My photojournalism class just ended and I have decided to write a ‘checklist’ for the students, to let them decide whether or not they have learned anything useful.
1) Obviously, you understand what is the angle, who is the focus of the interview, of the event. That you have a chance to speak with the assigning editor or reporter, to find out more on what you need to have.
2) That above all the arrangement and preconceptions that you brought with you, nothing that happens out of the blue should baffle you.
3) You know how to resize images according to specs that your client want, you know what is the optimal configuration to save your files so that the can be of the highest technical quality that is needed by the commissioner.
4) You know how to IPTC your files so that the right info are picked up, making it fuss-free for the end user. You also know how to protect your rights, by stating the right conditions for use.
5) You know at least two ways of transmitting your images to whomever that is waiting for them, be it through mobile telephony, a pigeon, dispatch rider.
6) You know how to color-correct to the palette you saw/envisioned, and you know how to touch up dust and scratches.
7) You dare to make bold decisions with cropping to drive home a clearer message with a picture.
8) You behave like a first class journalist by collecting facts and anecdotes on your own, and have a professional command of your language to write intelligent, value-adding captions.
9) You know how to negotiate the minefield and bureaucracy just so you can do the work you are hired to do – make pictures.
10) You know enough about the law to keep yourself and your clients out of trouble.
11) You acquired enough common sense so you don’t become the newsmaker, by perhaps dressing inappropriately for an event.
12) You are humble enough to explain to whomever that may not understand how a photojournalist works, instead of telling them to go away, because your job is too complicated.
13) You know how to write a decent proposal, one that you put forth with much consideration about its feasibility, after thinking through all possible obstacles.
14) You know that your work has value and you are starting to think about how much you can command.
15) You know that sending a file named ‘bedroom.jpg’ to your client makes you potentially idiotic.
16) You abide by a high ethical standard which forbids you from setting up news pictures, other than in cases of photo illustration and portrait.
17) You understand that you are only accorded the privilege of being a journalist because you will do nothing to betray the trust given to you, and that once compromised, the credibility you spent years building can just be totally erased.
18）You understand that any uncle and auntie with an iPhone can scoop you if you are not at the scene of a breaking news.
19) You finally realize that it is often better not to have press credentials, because 99% of the time, you don’t need one to contribute to STOMP