So, you’re considering freelancing as a photojournalist? Exciting!
Photojournalism plays a massive part in presenting news stories to the world. Without the picture you take, audiences wouldn’t be able to see news stories the same way.
But becoming a freelancer in any field takes time, dedication and patience, and it isn’t for everyone. That said, if you know this is the career for you, keep reading.
This guide will show you how to become a freelance photojournalist and the steps you need to take to succeed, including:
- Acquire the relevant skills and training
- Get the right equipment
Tips on how to become a freelance photojournalist
Check out the following steps to help you become a freelance photojournalist.
Acquire the relevant skills and training
While you don’t need any official training to be a freelance photojournalist, you do need certain abilities to succeed in the field.
For starters, you need to be a great photographer that’s able to capture key moments almost without thinking about it. Photojournalists get and keep jobs based on their ability to take photos others can’t.
You might only have a split second to capture an action occurring or someone’s reaction. So you need to be comfortable taking pictures under pressure in chaotic situations.
Education and training can help by teaching you the principles of great photography and about the history of photojournalism. You can also learn how to operate your equipment properly.
There are courses available from various organisations, including:
Get the right equipment
While you can start a career as a freelance photojournalist with your smartphone camera, you’re more likely to land decent jobs with professional equipment.
To separate yourself from casual bystanders, at least invest in:
- A high-quality DSLR camera
- An assortment of lenses
- A suitable flash
- Memory storage cards
- A camera bag or case for travelling
- Photo editing hardware and software
- A reliable tripod
You don’t have to spend a fortune on all this stuff, to begin with. As long as the camera is in good condition, you’re fine to buy it second-hand from eBay. You can always upgrade when you begin making more money.
It’s also crucial to store your images safely and back them up so you don’t lose them. Uploading your photos to cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox keeps them safe and allows you to access them anywhere.
Understand the legal stuff
As a freelance photographer in any field, it’s important to understand the legalities around copyright and selling your work. You also need to know how laws work around taking photos of people in public places and on public property.
For example, according to the UK 2000 Terrorism Act, you can’t photograph a police officer, armed forces or security service member –– anything that can be useful to a terrorist.
Organisations like the Institute of Photography have guides you can read to learn more about these things.
Build a professional portfolio
To land a good photojournalism job, you need a strong online portfolio that shows off your best work. The best way to create one is to set up and launch a website to demonstrate your skills.
Your website is the first place prospects will go to check you out, making it your shot to win them over and make them want to do business with you.
These days, it’s fairly straightforward to create a high-quality website. Simply use one of the tools below:
Use your website as a hub for client communication, managing orders and showing off what you can do. Let your photos do the talking, only accompanied by a short bio and a summary of your experience to explain the image(s).
If you don’t have a solid portfolio, you’ll need to get out there and take some stunning photos to assemble one before approaching potential clients. Without evidence to prove your abilities, you’ll struggle to get paying clients on board.
Get your first clients
Once you have a portfolio and the right equipment, it’s time to get out there and find some clients. Finding your first paying clients can be tricky, so prepare yourself for some hustling.
You might find it easier to get to these clients if you sign up to freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr. By registering with these platforms, you can target people already looking for your services.
You want to use every online and offline resource you have to find potential clients and present your work. Know anyone in journalism? Great! Reach out to them and ask if they know of any opportunities.
It’s important to remember that in the early days, even smaller jobs with little or no pay are still great for experience, building your portfolio and gaining some references.
Bonus tip! Keep up with current events. This way, you can get to the right place at the right time to capture exclusive photos, and highlight opportunities to your clients.
Manage your finances carefully
As a freelancer, it’s crucial to stay on top of your finances to make sure you don’t run out of money during your solo-business venture.
Until you start generating reliable income from clients, you need to sustain your lifestyle and pay your bills by other means. Starting off, you might be best off keeping your current job until your freelancing pays off.
In addition, good financial management also allows you to budget and set money aside to tide you over during less busy periods.
Don’t worry; staying on top of your finances doesn’t have to be complicated or tedious. If you use a tool like Countingup, you can track your income, expenses, estimated tax, and use other tools to make it easier. Read more below.
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For more information on running a business, check out: