I'm interested in pursuing a career in photojournalism but with no photography-based qualifications I'm wondering what I'll need to get into it.

Most places I've read suggest starting out in a local newspaper to build a portfolio to move onto national (if you wanted to) but even for local press what are the entry requirements?

I've about a years photography experience and I live in Scotland, UK.

Any info would be muh appreciated,


  • 1
    I work in the newspaper industry in America, but I don't know enough about the UK newspaper industry to give a real answer. I'd suggest finding a few photographers at local newspapers to talk to and I'd try to get a real sense of the opportunities available -- both what kind of work you would end up doing and what kind of pay you could expect. Dec 28 '10 at 13:29
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    It should be noted that the answers to your other question will also apply for photojournalism. Spur-of-the-moment shots usually require faster lenses just like night/dark photography of concerts does. A full kit replacement would really be ideal if you wish to photograph both concerts and do photojournalism, as the kit you currently have is really not up to snuff for what you want to do.
    – jrista
    Dec 28 '10 at 20:41
  • So it's really all about fast lenses then? Is there anytihng I can do to compensate?
    – iamjonesy
    Dec 30 '10 at 15:33

You don't mention whether your goal is to be a staff photographer (paid a regular salary to take photographs by a news outlet of some variety), or a freelance photographer who takes on journalistic assignments. Both routes are difficult, however becoming a staff photographer is the more difficult of the two routes... Even more-so in a recession, and in an industry that's in serious decline...

I had a journalism professor who used to give his ironic/sarcastic 'four step formula for being a photojournalist' which went something like this:

  • Step 1: Get a full time job doing something other than photojournalism.
  • Step 2: Become friends with the publisher of the news source you want to work for and hope they give you a call.
  • Step 3: Spend 30 years doing the job in step 1.
  • Step 4: Retire.

I've watched several of my students try to break into photojournalism over the years with varying degrees of success. In my experience breaking into photojournalism is a little like breaking into the record business... It requires a lot of hustle, a lot of unpaid hard work, some serious networking and schmoozing, a lot of time, and a fair amount of luck.

Disclaimer: I'm in the US, not the UK. I kinda doubt there's a lot of difference, but just in case there is... You've been warned! ;-)

  • thanks for the warning! I've got step 1 down to a t. Web developer :D
    – iamjonesy
    Dec 29 '10 at 9:51

It's very difficult to get a job as a staff photographer these days, with the advent of digital photography, the traditional media relies more on contributed pictures from readers than they used to.

Photojournalism relies on a few basic concepts:

  • Being in the right place, at the right time.
  • Capturing the image that sums up the story.
  • Getting it to the editor in a timely manner.

Probably your best bet would be to build a portfolio of images that you've contributed to the press that have been published - this is the sort of thing that you could whilst pursuing other avenues that will provide a revenue stream such as stock photography. some of the stock libraries, such as Alamy (Who are fairly big in the UK market) have a dedicated stream for current affairs imagery, and it may be worth using that as one option, at least until you could secure a position as a staff photographer.


I've only just started out as well, but I've found the entry requirements are having your own kit, having some photos that prove you can do the job, being reliable, fast, available, and (unless you're really good / lucky) free.

Starting with the locals is sound advice. Try to find the contact details for the Picture Editor. Send links to your stuff and hope that someone has recently dropped off their register. Don't take it personally if they say no - they only need so many on their books at a given time.

Beyond that, "f/8 and be there".

  • cheers Scott, good to see another Edinburgher on here!
    – iamjonesy
    Dec 29 '10 at 10:04

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