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Interview: Greg Marinovich, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographer

Interview: Greg Marinovich, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist

March 5, 2021
– Sukanya Nandy

A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative photojournalist hailing from South-Africa, Greg Marinovich has traveled around the world over the past 25 years pursuing photojournalism and film-making. 

He is the co-author of ‘The Bang Bang Club’, a non-fiction book on South Africa’s transition to democracy that has been translated into six languages and made into a feature film. It was awarded the Alan Paton prize for non-fiction in 2017.

He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2013/14 and is an associate editor for the Daily Maverick. He currently teaches visual journalism and film-making at Boston University’s Journalism and Film & TV schools and photography at the Harvard Extension School. He is also a visiting faculty at Atria University, Bengaluru.

His images feature in the permanent collection of MoMA San Francisco and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as well as various private collections around the world.

His 2012 award-winning investigation into the Marikana massacre of miners by police was called the most important South African journalism post Apartheid. The book was published in January 2016.

Excerpts from an interview with EducationWorld:

What are the basic skills and aptitude required for pursuing photojournalism as a career?

Curiosity, an ardent interest in people and the world around, and a keen eye for details are prominent skills required in the field of photojournalism. Advanced skill sets such as the composition of photographs, understanding what the photo represents, and understanding of optics, are competencies that photography enthusiasts will eventually need to develop and master over time, and with practice. While photography courses may guide students around basic photography skills, successful photojournalists need to develop the ability to narrate facts through captivating, truthful visual stories. It is also necessary for students in this field to be computer literate and social media savvy.

Considering the fact that journalism is no longer limited to print media, what are the digital skills and tools a photojournalist requires?

Photojournalism has evolved at a rapid pace. Today, photojournalists need to be able to do so much more than frame a shot and compose a visual story. Engaging with people is now a mainstream practice among journalists. It is essential to build a strong and consistent social media presence, and to market one’s own work, both directly and indirectly. In today’s highly competitive media environment, it is rather elementary to be able to import, edit, export, and upload to a digital venue remotely. Undoubtedly, other innovations will be required, possibly in fields, we don’t know of yet but surely in using drones, Lidar, etc. 

What professional courses and certifications should an aspiring photojournalist pursue?

Students can pursue any degree in journalism, international relations, literature, or arts for a more formal career trajectory. Degrees and certifications also come in handy for those seeking academic rigour. Alternatively, students can look at building their portfolios to exhibit their work. Portfolios demonstrate credibility to prospective media houses and clients when students are starting out in their careers. It showcases an aspiring photojournalist’s creative range and interests. Short-term courses and workshops can be helpful for those who wish to test the waters, gather experience and get familiar with career possibilities in the field. There are many insightful courses conducted online by reputed organisations and renowned photographers. Foundations of Visual Creativity is one such workshop that is hosted by Atria University and mentored by me and our team here. This workshop will be commencing in the third week of March 2021.

Which are the well-known institutions that offer these courses?

There are several institutions that offer thorough courses and degrees in photography. It is rather difficult to choose one from the others. Especially when students are exploring their interests and are yet to decide their niche. However, photography enthusiasts can begin their journey by opting for short-term courses that are project-driven and led by reputed photography educators. There are also great opportunities for students to learn from and work with industry professionals. Enabling them to discover various emerging career pathways as they learn. Such experiential workshops can also help aspiring photojournalists gain clarity on their next steps, academic preferences, and career trajectory.

What is the long-term career scope for a photojournalist?

Great question. Photojournalism is an ever-changing landscape, and long-term career possibilities are evolving every day. From chasing the right story, creating compelling visual stories, to acquiring knowledge and awareness of how news is created and distributed. The career scope and trajectory for aspiring photojournalists lie in the intricate details and in the photographer’s relentless nature to dig deep for stories. Besides that, a student’s ability to showcase a visual story in interactive, novel, and exciting ways will always be a timeless skill set and one of the top competencies for those who wish to pursue emerging careers in photography. The same factors that have led many who bemoan the end of the ‘golden era’ of photojournalism are those which enable us to explore new forms and avenues of storytelling.

How financially fulfilling is photojournalism as a full-time profession? What kind of remuneration growth can an aspiring photojournalist expect?

The first couple of years can be financially challenging for most photojournalists. However, it can be quite rewarding if students are flexible, entrepreneurial, and willing to work on other projects or take up side gigs besides pursuing their niche in photojournalism. 

Also read: Glamour and big bucks in photography

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