Andrew Hasson has been a photojournalist for about 30 years and in this period he has seen a huge change in his professional field. In the early days photojournalists earned good money and most working for newspapers were salaried and their expense claims were never queried. For example the Daily Express had 50-60 staff photographers in the 70s.
Things began to change considerably, primarily due to the development of new digital technology. Newspapers began to run out of cash as their sales dropped because people began to read online. Now most photogs are on a one to two months rolling contract. You take what you get these days.
Andrew talked about the downsides of being a freelance photojournalist: no fixed income or pension, constant layout of capital expenditure in updating the photographic gear, using personal car and no sick pay. You are against a fierce competition these days, so you have to choose your assignments very carefully.
On the upside: no hassles with the office politics, you can plan your time, it’s more exciting as there is a wider exposure to photographic assignments. Moreover, you can’t be laid off.
Andrew gave some tips to those wishing to submit images to newspapers:
- if you don’t fill the IPTC you don’t stand a chance
- shoot in both landscape and portrait format
- go for a clean background
- avoid blacks or whites, go for pastel colours
- be aware that some tabloids won’t accept people wearing T-shirts
In his talk Andrew showed us his very impressive work from the early 80’s and images from his assignment that he had just covered that afternoon. He also explained how he had approached it.
To me his talk highlighted that being a photojournalist requires a lot of determination, innovation and resilience. Look out for his images as you pick up your newspapers!