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Do I need to be in a photography program during college?

I want to be a photojournalist. I'm not sure if there is a direct degree linked to the occupation, but I am currently thinking about majoring in communications with a focus on multimedia. Will that give me the tools/experience I need to pursue my dream job? #photography #college #prepfuture #naturephoto #questions

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Ken’s Answer

There is possibly too much emphasis placed on a college education. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I have questioned the need for college many times. Here sites that would be very helpful for you to read before forming a definite opinion or taking action on your interests.

Should You Go To College


My Biggest Regret: Going to College


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Dennis’s Answer

Hello Ciara:

I think you are asking two questions.

First, how does one become a photojournalist? As many former photojournalists will tell you, photojournalism is a dying occupation. With the decline in the number of newspapers and magazines and the reduced budgets of the few the remaining, staff positions and freelance jobs as a photojournalist are both rare.

Second, will a college degree with a major in communications lead to a dream job? As an editorial photographer for four decades who did assignments for magazines, and sometimes newspapers, and as a stock travel photographer for books, travel brochures, calendars, et al, I believe having a well-rounded college experience with knowledge of many subjects was very much worth it. This certainly is a must in the many diverse and flexible aspects of the field of communications. Writing skills, and optional visual media skills (photography, video, multimedia), will be essential for opening up opportunities for you to pursue, such as in <span style="color: rgb(102, 102, 102);">business, marketing, education, politics and public relations</span>. Will it lead to a dream job? My advice is to dream big and take advantage of opportunities as one usually leads to another and another. But first, get that broad education.

Dennis recommends the following next steps:

Research the best communications schools. The Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse comes to mind.

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David’s Answer

Hi Ciara,

To answer your question: no, you do not need a photography degree to pursue photojournalism. And, I believe the course of study you have mentioned will serve you well as you follow your passion. Definitely study photography, both still and video, as you will need to demonstrate your skills in these areas.

I noticed in some of the other answers, the authors suggested: maybe you do not need a college education and photojournalism is a dying profession. I do not agree with either of those opinions. Getting an education is not a waste of time nor money. It exposes you to ideas and experiences which are invaluable in life. I agree earning a living in the arts is not easy. But, if you have the determination and skills to succeed you should be able to make a living. I suggest you take a marketing class because if you end up freelancing you will need that information. Freelancers, in general, only spend 20% of their time with a camera and 80% marketing themselves as they seek assignments.

I hope this helps you and I wish you the best as you follow your dream.

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Christopher’s Answer

Your current plan will be far more valuable than a photography degree. Use the multimedia focus to photograph for your college/local Newspapers, Yearbooks, etc. Take every assignment you can, sports, theater, alumni events, etc.

Definitely look into video documentation and editing. Most jobs I see posted for "photojournalist" are actually asking for 50-75% of the time to be video based, it seems.