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Media Job: Press Photographer

Press photographers provide complementary visuals for news stories and features for newspapers and news agencies. They are journalists as well as photographers. Their photographs try to capture the mood or feeling of particular events and people in the news on a daily basis. They sometimes work with reporters covering stories.

Images are invariably shot on location, using hand-held cameras with a portable electronic flash, and increasingly using digital equipment. For smaller newspapers the role of press photographer and journalist are blurred. Press photographers sometimes specialise in a particular field, such as sports or food photography but in the Caribbean they usually are not assigned to a specific beat.

Press photographers are not to be confused with Photojournalists. The latter works for magazines and provides both the images and words for stories. They often suggest the story themselves rather than follow a brief from a news or picture editor.

Press Photographers need skill in handling a camera even though many functions are now automatic. They need expert knowledge of suitable photographic equipment, combined with the ability to recognize a developing situation, and to adopt the right approach, in terms of both positioning and reporting. They must be able to work quickly under pressure, effectively manipulating both equipment and people.

A press photographer should be able to demonstrate:
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Patience, perseverance and stamina
  • Good self-presentation and appropriate dress
  • Quick-thinking and awareness, and be able to meet strict deadlines
  • Creativity and inventiveness

Experience/Entry Requirement

Entrants must be fully trained before entering the profession. A good grounding in photographic techniques, and an understanding of how the reporting/ publishing industries work, provide the best base for gaining further experience. For formal entry press photographers generally need at least 4 CXCs, including English and Mathematics or Accounting along with evidence of photographic work.

Entry: J$60,000 - J$65,000 per month gross
Managerial: approx. J$130,000 per month gross

Transportation is usually arranged by the newspaper, but a traveling allowance and per diem are also paid for assignments in the rural areas.

Depending on the press photographers' level of qualification, they may be eligible for additional benefits such as uniform allowance.

Press photographers can rise up the ranks to photo editor and chief photographer after years of experience and quality of work. Other opportunities may lay in sectors such as Advertising, Fashion, Medical and Forensic.

Source: Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies.
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