What It’s Like to Be a Photojournalist

Photojournalists can’t rely on elaborate lighting equipment or Photoshop to craft award-winning shots. Instead, they must wait for the crucial moment when all elements of their photographic story come together. Every day they are challenged to combine context and aesthetic to tell a visual tale.

In this video, photographers from the 2013 Pictures of the Year International Awards share their insights about what it’s like to be a professional photojournalist:

The responsibility of a photojournalist is to document situations for the world to see. Paul Hansen describes his role as a “voyeur of life.” His images bear witness to realities that others may never experience. Similarly, Judy Walgren sees it her job to give a voice to people whose predicaments may otherwise go unnoticed.

All of the photographers in the video discuss the significant impact of their photographs. A photo of an event unfolding is a piece of instant history that captures a distinct moment in time and lets the viewer think about what happened before and after the shutter clicked.

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Photo by Brent Stirton

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Photo by Paul Hansen

According to the featured photographers, the key to success as a photojournalist is to be an empathetic storyteller. Though the journalism piece of the career is vital to success, it’s even more critical that a photojournalist can relate to his or her subjects. The photographer must put herself in each subject’s shoes in order to understand the story and the emotions that are to be shared.

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Photo by Paul Hansen

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Photo by Paul Hansen

“If you understand the story and you understand why you’re telling the story and why it’s important, everything else will fall into place.” –Liz Baylen

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