Those are feelings that are difficult to recreate, making it tough to tear some WPJA members away from the news profession altogether.
But there certainly are enough elements of the photojournalist’s life that make a full-time career in the business difficult. Unless you’re at the top of the game, the pay generally is sub-par, and there are numerous amateur photographers and budding photojournalists willing to step into your shoes. The hours and travel can become grueling for anyone wanting to raise a family or pursue other interests.
The news industry is also in flux, with the internet and 24-hour cable networks capturing ever more viewers while sucking up much of the advertising revenues that conventional news operations have depended on to maintain their business. According to recent surveys, only about 38 percent of Americans currently read a daily newspaper, and the number is continuing to drop. The number of newspapers in the country has also been heading downward, dropping over 20 percent in the last three decades.
Suffice it to say, it’s a tough situation right now for photojournalists. Besides the declining opportunities, traditional media outlets offer very little space or time for in-depth photojournalism. This is compounded by the “Paparazzi Effect,” where photojournalists, especially in large metro areas, are relegated to chasing down celebs or high-profile personalities in “gotcha”-type scenarios. A grim task indeed.
Given all of this, a number of WPJA members have had to constantly balance the drive to capture the news in pictures with the necessity to create a living for themselves, as news photojournalism has increasingly become a losing financial proposition. For many, wedding photojournalism has come to the rescue, offering a means of flexibility and extra income while essentially doing the same job.