Since there’s no way to gauge the extent of knowledge in any subject, because all knowledge is infinite, I figure I just don’t know much. But what I do know, I’m happy to share.
So, what do I know?
I know that the photojournalism community is contracting, evolving and expanding all at once. I know there are lots of talented photojournalists and some not-so-talented ones. I know there are photojournalists who can handle a spreadsheet and those who don’t know a thing about business.
And that’s where my talk at Wednesday’s 10th Annual Sports Shooter Academy workshop began. With the Business of Photojournalism. We talked about the recent evolution that has resulted in an influx of veteran staffers joining the freelancing world together with J-school grads, the importance of licensing and copyright, and how to develop clients. It was a fraction of what needs to be addressed, but I left the workshop feeling excited by the fact that so many people stopped to tell me (and tweet) afterward that they really enjoyed the talk and are hungry for this information. One asked if I would do consultation over the phone as he lived out of town. That means they’re eager to learn. And the more educated they are, the better off the profession is as a whole.
Yet I wonder, are the journalism schools addressing these topics? Are seminars dealing with the myriad of issues that a freelancer has to navigate on a daily basis? A few are, but from what I heard yesterday, there sure aren’t many. And that’s bewildering. Why would we prepare or educate students to excel technically (lighting classes, multimedia courses, digital darkroom classes), then teach them some history and ethics, but fail to give them the information needed to successfully be a freelancer?
Could it be because many of the schools are so entrenched and unwilling to change that they simply don’t see the significance? Have the tenured faculty been in the classrooms too much and missed out on the huge transformation in the profession? Well, let’s add that to what I don’t know, but suffice it to say, the vast majority of photojournalism grads will grab their degrees and be catapulted into the world of freelance with little or no knowledge of the profession.
But the information is out there, so the profession’s newest freelance photojournalists (by choice or not) simply have to go out and find it. Attend workshops like the Sports Shooter Academy and Luau, NPPA Business Blitz and events hosted by the various professional organizations like ASMP and APA. In other words, if you want it bad enough, go get it because it will change the way you handle your career.