FTVLive: The Dying Breed of the TV News Photographer

Posted February 22, 2017
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It used to be that no one got near the camera at a news station that wasnt a news photographer. They would never let the camera leave their side, or shoulder, and only they knew how to do what they did. Proper focus, lighting, whitebalance and the likes was all under their perview. Now, cameras are far less intimidating machines, in fact we all walk around with one in our pocket. 

With the proliferation of small cameras, it is no surprise that news photographers no longer enjoy the stature that they once had and are being replaced by video journalists all over. 

Check out this piece on the dying breed of news photographers:

Yesterday, FTVLive told you how a Seattle station (Market 14) was looking to hire a News Photographer "trainee".

It's sad that a big market station is hiring someone and has to give them on the job training. That is what small markets are for. 

But, one FTVLive reader makes a good point. The TV News Photog is an endangered species. 

The reader writes, It's not surprising that they advertising for photog trainees. Here in market **, we train people from the ground up to be photogs. They start learning how to edit for the news shows and if they survive long enough to last at that position, then we teach them how to shoot.

After they get about a day or two of training, we send them out to shoot simple vo's before sending them out with a reporter.Will their video come back blue? Yes. Will it come back out-of -focus? Probably. Will they know how to shoot video enough to be able to put together a sequence? Don't make me laugh....But what else can stations do? 

The days of photogs  learning in smaller markets have gone the way of the dodo bird. There are no "minor leagues"  for TV stations to pull from. All the smaller markets now hire MMJ/reporters so why have news photogs? We use to pull photogs from Binghampton NY or Utica or even Syracuse. But they don't have photogs there anymore either. They have MMJ/Reporters. No one goes to journalism school to be photogs anymore...They want to be reporters. 

The pool of "pure" photogs will slowly disappear over the next couple of years because TV groups dont want to spend the money on people who do just 1 job. And it's going to hit the sports departments the most. Where are those photogs who shoot Friday night football games or high school basketball games going to come from? You going to ask the MMJ/Reporters to shoot those game??? Ha!  Most of us " old school" photogs are a dying breed. We're just hoping to make it to retirement before we get pushed out or bought out. 

We shake our heads and wonder why we had to put our time in at tiny markets in small town America when you can walk into a mid-size or even larger market station without any experience. I guess it helps to be willing to work "dirt cheap"too.. Whether that be market 150 or market 20.

Excellent point.

Read on FTVLive.


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