What press photographers do…

Every time you open a newspaper, click on a news website or check out what is happening in the world there is a very high chance that you will be looking at the work of a professional press photographer. From Tiananman Square to Old Trafford and from the red carpet at the latest film premiere to protests on the streets of our cities those iconic images were almost certainly produced by us and our colleagues.

It can be fun, it’s often exciting and it is regularly very dangerous. Press photographers go into situations where very few people apart from the emergency services and armed forces go because we take the job of recording the news and creating a historical record very seriously and because we believe in a free press. Our work sometimes has a very short ‘shelf-life’ but in that newspaper, that magazine or on that website and on that day it has real importance and our world would be poorer without it.

Next time you see a stunning news picture please think about what the photographer must have done to get it. The chances are that they got up early, travelled a fair way, used the skills that they have learned over several years and made full use of the latest technology to deliver it to their editors.

We often hear that these days “anyone can take a good picture” but that isn’t the point. Sure, most people take the odd good picture three or four times a year but professional press photographers do it 99.9% of the time, under pressure and to impossible deadlines and they have a damned good excuse for the 0.1% of occasions when their pictures might be considered less than good.

If that isn’t enough, press photographers do all of this within the law, within codes of conduct and under the watchful eye of a critical public. A public who often mistake badly behaved people with posh cameras – citizen journalists and citizen paparazzi – for the genuine professionals and tar us all with the same dirty brush.

This entry was posted in Journalism, Opinion, Press Photography and tagged , by dg28. Bookmark the permalink.

About dg28

I've been a full-time editorial & corporate photographer since 1986 and I'm still as passionate about the work now as I was then. These days I also write about photography, teach photography and act as a consultant on all things photographic - so, basically, photography is my professional life.

18 thoughts on “What press photographers do…

  1. Pingback: Press hear. | we produce beautifully crafted multimedia

  2. I strongly disagree with your characterization of citizen journalists as badly behaved people with posh cameras, but agree otherwise. Professional skills are important, and if you don’t value the difference now, you will when they’re gone.

    • We haven’t said that all citizen journalists are badly behaved – merely that most of the bad behaviour attributed seism to be from the citizens rather than the true professionals.

  3. … However, it should be all part of a delicious breakfast, where professional news photographers can sit alongside citizen journalists in a larger ecosystem. The key for news organizations and professionals alike is to understand where both fit in. Neither are going away.

  4. yea but tell publishers that if they stopped printing hand ins and getting their pages filled for feck all then we press photographers might make a living !!

  5. Good point well made.

    I’d like to see those twerps who run around occasional demos pretending to be photographers turn around publishable pictures from 3 jobs a day, 7 days a week, in the rain with fading light, subjects who don’t want to photographed, with the phone going, dodgy 3G connection, desperate for a wee and no sarnie for 6 hours.

    Of course they could be picture editors in a nice cosy office…

  6. Sure, most of your members are talented and dedicated people who produce stunning images on a regular basis.

    But some of them are scum!

    You need to weed them out and throw them out.

    • If you have name of BPPA members who you would categorise as “scum” please email them to us and we will investigate.

  7. Editors who have a good business and ethical photography background don’t accept images from just anyone because the do not know the ethics of that person. It is essential to know “who” is turning over work, to know if you can trust their photoshopping skills, that nothing has been added or taken out of the image. The writing that goes along with the image must be accurate with spelling correct. The big problem with the hobbyist who “wants to be published” and there fore gives their work for free or $10. is that their work is not verifiable, that person is not verifiable. I’ve noticed on some of tv shows they add disclaimers, “we cannot verify”. It was very disturbing when they were showing Kadaffi’s son from an amateur video saying that these were the last images of him then they added that they could not verify who took the video or if it was accurate information. In my opinion it was misleading news. It could have been taken at anytime.

  8. Pingback: What Do I Do? « benpruchnie

  9. Pingback: What Press Photographers do... - Lenny Warren / Warren Media. Press & PR photographer and video journalist based in Glasgow.

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