Building A Photojournalism Portfolio
September 6, 2013
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Assembling a portfolio is essential for every type of photographer, but when you're going into news photography or photojournalism, showcasing a variety of images that highlight your versatility is crucial. Here's what you should include in a photojournalism portfolio.
Include pictures of people in their "natural habitat," whether that's a busy bank counter, a serene beach, a crowded factory or the middle of a muddy farm field. Although these kinds of portraits don't require a muslin backdrop, they are posed and visually tell a story about their subjects.
Spot News Photos
Show off your good judgment and skill for shooting quickly-changing news events. These images might focus on a house fire, a car accident, rising flood waters or a hostage stand-off. These shots should elicit emotion from the viewer but be respectful to the people (and their families) involved in the news events.
Feature News Photos
For most news publications, these are the bread-and-butter shots. Unposed feature news photos are ideally presented as a short photo essay of three to five images, showing off a close-up, a mid-range and a wide-angle view from one event.
For example, a story about a farmer offering free hayrides and pumpkin picking to local children makes a great seasonal story. Include a wide angle picture showing the autumn landscape dotted with children and pumpkins, a mid-range picture of an adult riding with a smiling child on the hay rack and then finish the series with a close-up of tiny fingers wrapped around a fresh-picked miniature pumpkin.
Sports Action Shots
Every newspaper has a sports section, whether it covers local high school athletes or a professional team. Pick your best, hard-hitting action shots to include in your portfolio. Each photo should show the ball, a jersey number (so a cutline to identify the athlete can be written), and emotion. Pictures that make you say, "Ouch!," "Wow!" or "How did he ...?" are the perfect choices.
In addition to action shots, newspapers need portraits of athletes who win awards or take new positions. Although this is an environmental portrait of sorts, you need to clearly highlight the sports connection. Sideline shots of an athlete high-fiving the coach just won't cut it. Instead, pose the athlete on the sports field or court, in a clean uniform, and use portable lighting.
Still Life Images
Although not as exciting as sports and news shots, you should include still life photos in your portfolio, too. The Food, Living and Entertainment sections use these types of images all the time, and an artfully styled basket of yarn and crochet hooks, tray of colorful vegetables or pile of camping gear will show off your ability to work with a concept.
Every photojournalism portfolio should include something unexpected. Before reaching for a photo from art class, remember that you're showing your work to media professionals. Show off a favorite photography technique or creative use of lighting. For example, a portrait created in an unexpected location, like a hot air balloon basket, and shot with an ultrawide 12mm lens, shows off your creativity and your adventuresome nature.
What challenges do you face as you build your photography portfolio? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo source: Morguefile