Newspaper Photography

Press photographers photograph newsworthy people, places and sporting, political, and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television

Newspaper photography, often referred to as press photography, has a glamorous image based on the lifestyle of those who work for the national newspapers.

News photographers also called photojournalists, photograph newsworthy people, places and sporting, political, and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television.

Many photographers are attracted to the field of newspaper photography by what they believe to be the possibility of travelling around the world, capturing history in the making and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

For the vast majority of photographers the truth is nothing like this image. Most newspaper photographers work for one of the 90 or so provincial daily or evening papers or for 1,500 weeklies.

Some news photographers are salaried staff; others are self-employed and are known as freelance photographers. The newspaper industry has now introduced National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for photographers.

National Newspapers

The 'nationals' do not take part in the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) training scheme and only recruit experienced personnel, often with a proven track record or flair in a particular specialist field (e.g. sports photography).

The competent use of a camera as a tool (taken for granted at this level) will be less important than the ability to handle people and have the diplomacy, persistence and stamina to be in the right place at the right time and meet the deadlines imposed by the Picture Editor. Today's news picture is useless tomorrow.

Local or Regional Newspapers

Local newspaper photography is often the art of making the mundane or commonplace (e.g. the Church Bazaar, Flower Show or recording a Golden Wedding) appear fresh and interesting.

News pictures are likely to be the recording of a local accident, demonstration or the visit of a local politician or celebrity. It is the ability to see an 'angle' and present the material well which separates the good press photographer from the also-rans.

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Freelance Photographers

It is still possible for a freelance photographer without any formal training to sell pictures directly to a Picture Editor of a newspaper or magazine if pictures are of a good enough standard and cover subject areas missed by staff photographers.

Most Picture Editors will consider work 'on spec' but also commission established freelance photographers. The Bureau of Freelance Photographers (see details below in Employment section) offers help to those attempting to start out in this way.

Employment in Newspaper Photography

Newspaper photography is one of the few areas which offer a structured training scheme.

There are two possible routes into the newspaper photography field . One is by direct entry where trainee reporters and photographers are recruited directly by regional or local newspapers and carry out their basic training under the terms of a training contract. There are also those who may have secured employment with a newspaper group which runs its own training scheme.

Apply directly to the editor of a regional or local newspaper for employment as a trainee. Their names and addresses can be obtained from current editions of Benn's UK Media Directory and Willings Press Guide. Copies are available at libraries under the reference section.

An alternative way to be recruited into the industry is after attending full-time college/university courses. Such courses are held at colleges and universities accredited by the NCTJ (please see below for further details). Some of these courses are for graduates only; others require five GCSEs including English and two A-levels. This route is known as pre-entry and candidates undergo intensive practical and theoretical training to prepare them for their career.

Further information and resources

The Newspaper Society
St Andrew's House
18-20 St Andrew Street
London EC4A 3AY

T: 020 7632 7400
F: 020 7632 7401

The Newspaper Society represents and promotes the interests of Britain's regional and local media. In its 'Local Media Search' section, there is a comprehensive directory of regional and local newspaper websites.

National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)
The New Granary
Station Road
Saffron Walden
Essex CB11 3PL

T: +44 (0)1799 544014
F: +44 (0)1799 544015

The National Council for the Training of Journalists delivers the premier journalism training scheme in the UK. Their range of journalism training products and services includes: accredited courses; qualifications and examinations; awards; careers information; distance learning; short courses and continuing professional development; information and research; publications and events. They play an influential role in all areas of journalism education and training.

They offer a Photo-journalism course with photography as its foundation. Tutors will help you to develop natural news sense in tune with an ability to use a camera and ancillary equipment to the best advantage. There is also a comprehensive reporter module.

Alternatively you can choose the press photography course which contains all the above elements without the reporter's module.

Click on the below link for a list of NCTJ accredited courses:

Benn's Media Directory and Willing's Press Guide.

Those applying directly to employers can obtain lists of names and addresses of regional and local newspapers in 220 countries from Benn's Media Directory or Willing's Press Guide.

Copies of directories are also available in local public libraries.

The Bureau of Freelance Photographers

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