Survey Reveals The Truth About Photojournalists

What's the current state of news photography in 2015, where's it heading and are the people working in it happy? That's the questions a recent survey has tried to answer.

| Photographer

Photojournalists are mostly happy, enjoy their jobs and frown upon photo manipulation, a recent major survey has revealed.

The full results from the study, published yesterday, can be found in a huge document that takes an in-depth look at the current state of news photography and it's a rather interesting read. 

The study focuses on the photojournalist, but it actually looks at the world's professional photographic community as a whole as well. The research project was a joint venture by the University of Stirling, the World Press Photo Foundation and the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The report is based on an online survey of professional photographers who entered the 2015 World Press Photo Contest and a total of 1556 photographers from more than 100 countries took part in the survey. 


Survey Reveals The Truth About Photojournalists : Lens


You can read the 63-page document yourself but for those with less time, the research team has compiled 20 key findings from the report which you can find below. 

1. It's A Man's World 

The professional news photography world is dominated by men (85% of respondents were male). 

2. Working For Themselves 

60% of those who responded are self-employed.


3. It's A Full-Time Job 

75% of those surveyed work full-time as photographers. 


4. What's Their Title? 

40% call themselves photojournalists, 30% say they are documentary photographers and 14% say their job title is 'news photographer'. 


5. Photographic Styles 

New photography (19%), personal projects (18%), portraiture (14%) and sport (10%) were the photographic categories named. 


Survey Reveals The Truth About Photojournalists : Hockey

Photo by Daniel Bell 


6. The Lone Ranger 

80% said they work alone.


7. Stills Vs Video 

More than half (54%) concentrate on still photography and 93% said they would like to concentrate on still photography only however, one-third work with video through necessity or choice. 


8. Higher Education 

More than two-thirds of those who took part in the survey have a University-level qualification while one-quarter have no specific photographic training. 


9. Yearly Earnings 

Three-quarters have an annual wage of $40,000 (US) a year while one-third make $10,000 (US) a year or less. 


10. Unauthorised Image Use 

Image use without permission is a widespread problem and many who were surveyed have been affected by it and haven't received compensation. 


Survey Reveals The Truth About Photojournalists : Survey


11. Risk Level 

Working as a photographer is a potentially dangerous thing to be doing with more than 90% saying they have felt 'vulnerable to the threat of physical risk or injury at some point during their normal duties'. 


12. Ethics Is Important 

Almost all of who were surveyed say it's important for photojournalists to understand ethics, but some of what was reported suggest that current ethical guidelines aren't always adhered to. The digital era has also added 'new complexity and uncertainty' to the ethics surrounding professional journalism. 


13. Photo Manipulation Is A 'No-No' 

The manipulation of images is not something the majority of who were surveyed agree with (adding / removing content) and 76% agree it's a serious problem. Out of those who said they would class themselves as photojournalists or news photographers, 75% said they never alter images while the remaining numbers say they do alter the content of the images (not including cropping) they produce sometimes. 


14. Strike A Pose 

When asked if they pose subjects, ask them to repeat actions or pause while they are ready to take photos, 52% said 'sometimes' while 36% said 'never'. 12% said they do so at least half of the time. 


15. Shooting RAW 

Over half say they 'often or always' enhance the in-camera or RAW files by altering contrast, saturation hue or tone while 10% said they never do this. 


16. The Citizen Photographer 

While some say citizen / amateur photographers 'constitute a risk to their livelihoods most who were surveyed feel either neutral or see it as a positive development. 


17. Personal Website Use

63% of those who responded say a personal website is important / very important for their work and more than half say they often / always use social media as part of their work with only 11% never using it. 


Survey Reveals The Truth About Photojournalists : Website


18. Social Media 

Facebook is the most popular social network for photographers, the study says. Instagram and Twitter follow along behind. 


19. Social Media Benefits 

75% of the photographers surveyed say they have received benefits from social media, of which 40% say the benefits are 'non-financial' and 23% say they do have financial benefits. 


20. Photojournalists Are Happy 

Overall, the survey results suggest that the majority of people working in this sector are happy, get a lot of job satisfaction and are positive about the future. The findings say: "Notwithstanding the low financial rewards, industry challenges, and physical risks, the survey evidence suggest that there is a high degree of job satisfaction, creative expression and personal reward among professional photographers. 

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