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Thread: Need Advice: Route to photojournalism

  1. #21

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    Can I hijack this thread for a while.

    How much does a journalist/photojournalist earns in Singapore?

  2. #22
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    Plenty of good advice around, some dodgy advice too.

    I would definitely be wary of PSS courses, or any other courses for that matter. Some may help, but some will very well hinder. Good photojournalism is good photography, and good photography is an art rather than a science. You can only learn so much in the classroom, but eventually you must do. And going through a course might lead to a false sense of not needing to go out and do.

    Make no bones about it, photojournalism is not a well paying job in the grand scheme of things. Calling it a calling (sorry...) is probably a cliche, and probably not completely true either. That said, you can make a reasonable living from it. Based on Parchiao's checklist... I have landed property and a 1600cc car soon to be a European marque. I don't have a family but I don't think that's a money or job related issue. Okay, so I haven't done it in Singapore where it costs about 50x more to get landed property and a car, but if anything this only goes to show that it can be done, even if you need to be a bit more creative about how you do it.

    Photojournalism is probably the one photographic line where a degree or other educational qualification could come in useful. However, the importance is not as much as you would imagine for other jobs. In photojournalism it tends to come as a bonus, rather than a requirement. I do have a number of friends who studied photography in some guise or the other (some of them only A levels for example) but they are not doing what they're doing because of their educational qualification. And I myself have absolutely no photographic qualifications.

    Photojournalists work on different bases. Some are staff (such as myself), some work on shifts (as I have in the past), some work on spec (as I have in the past). I suspect the vast amount of Singapore work is staff based, although I believe Reuters and other such companies have stringers on shifts as well, although my knowledge of the situation in Singapore is fudgy.

    It's Brian van der Beek, not van de Breek. He's a top lad, didn't know he was working for ST now. We don't know each other in person (although I have interacted with him online) but I've seen his early work, 'nuff respect.

    Photojournalism doesn't have to be art, and therefore sacrifice. It can be a perfectly respectable 9 to 5 type of job (at least in terms of a regular decent salary), just not a regular high salary. If that's what you'd be alright with, then that's fine. Just don't expect to compare it to law, or David Beckham class salaries.

    Tearsheets are useful, but you have to realise that in an open market, the guy after the job you're also after is also going to have tearsheets. Have them, but make sure they're good top quality stuff. The best pictures never get published (well, okay, some do, but many don't), so definitely don't just build your portfolio from work that is published.

    I'd approach self-publishing extremely cautiously. The book market is exceedingly poor in Singapore. It's a big gamble to take, and if it comes off then you're laughing, but if, as chances are it will, fail, then you're left with a hole in a pocket that you're already in all likelihood struggling to fill.

    Sex, prostitution and AIDS make juicy stories, yes. Other more routine subjects don't. But the bottom line is that in Singapore, the freelance photojournalist market is very poor, last I checked. SPH having a monopoly doesn't help, there's very little impetus for them to select better pictures than what they have already available to them. Paying for pictures is the exception rather than standard practice.

    I disagree with Sadness' perceptions of fashion, sports and nature photographers. Actually, he didn't say very much, aside from fashion photographers earning good $$. The good $$ thing can be true, but not all the time. Photojournalistic based fashion snappers earn lousy money too. Good travelling? Hardly. Like *most* work related travel, it's not really travel. I should know.

    On the topic of internship. Go assist a photographer *in the same field you want to work in*. Working with a good photojournalist is a completely different experience to working with a good commercial photographer. If anything, you don't learn anything directly from working photojournalists; you'll turn up with him/her, you'll both shoot, and then you'll go back and look and his work and feel stupid and see things you never saw at the time. But eventually that will rub off.

    Does it need to be said that I agree with Ian's advice?

    Your one unanswered question is whether you have a choice as to your area of photojournalism. In Singapore I would say it is very difficult. Over here the field is far more open, and there are dedicated news guys, dedicated sports guys, dedicated royals snappers, dedicated paparazzo. The lot. You can always aim high but be prepared to make compromises.

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    Take Jed's and Ian's advice. I personally feel that that's closest to reality - in and outside of Singapore.

    Route of advancement - be real. This is Singapore. Materialism still counts above everything else no matter how you look at it or how various govt campaigns put it. Go get yourself a degree as your first priority!

    For this you can take up NTU's Comm Studies course or any other univ course. It'll provide an alternative livelihood lest you decide along the way to keep your interest at the hobby level. Or it may offer you a slightly higher level of maturity in learning and understanding when you go into business.

    Internship with SPH is another step you'll want to place on your roadmap. But till then, you ought to explore assisting photogs and the like in shoots, commercial work, etc, etc. Pay-wise.... let me add my own perspective - had I stayed on in the Civil Service, I would be earning 2X what I am today. But that need not imply that photojournalism is a low-paying field. Read Jed's 3rd para.

    PSS courses.... well, I'd take a big pinch of salt there as I have received a very poor impression of PSS not so long ago. It will serve you better to get a good sense of the world around (by way of learning from mentors, being an asst, knowing more...) rather than follow what that bunch has to offer.

    hai dong worth.

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    Default Photojournalism

    If $ is not an issue, go to U of Missouri or better, Columbia Univ, an Ivy League school.

    Also dun bother much about Sg, go west or go east young man.

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  5. #25

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    How much can a journalist/photojournalist earn in Singapore?

    Surely not David Beckham levels, but what annual levels? e.g. $50K/annum? $70K/annum? in excess of $100K/annum?

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    wow!
    I really appreciate the contributions from so many of you, especially Jed and Ian. Both of you have given me an insight of the photojournalism market in Singapore, seems pretty small! That was one thing that struck me too, lack of oppurtunities. I thought that if i were to look for it, it will come, but given Singapore's market, i believe its tough.

    Upon reading your posts, the idea of having a good portfolio seems to be the utmost importance. And having a mentor would be good.

    I would definitely want to finish my A levels, and go on and get a degree, so as to give myself some things to fall back on in case i don't do well in journalism.

    Then, i have another qn. Lets say if i get a degree on Economics (or Geography or BA), can i still go for a job in journalism (not econs related, say..sports?) What are the relevance? Would i still qualify?

    The reason why i am considering these degrees is because i am doing well in them and that they may become my ricebowl in the future. In case i can't perform in the journlists' world, i still have a corporate world to fall back on.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Wryer; 22nd June 2003 at 12:53 PM.

  7. #27
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    I'm also rather interested in the Mass Comm degree from NTU.

    Division of Journalism and Publishing
    Division of Public and Promotional Communication
    Division of Communication Research

    These 3 branches of the degree actually all sound interesting to me.
    So, I was wondering if I could write articles, present news and take photos all at the same time. Hehe..

    I'm in my A level year, taking Geog, Lit, Econs. *hintWryer,caretosharenotes?hint*

    Wryer, I believe they'll take anyone with a degree in a subject, because a newspaper covers everything happening under the sun and it does take people who have prior knowledge in that area of topic.

  8. #28
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    Originally posted by Poledra
    I'm also rather interested in the Mass Comm degree from NTU.

    Division of Journalism and Publishing
    Division of Public and Promotional Communication
    Division of Communication Research

    These 3 branches of the degree actually all sound interesting to me.
    So, I was wondering if I could write articles, present news and take photos all at the same time. Hehe..

    I'm in my A level year, taking Geog, Lit, Econs. *hintWryer,caretosharenotes?hint*

    Wryer, I believe they'll take anyone with a degree in a subject, because a newspaper covers everything happening under the sun and it does take people who have prior knowledge in that area of topic.
    I certainly hope they do accept people from a variety of qualifications.

    As for me, i just hope to write articles and take pictures. Appearing for broadcasting is no-no... But if the work calls for it, den LL bo pian loh.

    Regards

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    Default Photojournalisim

    Esp for Wryer and Poledra,

    If u guys r seriously into photojournalism, forget about diong it in SG. No freedom of speech or even pic. Even if u take pic which reveals the whole truth therei is a censorship commitee to content with.

    Like I said earlier, look west or even east.

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    Wryer and Poledra, you may want to look around.... there are good opportunities to learn....

  11. #31

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    Originally posted by Poledra
    I'm also rather interested in the Mass Comm degree from NTU.
    This course is very competitive. I do know quite a few friends who failed to make it to the School, all because of their B3 and below General Paper grade.

  12. #32
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    Originally posted by Wryer
    Then, i have another qn. Lets say if i get a degree on Economics (or Geography or BA), can i still go for a job in journalism (not econs related, say..sports?) What are the relevance? Would i still qualify?
    Definitely. Particularly for something like sport, where you can't really get a degree for it anyway. If you can write a good article, you're in with a shout (although in Singapore, you might need paper qualifications), but for photography, really it doesn't matter. I'm a case in point, my degree had nothing whatsoever to do with sport.

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    i had an A1 and i still couldn't get in..

    Originally posted by mervlam
    This course is very competitive. I do know quite a few friends who failed to make it to the School, all because of their B3 and below General Paper grade.

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    Originally posted by rochkoh
    i had an A1 and i still couldn't get in..
    Now you're scaring me.
    You mean you didn't even make it for the interview?


  15. #35
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    Originally posted by Poledra
    Now you're scaring me.
    You mean you didn't even make it for the interview?

    have you guys considered Ngee Ann's Mass Comm course as a option? i graduated from there myself (and i've got A levels too...).

    they have a Photo Journalism module too for final year, with a darkroom for you to muck around in. can ask around, i believe there's quite a few of my 'juniors' here.

  16. #36

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    Anyone knows how to go about applying as one with SPH?

    Maybe even as a freelance type basis?

    Always been interested in this line since `97....just didnt had the chance to get in. :P


    Most of the answers i heard are "no vacancies" or "you won't like it there" or "alot of office politics, trust me work somewhere else!" most of the time. And those are the answers i don't like to hear.
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    Originally posted by sbs99
    Anyone knows how to go about applying as one with SPH?

    Maybe even as a freelance type basis?

    Always been interested in this line since `97....just didnt had the chance to get in. :P
    go hunt out the name and contact of the Photo Editors (of the various daillies) and call/send them a email. if you're gutsy and persistent enough they should grant you a interview...

  18. #38
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    I am interested in Journalism and may consider doing photojournalism as well.

    I am too a A Level Holder. However I will be going to Temasek Poly, taking Communications and Media Management (A 3 year old course) this July.

    The diploma route might be a backup route if you really want to go into photojournalism and cannot make the grade for NTU Mass Comm.

    I advise against it though. If you can get a degree in other disciplines, pertaining to current affairs to specialise professions, you can still get into the media industry. This is told from a sports journalist acquaintant of mine who worked in TNP.

  19. #39
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    Default Photojournalism

    Forget about being a photojournlist in Sg. NO future.

    If you want to take pic like Steve McCurry u must be willing to travel off the beaten path. Then again u need a publisher to back u up.

    If u want to be jus a press photographer, what news can u cover? Murder? Accident?

    Look west or even look east.

  20. #40

    Default Re: Photojournalism

    Originally posted by jeff49er
    Forget about being a photojournlist in Sg. NO future.

    If you want to take pic like Steve McCurry u must be willing to travel off the beaten path. Then again u need a publisher to back u up.

    If u want to be jus a press photographer, what news can u cover? Murder? Accident?

    Look west or even look east.
    Excuse me. I know that you had emphasize many times about this. However, your advice is very dodgy. Care to give us some concrete evidence to back up what you say?

    And by the way, a press photog in S'pore don't take only murder and accident shots only. That's a shallow thought.
    Last edited by mervlam; 25th June 2003 at 11:58 PM.

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