Photojournalism Q & A
Caitlin Kenney is a photojournalist focused on military, government reporting and Afghanistan. You can follow her twitter @ccoug.
1. What’s your name, age and occupation?
Caitlin, 23, Reporter
2. How did you get your start doing photojournalism?
Around 2005 I got my first digital camera and just started photographing everything around me. When people started showing interest in my work, including asking for signed copies, I knew that I could make this work that I love a career. I worked for my high school paper, then college paper as a photographer. It was in college that I got my first real experience as a photojournalist and I’ve been continuing my work and education in it ever since.
3. What draws you to this over other forms of media?
I’ve done a lot of video, audio, and social media, but this form of media gives me an emotional connection to the subject. You can concentrate more on a single photograph than a passing video clip. Photos have stopped me dead in my tracks and they haunt my memory like ghosts.
4. Is there one rewarding/self-validating moment you’d like to share?
Just when editors give me the room to do an assignment how I think it should be done. That tells me they trust me enough to tell the story the way it needs to be told.
5. What’s the industry like right now?
There are jobs but maybe not as many as say 15 years ago. I think you also have to be more adaptable to difference scenarios that may come up in reporting. You may have to take photos AND video AND tweet and be good at all of them. I think everyone should specialize in one media or the other, but be effective in all others. This knowledge has helped me land jobs, without a doubt.
6. How does it differ/how is it similar to other fields within media?
Just from my experience, I think that photojournalism makes you stay for an entire event. There are some that force you to submit photos during, but I’ve seen broadcast journalists who are only there for 30 minutes and then leave for air time. And in one case missing a crucial aspect of a controversial story.
7. Any advice you can give for someone looking to enter the industry?
Don’t give up and always network. Keep training, reading, practicing, learning. Skills are only good as long as you keep them well oiled. Even if in the beginning you can’t go straight into photojournalism for say financial reasons, get a job, save up for a photo trip, and go for it. Most photographers I’ve met are very helpful and willing to give some tips when asked.
8. How important is professional training (a degree, for example) in this field? Why is that?
I think the technical training can be learned by anyone, whether in school or on their own. But I think the academic dialogue about journalism ethics and law are worth the degree. But I think everyone chooses their own paths and has their own reason for doing a degree or picking it up on their own.
9. What’s the hardest part about your job?
I think right now for me it’s the financial costs. As a recent graduate, I don’t always have the money to buy new camera bodies or lenses for my job so I have to rely on places I work at to supply them. But now that I may be freelancing, I probably will have to invest more into my own gear without knowing if I will get a job to pay it off.
10. Anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for including me in this!