed entry into specially appointed areas for the press. And no, taking a picture with your cellphone isn't journalism... it's you making a silly sight of yourself as a tourist and onlooker. However, if you insist, you can purchase a valid Press Pass from International Press Association (IPA), where they'll send you a Press ID, letter of authorization, a car sticker, and security pass. This still does not give you full rights and privilege to cover a story of your choice. You may write in on behalf of IPA, and submit your news therein at their website, or at deviantArt. What you'll receive is merely a Press ID, but to enter a function, you need to register as a member of the press and get a separate Press Pass. You're limited to the US First Amendment but if you're using an IPA tag outside the USA, be wary of the media laws of your country. But if you're attached to an actual media, you'll be given a Press ID. Please do not misuse it. More information
Q - Quit
...doing things that's unethical. Photomanipulation is definitely frowned upon. Your reputation will flush down the gutters if you ever change something that didn't happen in the first place. If you're in the industry, you'll know that your works will be under constant rebuke by your editors, and even if you submit as many as a thousand images, the end result will always be determined by your editor. So to win his heart, you may not wanna do something that may jeopardize your career and your agency. Please read through the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics for more information.
R - Research
Do your homework before you head out for your assignments. If you're covering a story, find out the who, what, why, and where. There are times when there may be two sides of a story, particularly from protests for instance. Find out what they are. Do not summarize. Include BOTH sides' story where possible. If you're doing something for deviantArt, include captions responsibly.
S - Strive
Keep up to date with what other journalists are doing, how they do it, and what makes you a competitive edge on channeling your news to the outside world. Press-photo isn't just merely taking photographs of newsworthy events. The industry is actually quite competitive, particularly when you're fighting to be on the front pages or a headline news. Does your photograph have that essence that makes us go WOW? Does it have artistic or journalistic value? As a photojournalist, you also set an example to your peers on your approach and technique. How far a distance would you go in order for you to take that illusive shot? How much respect do you give, or want to receive, from a news you're doing? Set your standards and style.
T - Technology
CNN iReporters have an edge these days: they can use any means to get their shot. DSLR, point-and-shoot cameras, disposables, heck, even cellphones. In today's world where any Tom, Dick and Harry can be a photojournalist, it's really up to you to use what kind of gears for this job. However, professionals commonly would chose a set of a high pixeled dSLR, a wide angle lens (ideally 17-40mm) for close up shots, or a telephoto range of 70-200mm or more with speeds of F/4 or F/2.8 depending on what they're shooting. If you're given an FTP pass from your agency, at times there's little to no room for post-edits that you're so used to at the comfort of your living room on PhotoShop CS, so you'll have to upload everything directly from camera to your laptop or server for your editors to pick. If you're a film photographer, a separate bag for your unused and used films would help you switch rolls in between shoots, but you'll just have to wait til you get to a darkroom to develop your shots and see which would work for you after a quick scan, then choose one for print, or scan then burn to CD the entire roll.
U - Unity
Once you consider yourself a photojournalist, you are in a united world of journalism. You are the voice, eyes, and ears for the world. You must remember that your work carries a strong role in the integrity and fidelity of journalism. Your colleagues are not only your editors or stringers (assistant), but the entire community of photo, video journalists and writers. If you're at the field, every member of the press is your brother and sister. This isn't an industry for sibling rivalries. Even if you have to do what it takes to take that shot, you still respect your own zone, that of your colleagues, as well as the environment you're shooting in.
V - Versatility
Film vs digital? Color vs black and white? Horizontal vs vertical? No, I'm not asking you to chose one of each. You must know how to work in all of those categories. You'd never know what kind of job you'd land in, so being knowledgeable with as much techniques as possible will reduce the time you'd spend on deciding what's best for your work. If you're doing for a newspaper, most photos chosen are horizontal styled. If it's gonna be at the front page, it's most definitely be in color. If you're doing a lifestyle shoot on a documentary basis, details are important. So chose wisely, or just be ready.
W - Writing
You're a press photographer if you decide to just take photographs. You're a journalist if you decide to just write. You're a photojournalist if you do both. Creativity in writing versus provision of relevant information of your storyline depends on what feature you're working on. If you're doing an advertorial of a new restaurant that asked you to critic on, a flair and flavor in your choice of word alongside mouth-watering photographs of their specials would help. But to overflow with flowery sentences and prose in a photograph of war or disaster would make it look downright stupid if not insensitive.
X - X-Factor
Wanna get voted for a Pulitzer or a World Press Photo award? Then do as much and extensive research on how those photographs get voted or even nominated. Here's some sample links:
~ World Press Photo
~ The Press Photographer's Year
~ Pictures of the Year International
~ Getty Images' Orchard Photographers
~ Pulitzer Prize for Photography
Y - Your Choice
Photojournalism covers many areas. For a complete listing of all types of journalism, click here.
Z - Zest
Each time a photograph depicting what we come to understand as photojournalism hits the street on news stands, we come to wonder if it's really something we can relate to. With so many pages on a newspaper, there's just so many articles and photographs to read and see. As a reader, how many of you flip pages faster than you change underwears? Chances are, 99% of you do it. Even headline photos on the front pages tend to be minimalistically mundane, and probably you'll see a really good one every now and then when there's a blue moon. If you're in the industry, add some flavor to your shot. If you're planning on making it big, add more spice. Just remember: do NOT manipulate your scene either on-location, or on your shots.