Monthly Archives: September 2013

Photojournalism Career Ranked Lower Than Dishwasher

So you’ve decided you want to be a photojournalist.  You’ve done research on the career and have come to accept the fact that you’ll never be rich. You’re prepared to spend more money on your gear than where you’ll be living and to invent your own holidays to make up for the ones you’ll be working through.

This doesn’t seem too bad though right? I mean, every career has its downfalls.

But then 2013 comes around the corner bringing with it CareerCast’s list of the 200 worst jobs in the world and your curiosity gets the best of you.

You start at number one, watching the jobs get worse based on hiring rate, stress, and work environment, as you scroll down the page. Then you see it. Sandwiched between Dishwasher and Corrections Officer sits Photojournalist at number 188.  For a brief moment you consider jumping to newspaper reporting and reassure yourself that you can write well, but then realize that a newspaper reporter ranks in at 200–the worst job in the world for 2013.

This becomes the moment when you realize whether or not photojournalism is a passion of yours. It’s this passion that will carry you through the late nights, low-income, constant stress, and life-threatening situations with a smile on your face and a certainty in your heart.

Pulitzer-Prize winner Cheryl Diaz Meyer once said, “In my heart, I truly believe that photojournalism is a calling, and that being allowed to witness and document the world’s news and sometimes tragedies, is an honor and a weighty responsibility.”

In those moments you’re reminded that being a Dishwasher is considered a step up from a Photojournalist, also remember that they’re stuck inside all day and don’t get to travel the world.

So hold onto that passion, pick up your camera, and go record history.

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Plummeting into Danger

If you type “movies about photojournalism” into Google and scroll down, you’ll see link after link of “top 10” “top 25” “top 30” movies that every photojournalist should see.  I’m going to focus on one film that  should be in each one of those categories.

The-Bang-Bang-Club-UK-Packshot

The Bang Bang Club, which premiered days after the deaths of  award-winning photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, presents the dangers and anguish that photojournalists work through to enlighten the world. It portrays the real-life stories of four South African combat photographers during the 1990s as they captured the brutality generated by free elections during post-Apartheid.

As photojournalists, we will always be asked why we do what we do when the risk of death is so high. We will be asked tough questions like when to draw the line between snapping the shutter and helping those around us.

Female-Starving-Sudanese-Toddler-and-Vulture-by-Kevin-Carter

There are many famous photographs of war that have been burned into our memory. The starving Sudanese child sitting on the ground while a vulture waits behind her during the 1993 famine not only won a Pulitzer prize, it brought the ethical nature of photographer Kevin Carter (one of the men portrayed in the movie) into question. He was widely criticized for not helping the child. He became depressed and later committed suicide. The Bang Bang Club focuses on these questions of morality and the ethical line we balance on.  It’s because of this that I recommend it to those of you considering this career.

Society needs to be reminded and photographers reassured that without our photographs, we lose our visual history. And because of this, there will always be someone jumping at the opportunity to accept these terrible risks with a sense of purpose.


A Wise Man

“For me, the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke humanity. If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war.”
– James Nachtwey