Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why is it so hard to get a job

This is intended for entry-level photographers who have not landed a full-time job yet.

For those who have photojournalism experience via school newspapers and or internships you might ask why is it so hard to get a job?

It has always been hard to get a staff job as a photojournalist. Today is no different. It took me 5 years of sharpening my skills and 3 years of pounding on doors before I landed my first job at 20,000 circulations 6 day a week PM paper. That was 20 years ago!

As an entry level photographer being good is not enough. You have to be totally competent in all areas of photography. Making technically excellent frames, to proficiency in post-production and multimedia.

Beyond your skill set you have to be a good fit on a photography staff. One bad attitude can bring down an entire staff. So attitude is very, very, very important. So, if you’re a legend in your own mind, but it in your back pocket and humble yourself, you haven’t done shit yet.

If you have working experience in multimedia specifically video, Soundslides, Final Cut Pro, Avid and Flash your resume rises above those that don’t. If you’re bilingual a huge plus, all these extra skills help raise your stock as a candidate for staff positions.

You all have heard that newspapers are laying people off by the thousands. Declining readership, declining advertising revenue and escalating production costs. Most newspapers are shrinking not expanding.

The economy will recover. Jobs will come back. Dedication, commitment and fortitude to endure ruff times will test your will. I am one that is living proof if you want something bad enough you will do what ever it takes to make it happen. If that means being a bell-hoop, waiter, waitress, food stamps then so what do it. I will spare you my story. But it was no easy road. I was not one of the lucky ones that landed a job right out of college.

One of my pet peeves is that many students tell me they want to be a sports photographer or sports is their favorite thing to shoot. Really, just about everyone likes to shoot sports. It is so cliché. If you’re talking to a newspaper photo editor don’t tell me you want to be a sports illustrated photographer someday. This tells me you don’t give a shit about the human condition and that you will most likely be lazy when it comes to enterprising stories. Red flag!

A full-time working photojournalist needs to be good in all areas of photography portraiture, general news, spot news, food, interior exterior architecture, fashion, lighting, documentary, wild art enterprise and sports. Most staff photographers will shoot 600 to 700 assignments a year. At least 90 percent of these are general assignment not sports.

I want to meet photographers who are proactive and enterprising. Who have a curiosity about the human condition and is willing to walk about and find stories without provocation.

This is a great job without a doubt but it is also a demanding job with an underlining of expectation and pressure to perform at a high level with every assignment everyday.


Heidi Huber said...

You better go to Look3 Festival of the Photograph next year. Honestly.
Mind-blowing. Way too much information. I dig the grammar, a few errors, but nothing worth getting on your case about. :)

Bettina Hansen said...


Your post makes me feel a little better. I know my skills aren't quite there yet, but I hope I have shown you and others that I have the dedication at least to excel in this job, if not the job market. I miss you and would love to get together soon. I will come by the office when I can.

deannadent said...

Brad, I love you. It is great to hear some positive words about the job market. As for me I'm moving to South America and when I do you're required to take a break and come join me.

Ashley Lowery said...

I'm glad you put it in writing, Brad. Thanks!

Courtney Sargent said...


It has been an incredible experience. Very emotionally, physically and photographically challenging at times but mostly very powerful. This internship has been an amazing learning experience and I could not have asked for a better opportunity.

Thank you for the great suggestions! I will definitely do some sort of soundslide. We recently got a couple Marantz at The Gazette and the audio quality is above and beyond anything I have used before for soundslides.

Oh and I hope you don't mind me snipping in on your blog too! I have been keeping up with it since the initial post and I love it. Especially this particular post! Very helpful and refreshing to hear. Thanks Brad!


Corey Perrine said...

One of the most well written articles on this subject I've read. Great insight Brad.